“Get on top of the ball” is a common phrase players hear during pitching instruction. This is in an effort to correct players who pitch sidearm or close to sidearm. However, this can actually create mechanical inefficiencies. There is a common myth that pitching sidearm or three-quarters to sidearm increases the risk of injury. However, there is no evidence to establish this link. Instead, making pitchers throw over the top can create posture changes that negatively affect performance.
Arm Angle When Pitching is Natural
It’s a common misconception that all pitchers need to throw over the top to create a higher release point. The idea is that higher release points can increase the downward plane. Unfortunately, many pitching lessons offer this advice, which may create biomechanical inefficiencies. Arm slot is based on the arm’s relationship to the spine. Therefore, it’s genetically determined. When a player tries to get on top of the ball, most often they achieve this by bending the spine. This can throw off the spine-hip relationship needed for good posture.
Because most players are unable to “correct” arm slot without negatively affecting posture, it’s safe to say that arm slot comes naturally. Changing it through pitching instruction may not be the best decision for the player. In fact, many of the professional pitchers with good posture and balance actually throw three-quarters to sidearm. Therefore, instead of focusing on arm slot, it’s important to help the player improve posture, balance, and other components of biomechanics.
Focus on Correcting Posture and Balance for Pitching Instruction, not Arm Slot
Rather than telling players not to throw sidearm, it’s important to focus on how to help the player create biomechanically efficient movements during pitching instruction. Generally, we’ve found that most of what the arm does during the pitch is actually intrinsic and part of the player’s unique signature. Trying to change this signature can result in inefficiencies. This can negatively impact performance. However, there are other things players can do to help correct their mechanics.
In most cases, it’s important to find your natural pitching release point. Players can do this by practicing good timing and sequencing. Pitching instruction can help players achieve this. Whether this release point is high up or further off to the side, it can help the player find their own unique way of pitching and help with consistent results. Also, posture and balance are vital for biomechanically efficient pitchers. For example, making sure the head is above the navel and the spine is straight can help pitchers increase their velocity.
At National Pitching, our goal is to help rotational athletes achieve their potential by providing unique, scientifically-proven instruction. Focused on the Tom House Sports Pitcher’s Health and Performance Matrix, our program offers instruction for biomechanics, functional strength, nutrition, and mental management. We work with a wide range of players, from professional MLB players to youth pitching athletes. Get started in our program today by finding a pitching coach near you or joining our V.I.P. online membership.