What does a car crash test have to do with pitching mechanics?
One of the most important requirements of good pitching mechanics is how the body and arm work to generate, shift, and exert energy. I use the analogy of a crash test to demonstrate how the body starts, builds up, and releases its energy. By no means am I a physicist or scientist of any kind. I am a former pitcher that pays attention to the things around me to use in my lessons to provide a better understanding for the kids and parents. I hope this information helps you to understand how our bodies are machines, that when used correctly, can generate energy and momentum to increase velocity and better command.
In the video below, I want you to watch how the energy (movement of the car going forward) starts. It slowly builds up in a straight line towards a target (wall). As it hits the wall, watch how the energy is moved from the car to the objects (dummy) in the car. Continue reading below the video.
How Do Pitchers Compare:
- As pitchers, we start our deliveries from a stand still, just like the car at the beginning of the crash test.
- When we start our delivery we are gathering energy and momentum like the car moving down the track.
- As our front foot strides out and lands it establishes a mark or “wall” to run into. A pitchers front side (landing foot and glove side arm) have created the wall that their bodies will run into.
- As the car hits the wall, everything on the front of the car stops and the energy in the backside of the car instantly moves forward towards the wall.
- As a pitcher strides, lands and establishes the “wall” his momentum and energy start to shift from his backside towards the wall (not a push-off but natural slide of energy from back-side to front-side)
- Once the car stops moving, the energy is transferred to the only part that is movable – the dummy. As a result of the body of the car stopping and energy transfer to the dummy, the dummy goes flying straight forward.
- As the pitcher moves his body into his front-side “wall”, his body will stop moving for a split-second and the energy will transfer to the only part moving – his throwing arm.
There are a few more areas to keep in mind as you mull this over.
- The car started and maintained a steady build up speed towards the wall. A pitcher also needs to start and build up as he goes through his delivery.
- The car did NOT thrust towards the wall as it was driving. A pitcher does not need to thrust or “push-off” towards the catcher or his front-side.
- The car did not lose height or direction prior to hitting the wall. A pitcher needs to maintain his height and direction until the ball leaves his hand. Too many pitchers focus on “following through” and releasing down to get the ball down. This would be like the cars front tires blowing out just before it hits the wall (finishing down) or the car swerving to the right or left just before impact (bad direction). Both scenarios would make the energy and momentum transfer differently. Probably a similar effect but not as consistent or repeatable.
I hope you can put this analogy to use next time your going through your pitching mechanics.
Check back often for more baseball information that makes sense! And wear your seat-belts!