A Three-Dimensional Kinematic Comparison Of Pitching Techniques Between Male And Female Fast-Pitch Softball Players

  • Kim McKeon
  • Cynthia L. Tant
  • Brenda Greene
Keywords: softball, windmill pich

Abstract

The mechanics of a softball windmill pitch are primarily documented in coaching books, magazines, and videos. The purpose of this study was to analyze selected mechanical parameters of various pitches performed by male and female college age pitchers. Additionally, to investigate invariant features of the fastball with other pitches to identify which parameters are different between pitches. Five male (age: 22.2 +/ - .84 yrs; hgt: 180 +/ - 4.5 cm; mass: 84 +/ - 6.2 kg) and 6 female (age: 21.3 +/ - ..27 yrs; hgt: 176 +/ - 5.2 cm; mass: 74 +/ - 6.2 kg) fast-pitch pitchers served as subjects. Several trials of each . pitch fastball (FB), riseball (RB), change (CH), curve (CR), and drop (DR, men only) for each performer were videotaped, during competition, with 2 Panasonic AG-450 camcorders positioned at a 80° convergence angle to the pitcher's plate. Shutter speeds were set at 1/1000th speed and nominal frame rates of 30 Hz. After filming, analysis of the coordinates was performed using the Ariel Performance Analysis System. One trial of each subject's view was captured, 17 data points digitized, synchronized, and transformed. Data were smoothed with a digital filter set at 10 Hz. Because of limited subject numbers and trials, descriptive statistics and trends in the data were evaluated for practical applications. Stride lengths indicate different strategies are used for different pitches. The males exhibit strides, in cm, of 173.52 FB, 174.97 RB, 156.51 CH, 163. 66 CR, and 173.64 DR and females 145.56 FB, 143.78 RB, 130.83 CH, and 137.28 CR. Linear ball and hand velocities at release also indicate different strategies, with males exhibiting greatest velocities for the FB and CR and women FB and RB. The release angles of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist and the angular velocities of the trunk, upper arm, forearm and hand differ between the pitches, sexes, and performers. The data indicated that the windmill softball pitch is a very individualistic skill. Each performer adapted their technique to individual anthropometric and strength characteristics, therefore, making it very difficult to notice trends within each pitch. Additional trials of each pitch could assist in comparing invariant features within each performer.