Motion Analysis

How Muscles Work and Protect a Pitcher’s Elbow

Let’s talk about muscles. Muscles are the motors of the body. They are the components that generate movement. They can also absorb dangerous forces to protect more vulnerable tissues, like ligaments, and this is especially important for baseball pitchers.

Before I dive in, if you missed part one or two of the three part introduction to my views on the biomechanics of pitching, here’s a short summary.

I disagree with using the total elbow load as an approximation of the load on the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Therefore, I believe using the total load as an indicator of elbow injury risk is flawed.

One of the biggest drawbacks to using the total joint load is that it provides no information about the underlying muscles. This is why I account for the muscles, in addition to the ligaments and bones, when I analyze the biomechanics of a pitching motion using computational modeling techniques.

Now that […]

By |March 9th, 2015|Injuries, Mechanics, Motion Analysis|4 Comments

A More Forward Approach to Understanding Pitching Biomechanics

This is part two of three of the initial guest posts by Dr. James Buffi. Part one was titled Challenges with Typical Biomechanical Analyses of Pitching.

It is impossible to figure out if a specific player scored a run in a baseball game just by looking at the final box score. This is essentially what typical biomechanical analyses of pitching try to do. They attempt to infer the underlying outcome for the UCL from macroscopic surface-level observations of net elbow loading.

As stated in my previous post, the total elbow load is not nearly enough information to determine the underlying ligament load.

Most of these typical biomechanical analyses can be classified as inverse dynamic analyses. The word “inverse” refers to the order in which calculations are performed relative to the way the body actually creates motion. In an inverse dynamic analysis, the total joint loads are recorded and calculated first. The loads on individual […]

By |February 23rd, 2015|Mechanics, Motion Analysis, Research|2 Comments

Control Problems on the Mound? It’s Not Always “Mental.”

How many times have you heard these lines?

“It’s a mental issue.”
“He has the yips.”
“He lost the ability to throw strikes.”
“It’s all in his head.”
“He’s mentally weak.”

They’re catch-all phrases that hope to capture the essence of why a pitcher like Daniel Bard can put up these kinds of insane runs:

It’s generally assumed that pitchers like Bard simply lose it mentally and can’t throw strikes because of some ephemeral issue that no one can pinpoint. Let me state for the record that this kind of thing DOES happen, but very often it’s actually an underlying physiological issue, not a mental/psychological one (or at least one rooted in those areas). Daniel Bard can still throw 95+ MPH – just like a handful of my pro clients who were throwing at their top velocities despite spraying the ball all over the place. None of them reported pain, soreness, or weakness – so it couldn’t be […]

By |June 25th, 2014|Injuries, Mechanics, Motion Analysis, Training|6 Comments

The Reinvention of Casey Weathers – Restoring What Tommy John Took

Casey Weathers was the first round pick of the Colorado Rockies (8th overall) in 2007 after putting up incredible numbers at Vanderbilt – striking out 75 over 49.1 innings while allowing fewer than one hit + walk per inning pitched. Casey was throwing 95-97 MPH at the time with a wipeout slider, and was tagged as a fast-mover. In his first full season in Tulsa (AA), he was off to a good start, striking out a ton of hitters and getting very weak contact with his ERA hovering just around 3. He would hit 100+ MPH on several outings in the hot weather. He’d also throw in the 2008 Olympics for the United States, taking home the bronze medal for his efforts.

Things were good, until his command started to desert him, and it finally happened – his elbow hurt after throwing a pitch. He had an MRI done on his arm by the […]

By |May 19th, 2014|Injuries, Mechanics, Motion Analysis, Training, Video|4 Comments

Should Youth Pitchers Throw Curveballs? Probably Not.

The debate on whether or not youth pitchers should throw curveballs rages on, and on, and on. Studies to seem to show that breaking balls are no less stressful on the elbow and youth pitchers who throw curveballs don’t seem to be more likely to have surgery or retire from pitching due to pain, so what’s the deal?

Despite the inconclusive kinematic/kinetic and longitudinal studies done on breaking balls, Dr. Kremchek (a well-respected sports orthopedist) strongly disagrees:
“They have an obligation to protect these 12-year-old kids and instead, they’re saying, ‘There’s no scientific evidence curveballs cause damage, so go ahead, kids, just keep throwing them,’ ” Kremchek said. “It makes me sick to my stomach to watch the Little League World Series and see 12-year-olds throwing curve after curve. Those of us who have to treat those kids a few years later, we’re pretty sure there is a cause and effect.”
Unfortunately, the […]

By |February 17th, 2014|Mechanics, Motion Analysis|3 Comments

How to Efficiently Change Your Pitching Mechanics

Recently someone asked me a question that I get fairly frequently:
I see a lot of strength, conditioning, and training videos and articles on your site, but not a lot about mechanics. Do you teach mechanics in your Elite Velocity Development program?
I have mixed reactions to questions along these lines – one being confusion; certainly I’ve written quite a bit about pitching mechanics on this site – some of our more popular articles are:

Elbow Injuries and What Causes Them (bonus Stephen Strasburg content)
Strasburg, The Inverted W, and Pitching Mechanics
Reviewing the NPA Velocity “Holds”
Disconnected Pitching Mechanics – A Good Thing?

Additionally, there may not be another person or organization out there that pushes the boundaries of cost-effective and applicable motion capture out there than Driveline Baseball. We now have eight high-speed cameras (four that record in a central video server and four standalone cameras), and the whole point of a comprehensive video analysis […]

By |November 15th, 2013|Mechanics, Motion Analysis, Training|5 Comments

New Video Analysis Techniques in Our Lab (Facility Update, 11/14/13)

Our biomechanics lab is in the process of getting a rather large upgrade. I’ve been head down on building a custom high-speed video solution for our lab, which as of next week will include these cameras:

Four synchronized high-speed cameras that feed into a central video server, shooting at 180 FPS from these fixed angles: Overhead, Front, Rear, First Base View
Two tripod high-speed cameras that shoot at 120/240 FPS for quick review
Two tripod high-speed camcorders that shoot full HD (1080p) video at 60 FPS or high-speed video at 300 FPS with Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing athletes to directly connect and download videos off the system using their smartphones

The throwing cage has been a lot of manual labor to build and get right, and I’m happy to say we’re 95% of the way done with it. Here’s an older picture of the cage from a few days ago:

As stated in previous posts, we […]

By |November 14th, 2013|Motion Analysis, Research, Training, Video|0 Comments

Pro Baseball Summit, New Underload Baseball Record, Seminar Dates, Mariners’ Scout Team, and Wireless EXG Sensors – MaxVelo News

I’m going to try to make these posts a little more frequently since the 2013-2014 offseason is here, which means tons of action. Let’s get to it!
Pro Baseball Summit
Driveline Baseball will be hosting the first annual Pro Baseball Summit at our facility in SeaTac, WA from September 15th-21st. This seminar/group work session is open to all current professional pitchers, pitching coaches, and athletic trainers attached to a professional baseball organization. We will be covering a wide variety of topics, including – but not limited to:

Pitching Mechanics
Strength and Conditioning
Rotator Cuff Training
EXG Sensor Measurements – Muscle, Heart, and Brain Measurements (more on this later)
Command/Control Training
Velocity Development

If you are interested in attending, please contact Kyle Boddy for more information.

Confirmed attendees include Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians), Jack McGeary (Boston Red Sox), and Michael Boyden (Washington Nationals), with many other invites pending.
New Underload Baseball Record!
Resident flamethrower Julian Archuleta (Peninsula HS, 2015) hit 109 MPH on […]

By |September 2nd, 2013|Mechanics, Motion Analysis, Seminars, Training|0 Comments

A Biomechanical Understanding of the Late Launch (Wolforth Tenet)

While in Houston for the Ultimate Coaches’ Bootcamp, Ron talked about a “late launch” being important in the pitching delivery. You see it in pitchers like Roger Clemens and Trevor Bauer:

You should theoretically see it in Dr. Marshall’s pitchers, since he teaches to point the acromial line towards home plate and forwardly rotate the torso as far as possible before ball release, but you don’t see this in Jeff Sparks or Mike Farrenkopf:

Brian Oates recently wrote about the late launch over at Oates’ Specialties, saying (amongst other things):
A late release does not only help a pitcher exert more linear force behind the ball toward home plate (resulting in better velocity and command), but it is also key to efficient pronation of the arm.
A reader of my blog emailed me and asked:
I was reading up on your site and oatesspecialties blog on his site about late launch. I think I basically understand the principle of having your throwing shoulder in front of glove shoulder. The description of applying force in a straight line to the target is where I get lost. I’m interpreting it like pushing the ball. I know my interpretation is wrong. Can you clarify a bit?
If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s taking a cue and breaking it down into its specific biomechanical parts. So, let’s get cracking!


By |January 22nd, 2013|Mechanics, Motion Analysis|4 Comments

Andrew Cashner’s Pitching Mechanics (Quick Post)

While I was going through my huge library of pitching clips (over 3 GB at this point), I found one of my favorite examples that shows how complicated the 95 MPH delivery can be.

Enter Andrew Cashner, a man who can throw 100 MPH:

Note where the video is slowed down. It’s not rotation, it’s not linear momentum, it’s both. This movement cannot be trivialized, and furthermore, it can’t be taught as a series of drills.

95+ MPH velocity doesn’t come out of the arm through conscious thought and simple checkpointing in the delivery. There is a certain amount of violence and sacrifice of tangible control that goes into it. If you try to consciously control your pitching arm or upper trunk at the speeds that they rotate, you are doomed to throw no harder than 85 MPH – at best.

Just a quick thought for this Sunday!

By |December 30th, 2012|Mechanics, Motion Analysis, Video|1 Comment