Pushing Off the Rubber, Leg Drive, Ankle-Leg Flex ……Draining the Swamp Part 2

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The overhand pitching motion consists of a sequence of body movements that start when the pitcher lifts the lead foot, progresses to a linked motion in the hips and trunk, and culminates with a ballistic motion of the upper extremity to propel the ball toward home plate. The effective synchronous use of selective muscle groups maximizes the efficiency of the kinetic chain. The lower extremity and trunk generate and transfer energy to the upper extremity. Coordinated lower extremity muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, hip internal and external rotators) provide a stable base for the trunk (core musculature) to rotate and flex. The extremely rapid rate of this motion makes assessment difficult. The time elapsed between front foot contact and ball release is only 0.145 seconds, followed by an additional half second for the ball to reach home plate.

Draining the SwampThe point that I’m trying to make with the above is that throwing a baseball (developing velocity) at a high level is not simply generating force off the rubber (pushing?). Using a single measurement such as the force off the rubber can be interpreted in a number of different ways. “My” interpretation would be that the pitches that developed greater force off the rubber simply had greater intent to throw hard. And in so doing exerted greater force off the rubber. The question is what other mechanical factors did the hardest throwing pitchers exhibit?

In Part 1 “Pushing Off the Rubber, Leg Drive, Ankle-Leg Flex ……Draining the Swamp” I referenced the following research article:

Forces generated in the plane of the pitch were shown to be related to linear wrist velocity when the players were studied as a group. However, correlations between forces and wrist velocity within individual pitchers varied. Some players exhibited trends similar to the group, with wrist velocity increasing with increasing forces. Others demonstrated an opposite trend, with higher forces correlating with diminished velocities. This difference suggests that there may be an effect of attempting to overthrow, with loss of velocity resulting from attempts to generate unnaturally high push-off forces.

I would “suggest” that is also possible that these players (“with higher forces correlating with diminished velocities”) simply had less efficient mechanics. Overthrowing is having less efficient mechanics. Less efficient mechanics can also mean a linear push off the rubber as opposed to a rotational push off the rubber. Less efficient mechanics can also mean less separation between upper and lower body or poor scapula loading or……

To be continued

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