Do Mound Height and Pitching Distance Affect Youth Baseball Pitching Biomechanics?

Academic Article


  • Background: Pitching injuries continue to be a serious problem, with adolescents now representing the group with the most injuries. Some have proposed that lowering or eliminating the pitching mound in youth baseball may reduce joint stress and subsequent injuries. Another potential risk factor is advancing from youth to adult pitching distance without an intermediate distance. Hypotheses: It was hypothesized that for a group of young pitchers, pitching kinetics and kinematics would change with mound height. It was also hypothesized that pitching kinetics and kinematics would change with pitching distance. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Twenty-one young (12.6 ± 0.5 years) baseball pitchers pitched 5 full-effort fastballs each from 5 different conditions, in random order: 14.02-, 16.46-, and 18.44-m distances from a 25 cm–high mound, 16.46-m distance from a 15 cm–high mound, and 16.46-m distance from flat ground. Pitching biomechanical values were collected with a 12-camera automated motion capture system. Ball velocity and 31 other parameters were computed for each pitch. Data were compared between the 3 mound heights at 16.46 m by use of repeated-measures analysis of variance and paired post hoc t tests (P <.05). Similarly, data were compared between the 3 distances from the 25-cm mound via repeated-measures analysis of variance and paired post hoc t tests (P <.05). Results: No differences were found in ball velocity, shoulder kinetics, or elbow kinetics associated with mound height. Ten kinematic parameters differed with mound height, including 8 parameters at lead foot contact. Maximum shoulder horizontal adduction torque and maximum shoulder anterior force increased with pitching distance. Only 3 kinematic parameters showed significant differences with pitching distance. Conclusion: The hypothesis that shoulder and elbow kinetics would change with mound height was not supported by the data. Several kinematic differences were found, but the majority were at lead foot contact before the rapid, dynamic phases of pitching. Change in pitching distance was associated with slight increase in shoulder kinetics as well as a few kinematic differences. Clinical Relevance: Lowering or eliminating pitching mounds in youth baseball would not significantly decrease joint stress and injury risk to young pitchers. However, when available, transition from 14.02-m to 16.46-m to 18.44-m pitching distance may reduce stress on the young throwing shoulder.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Fleisig GS; Diffendaffer AZ; Ivey B; Oi T
  • Start Page

  • 2996
  • End Page

  • 3001
  • Volume

  • 46
  • Issue

  • 12