Monday, October 10, 2005

Working with the Elbow

Elbow Extension: How can it be Improved?

Velocity Variable: Elbow/bicep extension during the pitching motion

According to a 2001 Fleisig and Andrews’s study, elbow extension is one of the four key elements found in high velocity pitchers. Elbow extension occurs during the acceleration phase of the delivery right before release. High velocity pitchers like shot putters, typically pronating their pitching arm and extending through release.

The following drills promote strength and increase speed of elbow extension. The Two Knee Shotput Throw practices the final stage of elbow extension and concentrates attention on release. The Standing Shotput Throw practices both stages of proper release. First, it has pitchers perform the proper upper arm circle and maxium extentsion of elbow. Both drills, if done correctly, slots the pitcher’s arm in the proper spot and helps achieve maxium external rotation.

Two Knee Shot Put Throw:

The pitcher starts on both knees facing the target, which should be approxamately 25-30 feet away. The pitcher will rotate torso so the lead arm’s elbow is facing the target. When the lead arm is bent and pointing at the target the pitcher will raise their throwing upper arm to shoulder height. When the arm is raised to the proper height, the pitcher will relax the elbow, forearm, and wrist. When relaxation is complete, the pitcher should find their forearm resting on their bicep. By relaxing the elbow, the pitcher should achieve increased external rotation. The ball should be by the pitcher’s ear and the pitcher’s position will resemble a shotputter getting ready to throw. When the pitcher’s position is correct, they will rotate torso and bring the lead arm/glove right to their stomach. The pitcher will then extend the elbow, forearm, and wrist out towards their target. The pitcher should focus on the feel of the extension and how it takes place out front when a pitch is delivered properly. The pitcher should also play close attention to the wrist and give it an aggressive snap at the end of the pitch.

Standing Shot Put Throw:

The pitcher starts in the set position with a target 50-60 feet away. With the hands and glove together, the pitcher will break the ball from the glove. When breaking the hands, the pitcher will focus on circling the upper arm and the relaxing of the forearm, elbow, and wrist. The pitcher’s lead arm should be bent and the elbow pointing at the target. The upper arm should make a complete rotation. The pitcher can start this circling process slowly and work on picking up the speed once the action is mastered. In this drill, the pitcher should practice the load, taking the weight back, and the stride, taking the weight toward the target. The load must take place inorder to get momentum moving in the stride. The break and circling of the upper arm should take place simuitiously while the stride is occuring. While relaxing the forearm, elbow, and wrist the pitcher should weight until the forearm contacts the bicep as soon as this happens the pitcher must concentrate on extending the elbow toward the target. This touch tells the pitcher it is time to release the pitch. The pitcher should also play close attention to the wrist and give it an aggressive snap at the end of the pitch. Again, the arm action can start out slow, with a partner at 20-30 feet. Once the motion becomes familiar, the pitcher can increase the tempo and the distance of the target can be lengthen. The pitcher’s goal should be to circle the upper arm and extend the elbow at top speed.

Matsuo, T, Escamila, RF, Fleisig GS, Barrentine, SW, and Andrews, JR. Comparison of kinematic and temporal parameters between different pitch velocity groups. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 17(1): 1-13, 2001.

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