The influence of baseball pitching distance on pitching biomechanics, pitch velocity, and ball movement

Academic Article

Abstract

  • © 2020 Sports Medicine Australia Objectives: To determine whether increasing pitching distance for adult baseball pitchers would affect their upper extremity kinetics, full-body kinematics, and pitched ball kinematics (ball velocity, duration of ball flight, vertical and horizontal break, strike percentage). Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Twenty-six collegiate baseball pitchers threw sets of five full-effort fastballs from three different pitching distances (18.44 m, 19.05 m, 19.41 m) in a randomized order. Ball velocity, horizontal and vertical break, duration of ball flight, and strike percentage were computed by a ball tracking system, while pitching kinetics and kinematics were calculated with a 12-camera optical motion capture system. Repeated measures analysis of variance was utilized to detect significant differences among the three different pitching distances (p < 0.05). Results: No significant differences in pitching kinetics and kinematics were observed among the varying pitching distances. Ball velocity and strike percentage were also not significantly different among the pitching distances, however, the duration of ball flight and horizontal and vertical break significantly increased with pitching distance. Conclusions: Increasing pitching distance may not alter upper extremity kinetics, full-body kinematics, ball velocity or strike percentage in adult pitchers. However, as pitching distance increases the duration of ball flight and amount of horizontal and vertical break also increase. Increased ball flight duration could be an advantage for the hitter while increased ball break could help the pitcher. In conclusion, it is unlikely that moving the mound backwards would significantly affect pitching biomechanics and injury risk; however, the effects on pitching and hitting performance are unknown.
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    Author List

  • Diffendaffer AZ; Slowik JS; Hart K; Andrews JR; Dugas JR; Cain EL; Fleisig GS