What is the best way to swing? How do the best hitters swing?....These questions are the basis of confusion, debate, and misinformation in baseball. Hitting instructors have remain locked in the debate on what player’s mechanics represents the most efficient swing. They’ve tried to label it as either a “linear” or “rotational” approach.  Two of the five tools a player can have are based on hitting production (power & contact). A baseball player’s value and potential future can be determined by his ability to hit over any other skill because it provides so much value to winning.  But the debate stands…Do our hands drive the knob straight to the ball or do we forget about our hands and let them be passive with our body? Modern technologies (Trackman, HitTrax, ZEPP, SportsVision, etc.) have finally enabled us to cut through this confusion, map the entire swing, and describe the proper mechanics to the efficient swing.

Defining the Efficient Baseball Swing

 

The purpose of this review is to determine how throwing overweight and underweight baseballs affects baseball throwing velocity and accuracy. Two studies examined how a warm-up with overweight baseballs affected throwing velocity and accuracy of 5oz regulation baseballs. One of these studies showed significant increases in throwing velocity and accuracy, while the other study found no significant differences. Three training studies (6 to 12 weeks in duration) using overweight baseballs were conducted to determine how they affected ball accuracy while throwing regulation baseballs. No significant differences were found in any study. From these data it is concluded that warming up or training with overweight baseballs does not improve ball accuracy. Seven overweight and 4 underweight training studies (6 to 12 weeks in duration) were conducted to determine how throwing velocity of regulation baseballs was affected due to training with these overweight and underweight baseballs. The overweight baseballs ranged in weight from 5.25 to 17oz, while the underweight baseballs were between 4 and 4.75oz. Data from these training studies strongly support the practice of training with overweight and underweight baseballs to increase throwing velocity of regulation baseballs. Since no injuries were reported throughout the training studies, throwing overweight and underweight baseballs may not be more stressful to the throwing arm compared to throwing regulation baseballs.

Effects of Throwing Overweight & Underweight Balls on Throwing Velocity & Accuracy

 

This study investigated differences in kinematic and temporal parameters between two velocity groups of baseball pitchers. Data were collected from 127 healthy college and professional baseball pitchers. Those who threw faster than 1 SD above the sample mean (>38.0 m/s) were assigned to the high velocity group (n = 29), and those who threw slower than 1 SD below the sample mean (<34.2 m/s) were assigned to the low velocity group (n = 23). Twelve kinematic parameters and 9 temporal parameters were measured and analyzed. The pattern of lead knee movement was also investigated. Maximum shoulder external rotation, forward trunk tilt at the instant of ball release, and lead knee extension angular velocity at the instant of ball release were significantly greater in the high velocity group. Maximum lead knee flexion angular velocity was significantly greater in the low velocity group. Seventy percent of the high velocity group showed knee extension during the approach to ball release, whereas the low velocity group showed a variety of knee movement patterns involving less knee extension and more knee flexion. The greater shoulder external rotation in the high velocity group produced an increased range of motion during the acceleration phase.

 

Overhand throwing requires contributions from and interaction between all limb segments. Most previous investigations have concentrated on the throwing arm itself, yet poor mechanics at the arm may originate in the lower extremities. Multicomponent ground-reaction forces of both the push-off and landing limbs were measured in six collegiate and one high school level baseball pitchers. Full body kinematics were simultaneously recorded to correlate phases in the pitching cycle with the force data. Pitchers were found to generate shear forces of 0.35 body weight in the direction of the pitch with the push-off leg and to resist forces of 0.72 body weight with the landing leg. Wrist velocity was found to correlate highly with increased leg drive. This study validates the clinical impression that the lower extremity is an important contributor to the throwing motion. Based on this study, strengthening of the lower extremities could be inferred to be important both to enhance performance and to avoid injury.

Comparison of Kinematic & Temporal Parameters in Different Velocity Groups

Ground-Reaction Forces in Baseball Pitching

 

Dr. Coope DeRenne compiles past studies on general resistance training and its effects on increasing throwing velocity in baseball. DeRenne also conducts several studies on the effects of weighted baseballs in increasing throwing velocity. The studies use 4oz and 6oz weight implements, staying within the 20% weight variation limit set in previous studies by the Soviet Olympic Track & Field trianing studies of the 1970's-1980's, with three different training regimens over 6-8 week periods and a control group of no weighted ball training. All training methodologies yielded increases in throwing velocity, with the largest gains seen among the weighted implement training groups. No injuries were reported among any study participants. 

Effects of General, Special, & Specific Resistance Training on Throwing Velocity

 

Using the Ammo Bat System and a 20% Overload/Underload weighted handle and weighted barrel approach, averages bat speeds across all weight implements were able to increase over a 6 week training period. The same approach has been used for throwing velocity enhancement studies. 

Overload / Underload Training - How to Increase Bat Speed

 

Using the Motus Sleeve, researchers caution of the kinematic differences, specifically forward trunk lean and extension at ball release, between max distance long toss and pitching off a mound. The study's conclusion is that hard, horizontal, flat-ground throws have biomechanical patterns similar to those of pitching and are, therefore, reasonable exercises for pitchers. However, maximum-distance throws produce increased torques and changes in kinematics, advising caution in the use of these throws for rehabilitation and training.

The Biomechanical Dangers of Too Much Long Toss

 

Dr. James Andrews of the American Sports Medical Institute explains the factors contributing to rising Tommy John surgeries among youth players, the process of recovering from the surgery, and misunderstandings surrounding the procedure. Year round baseball schedules, specifically in warmer climate regions, are directly linked to drastically higher Tommy John injury rates among youth players. 

Dr. James Andrews of ASMI - The Rise in Tommy John Surgeries

 

University of Physics Professor and consultant to Major League Baseball, Dr. Alan Nathan, discusses the optimum swing parameters for maximizing exit velocity, homerun trajectories, and consistently higher than average Batting Average on Balls in Play (i.e. base hits) by type of hit. The ideal swing plan is in fact 9-17 degrees positive at an exit velocity of 85mph or more to maximize the potential of a base hit. 

Optimizing the Swing - Dr. Alan Nathan

 

 

This study investigated the relationship between strength measures and sprinting performance, and to determine if these relationships varied for different phases of spring running. Twenty (11 males and 9 females) elite junior track and field athletes served as subjects. The conclusion was that strength qualities were related to sprinting performance and these relationships differed for starting and maximum speed sprinting. 

Relationship Between Strength Qualities & Sprinting Performance

 

Results of maximal effort sprinting were digitized, computer processed, and analyzed to focus on the muscle movement patterns about the ankle, knee, hip, should, and elbow. The analysis displayed maximum exertion occurring during eccentric contraction of the hip extensor/knee flexor muscle group during initial ground contact, and the smallest exertion occurred in the small upper limb muscle moments used primarily to maintain balance during sprinting. 

A Kinetic Analysis of Sprinting

 

Relationship Between Strength Qualities & Sprinting Performance

 

This study investigated the relationship between strength measures and sprinting performance, and to determine if these relationships varied for different phases of spring running. Twenty (11 males and 9 females) elite junior track and field athletes served as subjects. The conclusion was that strength qualities were related to sprinting performance and these relationships differed for starting and maximum speed sprinting. 

NSF Certified for Sport - Banned Substance Free Supplements

 

The program's objective is to certify that participating sports supplement manufacturers have met NSF's stringent independent certification process guidelines, which were developed through a consensus process involving regulatory, sports industry and consumer groups. A key component of this program is an NSF Mark on each product label, to show athletes, coaches and consumers that a sports supplement has met NSF's comprehensive Certified for Sport® program guidelines.

 

 

This study investigated the relationship between strength measures and sprinting performance, and to determine if these relationships varied for different phases of spring running. Twenty (11 males and 9 females) elite junior track and field athletes served as subjects. The conclusion was that strength qualities were related to sprinting performance and these relationships differed for starting and maximum speed sprinting. 

Relationship Between Strength Qualities & Sprinting Performance

 

Results of maximal effort sprinting were digitized, computer processed, and analyzed to focus on the muscle movement patterns about the ankle, knee, hip, should, and elbow. The analysis displayed maximum exertion occurring during eccentric contraction of the hip extensor/knee flexor muscle group during initial ground contact, and the smallest exertion occurred in the small upper limb muscle moments used primarily to maintain balance during sprinting. 

A Kinetic Analysis of Sprinting

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