My son Ryan and I have done hundreds of video analysis and hundreds of one-on-one pitching lessons this year. And, we have learned why so many pitchers can’t maximize their velocity or performance. We’ve also figured out why so many pitchers get injured, even to the point of needing surgery.
The cause to us is quite clear: Pitching instructors and parents don’t use the valuable tool of video analysis. This is the only accurate means to assess pitching mechanics so that common mechanical faults can be recognized and then fixed.
Besides that, there are other ways to insure that pitchers continue to improve while reducing the risk of injury.
Feel free to add some additional ways in the comments section.
1. Learn how to videotape and recognize mechanical faults that reduce velocity, control and increase arm injury risk
2. Use a scientific based pitching arm and full body warm-up routine prior to all practice bullpens and games (do not stretch prior to pitching warm-up instead)
3. Practice pitching only from a mound or from the surface you will use in games. Don’t use flat ground (unless Little League pitch from a flat surface). Specific pitching practice has proven to the be the fastest way possible to improve, when you’re getting feedback from videotaping. Practice with flat ground pitching or long toss is non-specific practice, which sports science training principles reject for improvement of velocity and for reducing the risk of injury.
4. Ideally pitch in one game a week and throw two practice bullpens to improve experience gained during the previous game. Throw all practice bullpens at 100% game speed levels.
5. Stop using pitching drills (or most training aids) that are counterproductive. Examples of such drills are the towel drill, kneeling drill, and balance drill. Limit these drills, as well as slow movements or hesitation. Focus instead on developing an explosive, smooth, and effortless delivery.
6. Use a science-based, post pitching arm care routine. This improves recovery time and helps restore shoulder/elbow muscle balance. This will reduce the risk of injury.
7. Use common sense pitch count limits and recovery times. This will reduce the risk of injury. However, throw enough pitches in practice bullpens to maintain the proper levels of game fitness and to generate improvement.
8. Get yearly feedback from expert instructors who use video analysis. They should also be knowledgeable on the biomechanics of pitching. This will help you understand if you are on the right track, and help avoid injury.
We repeatedly see pitchers who are waiting far too long to get expert feedback. Every Little League pitcher should have his mechanics evaluated before he gets out of Little League.
Nearly every high school and college pitcher we evaluate is losing 5-7 mph in velocity, simply because they have never had their mechanics evaluated. This is also why so many are getting injured.
Feel free to add additional pointers to help pitchers improve.