BREAKING DOWN THE JOINT ANGLES OF THE LOWER HALF
Do Vertical Exercises Like Cleans, Squats & Hex Bar Deads Really Carry over to Pitching Velocity?
Weightlifting is finally making a comeback in the world of Baseball performance, buutttt – like many things in baseball – the coaches that are making the major “advances” in the weight-room in our sport are pretty far behind.
Let me explain.
It’s been our finding that the Power Generated from the Lower half of a pitcher has more to do with abduction, internal rotation, and external rotation of the hips/femurs (thighs) than hip extension or knee flexion.
Yet a large majority of the strength programs that even “major league level” places are putting out are dominated by exercises that are vertical or straight up and down in fashion…
This is something I’m currently digging into fairly deeply, examining my best throwers from a few levels of play, high school, college, minor leagues, majors.
I’ve been preaching that movements that accentuate abduction and external / internal rotation of the femurs are the drivers to pitching display, and the other night I had a little breakthrough.
Scrolling tough these photos of @jacobbarnes last season throwing a pen, I snap shotted a few random positions spanning from the time initial ground contact occurred on the stride leg to the time point of release of the ball
I did this a few dozen times over and over to make sure it wasn’t just happenstance and relaid my angles with a scrutinizing and objective point of view.
I came up with quite a few revelations that supported the thoughts I have had and have been pushing to the throwing community for the last few years
THE ANGLE OF KNEE FLEXION REMAINS CONSTANT
Once ground contact has been made the angle of flexion of the athletes femurs and tibia (knees) remains virtually the same through out the remainder of the delivery and during arguably the most important part in the action (late cocking)
THE ANGLE BETWEEN THE LEGS (GROIN) STAYS CONSTANT
Second the angle between both femurs in relation to the pelvis is nearly identical during that first 70% of the late cocking phase
This then shows that abduction and internal / external rotation of the femurs simultaneously is what is actually creating the velocity in the athletes lower half and transferring it up his #kineticchain as everyone in baseball likes to say.
VERTICAL EXERCISES DON’T CORRELATE TO PITCHING DISPLAY
Basically what I’m saying here is – Knee extension and flexion are not the primary movements that pitching athletes should be training to develop more on the mound. So exercises that are dominate in those actions – Ie hex-bar Deadlifts; Vertical jumping; Free squatting; – Are less than optimal for athletes to develop force and power and ultimately movement velocity of the body specific to how he moves on the mound.
The problem with these exercises is that they are primarily vertically driven and revolve around the vertical production of force for displacement of the body.
In the images above you can clearly see that what is happening in the lower half of the body is far from vertical planes or directions of force, and more so; the athlete is producing massive stretch of the groin, internal and external rotation of the opposing hips.
This is a major reason why we prioritize movements like Wide Stance Box Squats and Sumo Deadlifts, because though the result in hip extension, they do so through developing the glutes, hamstrings and hips, and require the athlete to move powerfully through Abduction, Internal Rotation and External rotation of the femurs (thigh bones)