JP is one of the young professional pitchers that Paul met and worked with during a stint as a special instructor. Paul’s main attention was talking to JP about the mental side and developing a solid approach to game situations. JP sent us a couple different videos from minor league outings and these pictures were taken from those videos. We are including frame captures from a side view and front view. As mentioned before, different camera angles can be useful to have a thorough basis by which to make judgments about a pitcher’s mechanics.
The first picture of this set shows that the leg lift is clean with the hip over-closed. In the second picture the hands are separated as the knee just starts to drop. This early separation is key to getting the arm up in time. There is early upward tilt of the hips and shoulders to help keep the weight back. We see the lead leg moving over-closed in the early part of the stride.
In these two pictures, with the stride nearly complete, the stride foot moves from over-closed to being taken to the target. We can see that the heel of JP’s stride foot leads in these pictures. These two pictures show that JP’s stride foot stays very close to the ground as he “searches” for his landing position.
In the earlier pictures we see that JP started with a long reverse arm swing with the ball leading, but after that start, JP’s arm swing changes so that the elbow leads the ball. We have mentioned that we aren’t in favor of this technique, but as you can see in the first picture, JP gets his elbow even with the shoulder line prior to any external rotation. If he can ALWAYS achieve this elbow above the shoulder position prior to stride foot landing he should not have shoulder impingement issues.
The second picture shows that the external rotation goes through 90+ degrees by the time the stride foot lands. You can see that there is a nice bend in the stride foot knee at landing. In the second picture the front hip opens to cause the stride foot to land and the upper body is still primarily closed to the target, building upper body torque (“shirt stretch”).
In the first picture of this pair the arm is 45 degrees from full external rotation when the upper body is rotated about 45 degrees from the chest being square to the target. This is considered to be good timing. In the second picture JP’s arm is just coming out of full external rotation with the chest still a few degrees from being square to the target.
In the first picture here JP is at release (full extension) with the chest squared up. These pictures show that JP does a good job of matching his arm speed with his upper body speed. Talking with Paul, he indicated that JP touched 97 MPH last year to further indicate his timing is good. At release the stride knee is well flexed. The main issue that is present in the first picture is that the shoulders are almost level. As we discussed in the page on Arm Slot, the slope of your shoulder angle determines your throwing slot and for JP the nearly level shoulders create essentially a sidearm slot. These pictures do show that JP’s throwing mechanics are primarily rotational as he doesn’t have much upper body folding at release.
These two pictures show the issue of fast arm deceleration that is associated with a sidearm slot. The arm stops very quickly after release since it crosses the chest. Ideally we want the arm to decelerate over a longer distance to take pressure off the biceps and transfer it to the larger muscles of the back. The best way to accomplish the longer deceleration path is to increase the arm slot by having more shoulder angle.
JP’s side view has provided us with a lot of information regarding his mechanics, but the front view can clarify a couple things that weren’t completely clear previously.
There isn’t much new here at the start as the over-closed position of the lower and upper half is clear (showing the hitter his number) and the start of the reverse arm swing has nice extension.
The first of these pictures shows the elbow is above the baseball with the elbow even with the shoulder line as we mentioned previously. Pictures 2-4 of this set show the dynamic external rotation in the shoulder starting with the elbow above the ball. The second picture shows the front hip opening for toe landing with the shoulders aimed at home plate. This will build rotational torque in the big muscles of the body. The fourth picture shows that there is very little shoulder tilt angle which is going to result in a nearly sidearm delivery.
From the front view it is much more difficult to determine the timing of the external rotation in the shoulder compared to the upper body rotation. These pictures clearly show the quick deceleration of the throwing arm as it crosses the chest, though.
Again, two different camera angles can provide different information and can sometimes confirm or make you question your early conclusions.