The photos below are of Felix Hernandez, Greg Maddux, Josh Beckett and Randy Johnson. The other 4 pitchers are Justin Verlander, Roger Clemens, John Smoltz and Roy Oswalt. The photos are an attempt to illustrate the positioning of the ball in relationship to the line of the shoulders. Visualize the front shoulder as the scope of a high powered rifle where you set the cross hairs on the target (the catcher’s mitt). With the scope on the target, the body’s linear momentum must establish direction that is straight “To” and “Through” the target lane. The target lane is the width of the catchers shin guards. Visualize a straight line from the ground – upward of each shin guard creating a target lane to direct the body. In the middle of the target lane is the target where you drive your back shoulder into allowing the throwing arm to follow that pathway.
If you have read any of my eBooks or listened to any of my videos, you heard me say that the throwing arm is an extension of the body and the kinetic chain when properly linked starts on the ground and eventually leads to the shoulder line.
Take a look at these big league elites, using their front shoulder like the scope of a rifle directing the front shoulder “To” the target lane and drive the back shoulder “Through” the target lane. When performed correctly the catcher will be able to catch the pitchers back shoulder that is driven in the catchers mitt.
In the same photos you will see green arrows. These arrows indicate upper and lower body separation aka hip/shoulder separation. If the body doesn’t separate then the shoulder line follows the lower half of the body causing the upper half to open early. This is a major problem for a lot of pitchers especially youth pitchers. When you have no separation the throwing arm is force to be the sole source of power to throw the baseball. Without separation of the upper and lower half the linear momentum can never be funnel upward, through the lower torso and upper torso leading to the shoulder line. The result…. the front and back shoulder travel across the target lane causing inconsistent velocity, poor control but more importantly, exposing the throwing arm to injury. Pitchers should be trained to allow the shoulders to create the arm angle. With that being said, the baseball needs to be in the close proximity to the line of the shoulders. My analogy is the shoulder line is like the barrel of a rifle. The barrel of a rifle is straight not curved. The second set of photos with the 2 green circle is illustrating the pathway of the back shoulder straight “to” and “through” the target lane. See how the 2 circles are straight inline with where the arm extended too.
Focus should be place on the back shoulder not the throwing arm. The big league technique works close to the spine rotating around it, too many pitchers work far away from spine therefore rotating the spine. Where ever your shoulders lead the arm will follow.