The mechanics of throwing a baseball (with kids)

We use all of our body to pitch a baseball. The effort starts in our legs, and then moves upwards to our shoulders before it reaches our elbows, wrists and hands. It’s a very difficult thing to do well.

Needless to say there has been tons of research on the baseball throwing mechanics of a for two main reasons. Firstly, people want – and need – to know how to do it well (and so that they can repeat the pitch successfully again and again). Secondly, we need to appreciate the possible health impacts that could happen as a result of using bad mechanics; we don’t want to hurt ourselves in the process.

Some of this stuff is very technical – articles entitled The Biomechanical Aspects of Baseball Pitching for instance – which we need a degree just to decipher. Also, when we’re thinking about teaching pitching mechanics to kids, there are other important elements to add to the mix.

There are negative health impacts for kids as a result of teaching poor pitching mechanics
We need to think differently when teaching our kids how to pitch in a number of ways. Their bodies are still growing and are not able to take the pressure of repeated practice in the same way as adults (even teenagers need different teaching and practice methods). The American Sports Medicine Institute says that a key cause of kids’ injuries may be the teaching of “poor pitching mechanics” as well as the fact that they may not be fit enough (It cites the rise in injuries to the elbows and shoulders in young pitchers). A full list of recommendations can be found online at www.asmi.org but they include watching kids for tiredness (this might be shown through poor pitching) and not letting kids throw overhead for certain months of the year (ideally four).

Keep the teaching of mechanics simple
Another important point is that kids are not always able to understand the technical process behind the mechanics in way that enables them to learn effectively. The simple truth seems to be to just keep it simple. The ASMI recommends teaching basic throwing before anything else. Secondly, should be how to pitch a fastball. Thirdly, should come the change-up.

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