Pull Down Phase is Slowing Down Pitching Velocity

Pull Down PhaseMany Extreme Long Toss programs use what some call the “Pull Down Phase.” This is because after throwing the ball 300 feet in an “Air it out” program, they then want you to pull down your delivery so you do not continue to launch the ball high as you move closer to 60 feet. The problem is this goes against the science of pitching velocity.

Pitching velocity is the product of momentum and torque down a mound. You can read countless articles on this site about Momentum and Torque. The “Pull Down Phase” causes the pitcher to pull down the arm during release prevents early internal rotation which is a key component to pitching velocity as stated in the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) case study called Comparison of High Velocity and Low Velocity Pitch Deliveries.

Science Reveals the Truth Behind Pull Down Phase

Dr. Andrews case study states:

….the maximum shoulder horizontal adduction occurred later and maximum shoulder internal rotation occurred earlier at greater ball velocities.

Notice that Tim Lincecum, who’s fastball averages in the high nineties, proves this component in the case study true in his picture above. He is releasing the ball above his shoulder and head. He couldn’t release the ball any earlier than in his picture. There is no pull down phase in this high pitching velocity delivery.  Early internal rotation occurred  because he has met ever component of greater ball velocity described in the ASMI case study. He has “less lead knee flexion after front foot contact” which we find just before this image, “greater lead knee extension at the time of ball release,” “Maximum shoulder external rotation” which also occurred before this picture and finally “forward trunk tilt at ball release.” Tim Lincecum is the epitome of this ASMI case study, especially early internal rotation which is the opposite of “Pulling Down” to release.

Pull Down PhaseTo give an example of a pitcher who is fighting against his potential velocity by implementing the same mechanics of the “pull down phase” and pulling the ball down to release would be this picture here. This happens because of a flaw in timing. When the front foot lands and momentum is slowing down then the arm must take over. The pitcher must pull the ball down to create more external rotation that was lost when his momentum slowed down. Momentum must accelerate all the way to ball release to support top velocity. Just like a plane taking off, momentum must not stop or velocity will suffer. In the case of pitching, the arm suffers as well because this adds more wear and tear on the arm.

Notice that both of these pitchers are almost in the exact same position but the pitcher here is releasing the ball in front of his face and his elbow has not extended. This tells me that his momentum has stopped and his arm is doing the majority of the work. This also means he created poor hip to shoulder separation at front foot strike which caused his arm to get out front too early in the delivery. The most important perspective of the ASMI Comparison of High Velocity and Low Velocity Pitch Deliveries is the timing of each component. If any of the four pitching velocity components stated in the case study initiate too early then the proceeding component will not reach its maximum potential.

When you find yourself losing momentum and pulling the ball down to release you will notice that your ball pulls down as well as it reaches the plate but when you get early internal rotation, you will notice that your ball jumps out of your hand and looks like it is rising as it reaches the plate. This is an increase in pitching velocity. To prevent launching the ball high, you must make sure you are achieving maximum forward trunk tilt at ball release not “Pulling Down”.

When working to improve on these four components of pitching velocity you must practice them in reverse, not continuing until each component is mastered. This is the only way to develop top velocity and to break the conventional wisdom that says these mechanics can not be taught.

In conclusion, these Extreme Long Toss programs may sound good on video or websites but scientifically it fails. Next time you find yourself trying to pull the ball down at release to increase pitching velocity, check your momentum because your pitching velocity is slowing down.

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33 Comments. Leave new

  • Michael, if you have a yard then you collect some dirt and build one. I did this when I was a kid. If you are inside then it cost me like $50 to build this mound http://www.blindhope.com/Portable%20Pitcher%20Pag

  • What do I do if i dont have a mound?

  • The 3X Pitching Velocity Program has drills that train all of these high velocity components and yes many of these drills are off the mound.

  • ok, so is pitching off a mound the only way to help increase external rotation and forward trunk tilt or all in your program?

  • You said "does not allow for early external roation" and I said "reducing forward trunk tilt and external rotation". This is different.

  • nvm I did mean external "all this time that long toss puts more elbow varus torque on the arm and changes your release point specifically reducing forward trunk tilt and external rotation."

  • opps i meant internal not external and ok that is cool. I will look further into it, thanks

  • I didn't say it does not allow for early external rotation. It has more to do with forward truck tilt at release than external rotation. As for throwing a football it does use different mechanics than pitching because when throwing a football you let the arm get out front a lot earlier. This is why I do football throws using my target drills in the 3X Pitching Velocity Program. This puts you in a pitching position when throwing the football. It prevents the arm from getting out front to early.

  • Since long toss with a baseball does not allow for early external roation like you said, what about playing catch with a football?

  • The 3X Pitching Velocity Program uses drills, exercises and lifts to train your body to build more hip to shoulder separation. It doesn't come in just one drill.

  • and this is what you talk about in the 3 free videos you have up correct? But the drill to get the muscles to remember this is in the program?

  • No, the "Tilt" has to do with hip to shoulder separation. You need to purchase the 3X Pitching eBook to get a better understanding of my approach.

  • so using your glove side to pull down is not the same as the lincecum tilt?

  • The "Tuck" of the glove side is not to pull the throwing arm through. It is to create a fulcrum for the shoulders and throwing arm to pivot around when momentum and torque launches the arm towards the target.

  • So by pull down phase, Alan is saying to use your throwing arm to pull down the ball aka trying to lower the release point, which you say is bad. Is this the same as using the front aka glove side shoulder, arm and glove with the tuck like lincecum to pull the back arm through, but still having a relaxed throwing arm aka no tension as some would say the arm is along for the ride?

  • The Tulane study confirms the EMG study with Dr. Jobe who invented Tommy John surgery. The Tulane study stats"

    The LD muscle extends eccentrically in the cocking phase to store potential energy to be transformed to power during acceleration phase in order to produce the required momentum before ball release. During cocking phase, this muscle would be elongated passively and remained relatively inactive to prevent injury caused by eccentric contraction.

    This is referring to the stretch shortening cycle of the internal rotators. The EMG study is a better indicator of what muscles are active during the acceleration phase and it doesn't matter that it is from the 80's. We still use EMG technology today to determine passive or active muscle contractions.

    If you say you study the ASMI studies then you need to read the latest one. It once again confirms what I and Dick Mills have been saying all this time that long toss puts more elbow varus torque on the arm and changes your release point specifically reducing forward trunk tilt and external rotation. Here is the study they just recently did called Biomechanical Comparison of Baseball Pitching and Long-Toss: Implications for Training and Rehabilitation.

    However, maximum distance throws produce increased torques and changes in kinematics; caution is therefore advised for use of these throws in rehabilitation and training. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21212502

    ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21212502

    I am sorry to inform you but Jaeger is old school and this study proves it. I am not the biggest fan of Mills either. He speaks out against weight training and I am a big advocate of strength and conditioning.

    As for the arguement of the photos. Curverball or fastball your arm must extend and internally rotate at release. The college pitcher is pulling down and preventing early internal rotation.

  • what bothers me is in the article in the EMG you gave me does not say the lattismus dorsi at all, only deltoid and subscapularious.. not to mention this was done in 1983.. i think drop and drive method was popular as well back in that time


    the lats do play a large role in velocity

    During cocking phase, this muscle would be elongated passively and remained relatively inactive to prevent injury caused by eccentric contraction. LD muscle is primarily an extensor and internal rotator, which provides the main driving force during baseball pitching.

    with all due respect, i am a little insulted that you think i am confused, i have read countless ASMI, doctor surveys, and strength/conditioning coaches opinions..

    i dont mind though, dick mills also bashed alan jaeger for his thoughts on long toss.. but eric cressey who trains dozens of colliegete and professional baseball players KNOWS long toss is a key part of gaining velocity

    anyway, i believe it is you who is confused what pulling down is, of course one doesnt pull down into release, release point is just an action of proper kinetic chain usage,, which is using all the posterior chain muscles

    and yes you have helped me in the past, but i did not have the knowledge from proper studies that i do now

    btw lincecum picture is throwing a fastball, your "example of incorrect throwing" is throwing a breaking pitch

  • Drewski,

    I have been nice enough to let you comment on my site and Don and I have given you some good advice in the past. I am a little insulted by your comments about having an ego and being a money maker. I am sure you make a lot more money than me with your pitching product. I would appreciate some professionalism if you would like to continue posting on my site.

    As for your argument, you are a little confused. I am making the argument in this article that coaching a pitcher to PULL DOWN to release, which most pitching coaches do, is not what is happening and it causes a pitcher to decelerate the bodies momentum. The latissimus dorsi is only one of the many muscles that internal rotates the arm. Acceleration of the internal rotators is a product of the stretch shortening cycle during external rotation, it is not the product of the PULL DOWN of the arm during the acceleration phase as proven in the study by Dr. Jobe called "An EMG analysis of the shoulder in throwing and pitching. A preliminary report."

    Acceleration (Stage III) had a lack of muscle activity, even though the arm was accelerating forward in space. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6829838

    ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6829838

  • haha i laugh at you because you are a lot like dick mills.. you dont literally PULL DOWN the baseball like you would a rope attached to a ceiling… the shoulder internally rotates by one of the biggest, strongest muscles in the body, the lattassime dorse.. the pull down is the cause of not deaccerlerating by trying to throw a ball 60 feet with the same tenacity as a 300 ft throw…

    i think you need to take your ego out of the equation, somebody asks a simple question about sequencing and you offer them to pay for your handbook? hahaha money maker for sure

    email me if you have any comments

  • I believe it is a combo of pitch count and throwing more off speed pitches. Throwing a lot of off speed pitches will affect your velocity focused mechanics.

  • Why do you think Lincecum's velocity has slowed down some.

  • Brooks,

    I understand your frustration. What you need is to purchase the Ace Pitcher Handbook which has all of these component's in a sequence along with drills that will help you to implement it into your delivery. You need to also send me in a video of you pitching for a FREE analysis so I can point out your flaws and how to correct them. Here is those who have sent in their videos for analysis http://topvelocity.net/forum/mechanics-and-analys

  • brooks carson
    October 31, 2010 9:54 pm

    hey brent , all this stuff is great but all of it means nothing without sequencing it right, could you give me step by step when to do all those things or a suggestion , your next quick tip could be that , also when I bring my leg back like in the last quick tip i always end-up landing closed and thats messing me up big time, thankyou very much brent.

  • Joe, I disagree with you here. The arm will naturally finish down after release of the pitch because the arm is attached to the shoulders but hard throwers like Tim Lincecum are not firing the accelerators to pull the ball down towards release. I can prove this in the study listed here.

    The excerpt from the book called "The Athlete’s Shoulder" written by Kevin E. Wilk, Michael M. Reinold, and Dr. James R. Andrews published in 2008 documents the shoulder activity by muscle and phase during baseball pitching. Table 32-1 clearly shows that among professional pitchers the only accelerator muscle that increases its voluntary isometric contraction during the acceleration phase is the Triceps brachii. This is the muscle that extends the elbow up towards release like in the picture of Tim Lincecum at the top of the page. All the other accelerators maximum voluntary isometric contractions (MVIC) are occurring during the arm cocking phase.

    This study proves that Tim Lincecum and other hard throwers are not pulling their arms down to release because if they were the study would state that the pectoralis major, supraspinatus, serratus anterior and Biceps brachii would increase its voluntary contraction during the acceleration phase which this study shows is NOT occurring.

  • I was a pitcher also and i faced him his mechanics have not changed since then and that ball is not completely leaving his hand until there is a downward pull on it or else there wouldn't be any back spin on the ball so no matter what there is a downward pull on the ball to create the spin either on a fastball changeup curve what ever you have to have down ward pull on the ball to create spin thats why knuckleballer's push the ball more than throw it your body naturally pronates to pull the arm down to the ground to prevent self inflicted injury so YES a throwing motion is naturally a downward movement

  • Joe,

    I have not faced Tim Lincecum because I am a pitcher and I retired pro ball before he was out of college ball. What he is doing with his glove side is a pull effect but it is more accurately described as a tuck because his glove arm is folding into the arm pit. When I talk about pulling down to release I am mainly describing the throwing arm. His throwing arm is extending up to release like you described not pulling down to release like the college pitcher is doing more of in this article.

  • I also think it funny that you have a picture of Tim Lincecum since he pulls his throwing hand from a straight line from his opposite shoulder so in theory he is pulling down on the ball especially since he is directly over the top on his pitches have you ever faced him as a hitter i can tell you that i have and have seen it first hand

  • Your not slowing down when you pull down your slowing down when you are trying to stride to far for your body to handle then on your landing you jar your shoulder and creates drag if you pull the arm with a long stride then it takes less stress off the shoulders but putts more stress on the back and your spine because it cant keep up with the quick snap of the rotation there for you loose all your torque and to kind of correct everyone you don't pull the glove hand down you pull the glove hand to the chest so pull in not down this subject is truly a dead subject every kid has there natural way of either gliding to the glove or pulling the glove in you need to stop cookie cutting kids because all it does it hurt there body

  • Brent,

    I appreciate your response. That's unfortunate. I appreciate your insights and look forward to continuing to follow your research. Thanks for your honesty.

  • Great points. I find your comments about Alan Jaeger interesting. As often seems to be the case, I think language has much to do with your concerns about Alan's thoughts on "pulling down". In my studies of Alan's approach, I've found that he uses the term "pull down phase" for the time when the thrower comes back in from long tossing at maximum distance. My interpretation of Alan's comment on "lower release point" is more in terms of helping the thrower find a release point that allows for the baseball to go lower (to the partner or in the strike zone) as opposed to actually physically releasing the baseball lower-his terminology appears to be flawed because, as you point out, this would actually inhibit velocity. Perhaps the terminology should be changed.

    I also think it's difficult to blame Alan for Joel Zumaya's problems-in my opinion Zumaya's high elbow raise (significantly above shoulder which research has shown places a higher degree of stress on the shoulder capsule and elbow) equates for his health issues. Zumaya has a flaw in arm action, and, as most will tell you, changing someone's arm action is not only complicated, but often very unproductive. It appears Zumaya was willing to throw with this risk (and make millions of dollars) rather than change it for fear of losing his effectiveness (and not make millions of dollars).

    I'm curious-have you ever talked to Alan about his use of terminology in terms of the pulling down phase and the release point? I can tell you that from the standpoint of a coach and a consumer that it doesn't help to so openly bash others; rather I think it's better to simply share your thoughts on development (which you have done admirably)-just my thoughts, you certainly don't have to listen. I believe Alan to be a very good throwing coach, and I also find your thoughts very insightful and helpful; I actually find a lot of similarities between what you are saying and what I've heard Alan say. I just find these internet "battles" to be interesting because I often times learn that a phone call or personal visit has never occurred. I would love to see two bright minds like yourselves working together to promote effective throwing across the United States and beyond!

    • Ryan,

      You should go into politics. You are well spoken and a good mediator.

      I am hard on Alan Jaeger because he did contact me about my article on "Long Toss and the Placebo effect." In his email he didn't want to collaborate with me, he wanted only to threaten me to stop challenging his program. He has a big ego and he needs to be challenged. This is why I continue to challenge him. It is all in fun, like a good game of baseball!

      I appreciate your perspective and opinions and I welcome you to post more comments!

      Brent Pourciau

  • Are these your words or mine? "Forward tilt results in higher velocity. The early release is simply a reaction to the forward tilt. When high velocity pitchers tilt forward they have to release the ball earlier to avoid throwing the ball into the ground."

    You summarized what I said here in the article "Early internal rotation occurred because he has met ever component of greater ball velocity described in the ASMI case study. He has “less lead knee flexion velocity after front foot contact” which we find just before this image, “greater lead knee extension velocity at the time of ball release,” “Maximum shoulder external rotation” which also occurred before this picture and finally “forward trunk tilt at ball release.” Tim Lincecum is the epitome of this ASMI case study, especially early internal rotation."

    Unfortunately, you have mixed up your information by saying "Jaeger’s pulldown is essentially the tilt forward." On Jaeger's site describing his PULL DOWN PHASE he says:

    "Where stretching out the arm creates warmth, length and extension, the pull down phase helps to generate arm speed, arm strength, lower release point and acceleration or "finish" through the release point."

    How would forward trunk tilt create a lower release point? Notice the picture of Tim Lincecum above. He couldn't be releasing the ball any higher. It is also unfortunate that your statement that " Jaeger's pull down is essentially the tilt forward" is not supported by any information. I do not blame you for this because Alan Jaeger doesn't put any scientific information on his website about his throwing mechanics. It is like he is teaching Voodoo. Yes, he has experience coaching his mechanics but NO, he has no scientific data supporting his philosophies. All of his information on his site is nothing but fluff. I will admit there is a lot of good coaches who can't talk the game but can help a young athlete in his career. I guess Alan Jaeger is one of them because he does have a following. I just hope he isn't full of you know what and he is taking advantage of his guys. I mean look at Zumaya! Jaeger hung his hat on him and he may have ruined his career.

  • You seem to have mixed up cause and effect. Forward tilt results in higher velocity. The early release is simply a reaction to the forward tilt. When high velocity pitchers tilt forward they have to release the ball earlier to avoid throwing the ball into the ground.

    Jaeger's pulldown is essentially the tilt forward.


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