Be Careful When Comparing

One of my favorite tools is video analysis.  Yet, one of the tools that can mislead you most is video analysis.  If you don’t know what you are seeing, be very careful about trying to teach your pitcher to follow the example of a famous pitcher on video.

Let’s begin with an example.  Pitchers who throw a curve will traditionally step across with their landing foot very slightly.  If it is a screwball, they might step slightly more open.  Each landing is designed to give them momentum and leverage in a certain direction to help compliment their spin.

A riseball pitcher will keep weight back a bit, a drop pitcher will have more weight over the landing foot.  Both have a purpose that we will discuss at some future point.  Each of these are slight variances from the way she would throw a fastball.  Slight is the key word.

If you take video of your favorite college pitcher and try to compare it with your daughter, you need to compare the precise pitch.  Realize that most college pitchers never, ever throw a fastball.  So, if you are comparing your daughter’s fastball to video of my daughter throwing a riseball, you have to limit the comparisons to only those things which should be the consistent in the two pitches.  If you are not sure what those things are, tread lightly.

Another problem is that many people do not know what they are seeing.  I was telling a friend that jerking the elbow upward sharply at release on a fastball is very inefficient and increases injury risks dramatically.   He asked why a certain successful college pitcher had done it that way and produced a video to support his question.  As we studied the video in super slow motion, he came to see that the pitcher had a perfectly relaxed release and then, a few feet after the ball had left her hand, she aggressively bent the elbow.  In other words, the thing she thought was helping the pitch was occurring after the ball was gone.  A parent watching the video could think the jerking up the elbow after release was a secret to her success.

Recently someone asked me about a technique someone was promoting to give pitchers more speed and this person included a video of a pitcher doing the technique, saying it was the secret to her success.  The very video demonstrated the most common injury that we see among new students, and we have to fix that issue or they are done.  Yet, this video that was being cited and, yes that pitcher on the video suffered chronic shoulder problems.

Video is like any other tool.  It can be fabulous, but is limited by the knowledge of the person using it and can be hindered by pre-conceived notions that the person brings to the table.  If you have questions, feel free to contact us