Updated: Nov 20, 2020
What would you say if I asked you to perform a backward bend like this gymnast? Most of you would look at me like I'm crazy and say there's no way you can do that. You would realize you aren't physically capable of getting in that position and would probably get hurt trying to.
Now what if I asked you to have a stride length or try to get hip/shoulder separation like one of the pitchers below? Are you physically capable of that? The answer is no for the majority of amateur pitchers, yet most players have no idea of this.
Have you ever tried to compare your mechanics to or copy the pitching delivery of a pro such as Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer or Aroldis Chapman? The problem with this line of thinking is that many pitchers don't first consider the physical requirements to be able to pitch like these pros do. Just because you may look alike, does not mean you move alike. These pitchers have unique mobility/flexibility, balance and strength allow them to get into these positions during their delivery. Most amateurs don't have close to the same physical capabilities as these players, yet are asking their bodies to try and get in the same positions as the pros. This typically leads to frustration and less than ideal results on the mound.
Here's an example using Aroldis Chapman's mechanics:
This video will highlight two unique aspects of Chapman's mechanics: his stride length and hip to shoulder separation. As this video highlights Chapman's stride is near 120% of his height and generates 65 degrees of hip to shoulder separation. These are some of the characteristics that allow him to generate power and velocity. But does that mean its right for you/your player or are they even physically capable of achieving this?
There are many things physically required to be able to accomplish this: Two things we will highlight are thoracic spine mobility and hip/groin mobility (shown below).
The picture on the left is of the OnBaseU seated thoracic rotation test and looks at your thoracic mobility. This is an important piece to generating hip to shoulder separation like Chapman. This picture shown is highlighting a limitation in thoracic mobility and this player might be at 20 degrees for rotation. In this case it would be virtually impossible to try to achieve the 65 degrees of separation that Chapman does
The picture on the right is one that we use to assess groin/hip mobility. The two baseballs indicate 85% of the players height. In this picture the player is well short of that. In this case, it would be very inappropriate to attempt to achieve a stride length of 120% of your height like Chapman since your body doesn't have the physical ability to achieve this.
Does that fact that you have a physical limitation mean you can't be a good pitcher? No, but it does likely mean that your mechanics will look a lot different from Aroldis Chapman since you don't move like him.
So what is the solution to this common problem?
Thankfully we can now have a way to look at your body's movement specific to the pitching delivery and make sure that your delivery best matches your physical capabilities. OnBase University has created a pitching specific physical screen that looks at your body's mobility/flexibility, stability, balance, strength and core control to help pitchers understand how their body can affect their mechanics
We can then use the information from the OnBase Pitching Screen combined with an analysis of your pitching mechanics to understand your unique body-pitching connection. We will any problems in your delivery and how they relate to your body. Based on this process, we can help determine if your problems are mechanical or physical in nature and help get you on the right path to achieving your goals.
If it is determined that your body is contributing your mechanical issues, we can help design a program to improve your body's movement and improve your delivery. You can also make modifications to your mechanics to work around some of these physical limitations or do a combination of the two. We work closely with all pitching coaches during this process to help determine the best plan for you.
Interested in learning more about how your body can effect your pitching mechanics and performance on the mound? Contact us today to learn more about our baseball performance and rehabilitation programs to help maximize your performance and health on the mound.