Finger forces in fastball baseball pitching

Academic Article


  • Forces imparted by the fingers onto a baseball are the final, critical aspects for pitching, however these forces have not been quantified previously as no biomechanical technology was available. In this study, an instrumented baseball was developed for direct measurement of ball reaction force by individual fingers and used to provide fundamental information on the forces during a fastball pitch. A tri-axial force transducer with a cable having an easily-detachable connector were installed in an official baseball. Data were collected from 11 pitchers who placed the fingertip of their index, middle, ring, or thumb on the transducer, and threw four-seam fastballs to a target cage from a flat mound. For the index and middle fingers, resultant ball reaction force exhibited a bimodal pattern with initial and second peaks at 38–39 ms and 6–7 ms before ball release, and their amplitudes were around 97 N each. The ring finger and thumb produced single-peak forces of approximately 50 and 83 N, respectively. Shear forces for the index and middle fingers formed distinct peak at 4–5 ms before release, and the peaks summed to 102 N; a kinetic source for backspin on the ball. An additional experiment with submaximal pitching effort showed a linear relationship of peak forces with ball velocity. The peak ball reaction force for fastballs exceeded 80% of maximum finger strength measured, suggesting that strengthening of the distal muscles is important both for enhancing performance and for avoiding injuries.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 1902333
  • Author List

  • Kinoshita H; Obata S; Nasu D; Kadota K; Matsuo T; Fleisig GS
  • Start Page

  • 172
  • End Page

  • 181
  • Volume

  • 54