The purpose of this study was to assess biomechanical differences among overhand, 3-quarter, and sidearm arm slot professional baseball pitchers. It was hypothesized that kinematic and kinetic differences would be found among the 3 groups, with sidearm pitchers demonstrating greater movement along the transverse plane and overhead pitchers demonstrating greater movement along the sagittal plane. Based upon arm slot angle at ball release, 30 overhand, 156 three-quarter, and 21 sidearm pitchers were tested using a 240-Hz motion analysis system, and 37 kinematic and kinetic parameters were calculated. One-way analyses of variance (α = .01) was employed to assess differences among groups. The comparisons showed the sidearm group had less shoulder anterior force, whereas the overhand group had the least elbow flexion torque. At ball release, trunk contralateral tilt and shoulder abduction were greatest for the overhand group and least for sidearm group. Additionally, the sidearm group demonstrated the lowest peak knee height, most closed foot angle, greatest pelvis angular velocity, and shoulder external rotation. The overhand group had the greatest elbow flexion at foot contact and greatest trunk forward tilt at ball release. The greater elbow flexion torque and shoulder external rotation exhibited by sidearm pitchers may increase their risk of labral injury. Conversely, the lower shoulder anterior force in sidearm pitchers may indicate lower stress on shoulder joint capsule and rotator cuff.
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Rafael F. Escamilla, Jonathan S. Slowik, Alek Z. Diffendaffer, and Glenn S. Fleisig
Tomoyuki Matsuo, Rafael F. Escamilla, Glenn S. Fleisig, Steven W. Barrentine, and James R. Andrews
This study investigated differences in kinematic and temporal parameters between two velocity groups of baseball pitchers. Data were collected from 127 healthy college and professional baseball pitchers. Those who threw faster than 1 SD above the sample mean (>38.0 m/s) were assigned to the high velocity group (n = 29), and those who threw slower than 1 SD below the sample mean (<34.2 m/s) were assigned to the low velocity group (n = 23). Twelve kinematic parameters and 9 temporal parameters were measured and analyzed. The pattern of lead knee movement was also investigated. Maximum shoulder external rotation, forward trunk tilt at the instant of ball release, and lead knee extension angular velocity at the instant of ball release were significantly greater in the high velocity group. Maximum lead knee flexion angular velocity was significantly greater in the low velocity group. Seventy percent of the high velocity group showed knee extension during the approach to ball release, whereas the low velocity group showed a variety of knee movement patterns involving less knee extension and more knee flexion. The greater shoulder external rotation in the high velocity group produced an increased range of motion during the acceleration phase.
David F. Stodden, Glenn S. Fleisig, Scott P. McLean, and James R. Andrews
To reach the level of elite, most baseball pitchers need to consistently produce high ball velocity but avoid high joint loads at the shoulder and elbow that may lead to injury. This study examined the relationship between fastball velocity and variations in throwing mechanics within 19 baseball pitchers who were analyzed via 3-D high-speed motion analysis. Inclusion in the study required each one to demonstrate a variation in velocity of at least 1.8 m/s (range 1.8–3.5 m/s) during 6 to 10 fastball pitch trials. Three mixed model analyses were performed to assess the independent effects of 7 kinetic, 11 temporal, and 12 kinematic parameters on pitched ball velocity. Results indicated that elbow flexion torque, shoulder proximal force, and elbow proximal force were the only three kinetic parameters significantly associated with increased ball velocity. Two temporal parameters (increased time to max shoulder horizontal adduction and decreased time to max shoulder internal rotation) and three kinematic parameters (decreased shoulder horizontal adduction at foot contact, decreased shoulder abduction during acceleration, and increased trunk tilt forward at release) were significantly related to increased ball velocity. These results point to variations in an individual's throwing mechanics that relate to pitched ball velocity, and also suggest that pitchers should focus on consistent mechanics to produce consistently high fastball velocities. In addition, pitchers should strengthen shoulder and elbow musculature that resist distraction as well as improve trunk strength and flexibility to maximize pitching velocity and help prevent injury.
Glenn S. Fleisig, Rafael F. Escamilla, James R. Andrews, Tomoyuki Matsuo, Yvonne Satterwhite, and Steve W. Barrentine
Kinematic and kinetic aspects of baseball pitching and football passing were compared. Twenty-six high school and collegiate pitchers and 26 high school and collegiate quarterbacks were analyzed using three-dimensional high-speed motion analysis. Although maximum shoulder external rotation occurred earlier for quarterbacks, maximum angular velocity of pelvis rotation, upper torso rotation, elbow extension, and shoulder internal rotation occurred earlier and achieved greater magnitude for pitchers. Quarterbacks had shorter strides and stood more erect at ball release. During arm cocking, quarterbacks demonstrated greater elbow flexion and shoulder horizontal adduction. To decelerate the arm, pitchers generated greater compressive force at the elbow and greater compressive force and adduction torque at the shoulder. These results may help explain differences in performance and injury rates between the two sports.
Rafael F. Escamilla, Glenn S. Fleisig, Steven W. Barrentine, Naiquan Zheng, and James R. Andrews
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.
David F. Stodden, Glenn S. Fleisig, Scott P. McLean, Stephen L. Lyman, and James R. Andrews
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.
Steven W. Barrentine, Tomoyuki Matsuo, Rafael F. Escamilla, Glenn S. Fleisig, and James R. Andrews
Previous researchers studying baseball pitching have compared kinematic and kinetic parameters among different types of pitches, focusing on the trunk, shoulder, and elbow. The lack of data on the wrist and forearm limits the understanding of clinicians, coaches, and researchers regarding the mechanics of baseball pitching and the differences among types of pitches. The purpose of this study was to expand existing knowledge of baseball pitching by quantifying and comparing kinematic data of the wrist and forearm for the fastball (FA), curveball (CU) and change-up (CH) pitches. Kinematic and temporal parameters were determined from 8 collegiate pitchers recorded with a four-camera system (200 Hz). Although significant differences were observed for all pitch comparisons, the least number of differences occurred between the FA and CH. During arm cocking, peak wrist extension for the FA and CH pitches was greater than for the CU, while forearm supination was greater for the CU. In contrast to the current study, previous comparisons of kinematic data for trunk, shoulder, and elbow revealed similarities between the FA and CU pitches and differences between the FA and CH pitches. Kinematic differences among pitches depend on the segment of the body studied.
Yungchien Chu, Glenn S. Fleisig, Kathy J. Simpson, and James R. Andrews
The purpose of the current study was to identify the biomechanical features of elite female baseball pitching. Kinematics and kinetics of eleven elite female baseball pitchers were reported and compared with eleven elite male pitchers. Results suggested that females share many similarities with males in pitching kinematics, with a few significant differences. Specifically, at the instant of stride foot contact, a female pitcher had a shorter and more open stride and less separation between pelvis orientation and upper torso orientation. From foot contact to ball release, a female pitcher produced lower peak angular velocity for throwing elbow extension and stride knee extension. Ball velocity was lower for the female. Foot contact to ball release took more time for a female pitcher. Maximal proximal forces at the shoulder and elbow joints were less for a female pitcher.
Tomoyuki Matsuo, Glenn S. Fleisig, Naiquan Zheng, and James R. Andrews
Elbow varus torque is a primary factor in the risk of elbow injury during pitching. To examine the effects of shoulder abduction and lateral trunk tilt angles on elbow varus torque, we conducted simulation and regression analyses on 33 college baseball pitchers. Motion data were used for computer simulations in which two angles— shoulder abduction and lateral trunk tilt—were systematically altered. Forty-two simulated motions were generated for each pitcher, and the peak elbow varus torque for each simulated motion was calculated. A two-way analysis of variance was performed to analyze the effects of shoulder abduction and trunk tilt on elbow varus torque. Regression analyses of a simple regression model, second-order regression model, and multiple regression model were also performed. Although regression analyses did not show any significant relationship, computer simulation indicated that the peak elbow varus torque was affected by both angles, and the interaction of those angles was also significant. As trunk tilt to the contralateral side increased, the shoulder abduction angle producing the minimum peak elbow varus torque decreased. It is suggested that shoulder abduction and lateral trunk tilt may be only two of several determinants of peak elbow varus torque.
Rafael F. Escamilla, Naiquan Zheng, Toran D. MacLeod, Rodney Imamura, Shangcheng Wang, Kevin E. Wilk, Kyle Yamashiro, and Glenn S. Fleisig
The objective was to assess how patellofemoral loads (joint force and stress) change while lunging with step length and step height variations. Sixteen participants performed a forward lunge using short and long steps at ground level and up to a 10-cm platform. Electromyography, ground reaction force, and 3D motion were captured, and patellofemoral loads were calculated as a function of knee angle. Repeated-measures 2-way analysis of variance (P < .05) was employed. Patellofemoral loads in the lead knee were greater with long step at the beginning of landing (10°–30° knee angle) and the end of pushoff (10°–40°) and greater with short step during the deep knee flexion portion of the lunge (50°–100°). Patellofemoral loads were greater at ground level than 10-cm platform during lunge descent (50°–100°) and lunge ascent (40°–70°). Patellofemoral loads generally increased as knee flexion increased and decreased as knee flexion decreased. To gradually increase patellofemoral loads, perform forward lunge in the following sequence: (1) minimal knee flexion (0°–30°), (2) moderate knee flexion (0°–60°), (3) long step and deep knee flexion (0°–100°) up to a 10-cm platform, and (4) long step and deep knee flexion (0°–100°) at ground level.