The purpose of this study was to establish and compare kinematic data among four groups of collegiate pitchers who threw the fastball (FA), change-up (CH), curveball (CU), and slider (SL). Twenty-six kinematic parameters at lead foot contact, during the arm-cocking and arm acceleration phases, and at ball release were measured for 16 collegiate baseball pitchers. Approximately 60% of these parameters showed significant differences among the four pitch variations. The greatest number of differences (14 of 26) occurred between the FA and CH groups, while the fewest differences (2 of 26) occurred between the FA and SL groups. The CH group had the smallest knee and elbow flexion at lead foot contact and the greatest knee and elbow flexion at ball release. During the arm-cocking and arm acceleration phases, peak shoulder, elbow, and trunk angular velocities were generally greatest in the FA and SL groups and smallest in the CH group. At ball release the CH group had the most upright trunk and the greatest horizontal shoulder adduction, while the CU group had the most lateral trunk tilt. Understanding kinematic differences can help a pitcher select and learn different pitches and can help a batter learn how to identify different pitches.
At the time of the study, all authors were with the American Sports Medicine Institute, 1313 13th St. South, Birmingham, AL 35205. Direct correspondence to Glenn S. Fleisig. Rafael Escamilla is now with the Department of Physical Education & Kinesiology, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407.