Ball flight kinematics, release variability and in-season performance in elite baseball pitching

The purpose of this study was to quantify ball flight kinematics (ball speed, spin rate, spin axis orientation, seam orientation) and release location variability in the four most common pitch types in baseball and relate them to in-season pitching performance. Nine NCAA Division I pitchers threw four pitching variations (fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider) while a radar gun measured ball speed and a 600-Hz video camera recorded the ball trajectory. Marks on the ball were digitized to measure ball flight kinematics and release location. Ball speed was highest in the fastball, though spin rate was similar in the fastball and breaking pitches. Two distinct spin axis orientations were noted: one characterizing the fastball and changeup, and another, the curveball and slider. The horizontal release location was significantly more variable than the vertical release location. In-season pitching success was not correlated to any of the measured variables. These findings are instructive for inferring appropriate hand mechanics and spin types in each of the four pitches. Coaches should also be aware that ball flight kinematics might not directly relate to pitching success at the collegiate level. Therefore, talent identification and pitching evaluations should encompass other (e.g., cognitive, psychological, and physiological) factors.
© Copyright 2016 Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. Blackwell Publishing. All rights reserved.

Subjects: baseball throws release movement sports equipment hand arm competition period analysis biomechanics aerodynamics velocity coaching
Notations: sport games technical and natural sciences
Tagging: Spin-Werfer Spin Kinematik
DOI: 10.1111/sms.12443
Published in: Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Published: 2016
Volume: 26
Issue: 3
Pages: 256-265
Document types: article
Language: English
Level: advanced