Pitching Mechanics/Terms To Look/Listen For

Pitching mechanics have always been very interesting to me, and as a former pitcher I've paid much attention to the implications of pitching a certain way vs another. After much research and personal experience, these are the things that are of note when watching/listening to a ballgame.

(Warning, lots of pics after the jump)

Tall 'n Fall vs Dip and Drive

Before you look at the individual mechanical devices, all pitchers follow one of two pitching techniques. The classic "Tall and Fall" used by Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson or the "Dip and Drive" used by Oswalt and a slew of other small guys.

Main concept to get here is that The Tall and Fall method tries to capture the added length advantage of a tall guy with long limbs by "falling" forward and whipping his long limbs (some more than others). Where as a smaller pitcher tries to generate power by constricting, on concentrating their body, then thrusting off the rubber in an explosive movement towards home plate.

Arm Angles: There are 3 common arm angles. Over the top (High), Mid (3/4), Sidearm (Low)

Each generate different movement.

High: Downward/vertical movement, generally sinker-ballers with high groundball rates. Also, will usually have nice curveballs.

Mid 3/4: The most common. Very natural and gets benefits from both high and low arm slots.

Low/ Sidearm: Generates lateral/side movement. Great Sliders and two seam fastballs. Jake Peavy is a good example.


The "Power T": This is what all pitchers should strive for. This means to have the Pitching arm bent around 90 degrees with the elbow at or below shoulder level, and the hand straight up "showing the ball" the the 3rd baseman (for righties, 1st base for lefties), not CF. This should occur right as the frontside "stride foot" is about to touch the ground.




Scapular Loading:

This term refers to a pitcher "loading up" by squeezing his shoulder blades together mid wind up. This generates slightly more force and can gain a couple mph of velocity if done right. Jake Peavy does this very well. (warning, trying to overdo this can cause an Inverted W)


Hip-Shoulder Separation:

This is a HUGE part of what makes Tiny Tim Lincecum throw so hard for being such a small guy. The goal here is once in the "cocked t" position, your hips are in-line with your shoulders. Meaning, if you drew a line from shoulder to shoulder that line would be straight aiming dead ahead at home plate. Same with your hips, again aiming straight towards home plate.


Next you begin to bring your hip around, so that a line going from hip to hip would point from 1st to 3rd base now instead of home plate. Meanwhile, having your shoulders still aimed directly at home plate. This hip action would generate a twisting force and would pull your shoulder forward with tons of force.

This is a popular photo because it shows what most other pitchers can't do. Tim is literally coiling his body and then whipping his pitching arm forward just to catch up with the rest of this body. This creates his ridiculously fast arm action, which is the reason most scouts aren't worried about his minor inverted L.


There are dozens of small little additions pitchers can add to try and generate a little more velocity and Tim uses just about all of them. (Ex. Extremely long stride; Tim is the only pitcher I've seen in the majors with a stride over 100% of his height. The goal is 80-90% your height.)


Some other popular tricks to gain velocity.

High leg lift. Creates longer stride and improves timing.

Corked Leg lift. Bringing lead leg up and angled back. Ex. Lincecum, Ted Lilly

PAS Pull. Pitching Arm Side Pull. Using your non-throwing arm to reach and pull back which helps generate force for the pitching arm.

Stepping back off the rubber instead of to the side. this creates momentum forward.

There are many others but these are the most common.


Ian Kennedy inverted W while throwing the ever mysterious vulcan change-up, invented by Eric Gagne.


Billy Wagner Inverted V.


Oh god, that's hard to look at. Bj Ryan actually trying to break his arm off with The Inverted L.

Freddy Garcia; Hyperabduction. Pitching elbow above shoulder.


Kerry Wood; Inverted L/W


- You don't have to be a big believer in the consequences and importance of pitching mechanics to see a simple pattern. Pitchers who throw with improper mechanics get hurt A LOT more than those who don't.

- I read Nolan Ryan's pitching mechanics book a few years back and he stated that he could still throw in the mid 90's in his mid to late 40's solely because his mechanics allowed him to get the most out of his body without injury.

Astros Pitchers:

Roy Oswalt & Wandy Rodriguez both have near perfect mechanics so I will refrain from showing any pics of them.

Brandon Lyon:

Overall, looks pretty good. No major mechanical issues.

Brett Myers:

Overall, his mechanics look "OK" He has some problems but he does get to the Cocked Position on time which is most important. A plus is he has very nice hip-shoulder separation.

This is the only part of his mechanics I don't like. That elbow should never come above his shoulder. He does correct it, but it creates extra stress on his elbow and shoulder as well as disrupting timing.


Ignoring the "Golden Cup" trophy, you can see that he does get to the cocked position just in time as that lead foot gets down, which is good.


The best part of his mechanics. When you here announcers comment on a pitcher "staying closed" or "staying back" this is what they are referring to. Keeping that pitching arm back while the rest of your body "opens up" to face home plate.


Lastly, I would prefer he looked at his target, but I guess I am old fashioned. Haha


Bud Norris:

He has a significant flaw, but again does correct it seemingly in time. Bud has what's being called an Inverted V. which is basically, a raise Inverted L, or half of an inverted W. His elbows should never be above his shoulders. A good rule of thumb is that the ball should always be above the elbow. It's extremely difficult to use improper mechanics following this rule.


In his video, you can see that all things align just right at :04 when he reaches the cocked position.

Felipe Paulino:

Not too many pics/videos of him but from what I can see it looks pretty good. His timing is a bit unorthodox, but I think that has alot to do with his hurried delivery. Which is fine.

The Cocked position, just about perfect.


Matt Lindstrom:

Overall, decent. Pretty much the same as Bud Norris. Small Inverted V, but naturally corrects.

The issue with Lindstrom is that any pitcher who can throw 98+ mph has an increased chance of injury just based on the added stress by creating so much force. This means that even small issues can create significant injuries. I was taught that man was not meant to consistently throw anywhere near 100mph. Most of the ones that do get hurt. Enter Joel Zumaya.

This is a reason that Tim L. stopped throwing 96-97 and concentrated on 92-94ish.



Overall, The Astros are in decent shape. We are just lucky we aren't The Indians. Tons of problems over there.

Hope this helps some, if there are any other pitchers you guys want to talk about, just let me know. It's fairly easy to tell who is and isn't a high injury risk just by looking at them and that can greatly effect potential FA signings or draft picks.