BASEBALL PITCHING TECHNIQUE WITH THE HEEL OR TOE STRIKE

  • Joseph M. Rodrigues
  • John Mahr
  • Michael Leigh
  • Peter Francis

Abstract

An increased concern about throwing arm injuries has prompted biomechanical investigators to examine the mechanics of overarm baseball pitching techniques. A review of the literature reveals that shoulder injuries can be subdivided into two groups: anterior and posterior. Injuries to the anterior shoulder are said to occur during the late cocking and acceleration phases (1,2,4,5,6). Injuries to the posterior shoulder are due to inadequate deceleration of the throwing arm after release (1,3,5,6). Rasch and Burke (1978) speculated that elbow injuries occur medially from traction stresses, laterally from compression of the articular surfaces, and at the posterior aspect due to compression of the olecronon process and olecronon fossa. A number of techniques have been proposed by coaches and physicians in an attempt to decrease injury causing stresses. Sain and Andrews (1985) stressed the importance of using a "toe-strike" technique of pitching. That is, the initial ground contact with the leading foot should be made with the ball of the foot, rather than with the heel. The latter method is referred to as the "heel-strike" technique. It has been hypothesized that the heel-strike technique causes an abrupt stop or "blocking" of the body that interrupts the smooth transition from the cocking phase to the acceleration phase. It has also been hypothesized that the interruption in the desirable sequence of events in the pitching motion will in some way increase the stresses on vulnerable anatomical structures of the body. However, such injury producing mechanisms have not been precisely identified.
Published
2008-04-19
Section
Coaching and Sports Activities