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Generating consistent maximum ball velocity is an important factor for a baseball pitcher’s success. While previous investigations have focused on the role of the upper and lower extremities, little attention has been given to the trunk. In this study it was hypothesized that variations in pelvis and upper torso kinematics within individual pitchers would be significantly associated with variations in pitched ball velocity. Nineteen elite baseball pitchers were analyzed using 3-D high-speed motion analysis. For inclusion in this study, each pitcher demonstrated a variation in ball velocity of at least 1.8 m/s (range: 1.8–3.5 m/s) during his 10 fastball pitch trials. A mixed-model analysis was used to determine the relationship between 12 pelvis and upper torso kinematic variables and pitched ball velocity. Results indicated that five variables were associated with variations in ball velocity within individual pitchers: pelvis orientation at maximum external rotation of the throwing shoulder (p = .026), pelvis orientation at ball release (p = .044), upper torso orientation at maximum external rotation of the throwing shoulder (p = .007), average pelvis velocity during arm cocking (p = .024), and average upper torso velocity during arm acceleration (p = .035). As ball velocity increased, pitchers showed an increase in pelvis orientation and upper torso orientation at the instant of maximal external rotation of the throwing shoulder. In addition, average pelvis velocity during arm cocking and average upper torso velocity during arm acceleration increased as ball velocity increased. From a practical perspective, the athlete should be coached to strive for proper trunk rotation during arm cocking as well as strength and flexibility in order to generate angular velocity within the trunk for maximum ball velocity.
Stodden is at 2050 Memorial Coliseum, Auburn Univ., Auburn, AL 36849; Fleisig, Lyman, and Andrews are with the American Sports Medicine Institute, 1313 13th St. South, Birmingham, AL 35205; McLean is with the Dept. of Health & Human Performance, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA 50011.