Baseball Pitching Diagnosis... The Fault and The Fix - Indianapolis Fitness And Sports Training

Baseball Pitching Diagnosis… The Fault and The Fix

written by Bill Hartman

Josh Lindblom is one of the most cerebral baseball pitchers I’ve come across since we opened IFAST over 10 years ago.

He’s a scientist when it comes to pitching mechanics and understanding how his body feels, when it’s working well, and when it’s not.

Josh has pitched in the show for three major league teams in his career but is currently one of the more popular baseball players in Korea. Technology allows us to stay in touch as he works through the season, and occasionally we have to problem solve as just like any athlete, things come up when you’re pushing your body and talent to the maximum.

Josh gave me permission to share our most recent text conversation because he thought it may help someone else understand why sometimes you can simply coach a pitcher to improve their mechanics and sometimes it’s how your body is working that’s the problem.

And Josh also said you have to call it…”there’s a reason you can’t do the things you want to do”

Pitch Faults and Physiology

Josh gets it. He knows that how his body works (his physiology) determines how he’ll pitch, so he’s gone to great lengths to always make sure he’s physically prepared to play.

When he first came to IFAST, he was dealing with a mildly sore elbow issue that resulted in some numbness in his right thumb. The soreness wasn’t interfering with his pitching, but he did feel it the next day after a game.

Because Josh has always taken great care of himself, we were able to resolve his arm issue in his first session. Then we began to work to improve how his body moved not just for pitching but to assure that he was feeling healthy overall. Throughout his training, Josh became a great student of the IFAST philosophy and process and learned how to communicate with us when he felt “off” in regard to his movement and performance. It is this aspect of training that many athletes miss, but because Josh is a scientist in regard to his pitching, it allows us to problem solve even when he’s in Korena and I’m in Indianapolis.

Here’s how our text conversation went. [Double click the images to read the texts]

It’s not uncommon for the physical stress of travel and pitching to accumulate throughout the season. Even the best-conditioned athletes will have times where their recovery is compromised or a bad night’s sleep sets them back a bit. My main concern was that Josh’s previous arm issue wasn’t recurring. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, but you can see in the text that Josh was feeling more restricted in the muscles on the right side of his body toward the back.

As with most pitchers, he tried to fix it mechanically by altering his throwing mechanics to compensate for the tightness. This typically results in a common compensation thus my comment about lifting his left elbow as he begins his stride toward home plate.

Sure enough, that’s what he was doing. There are also some other common and predictable compensations that come with it.

He sent this confirming photo.

Essentially what we concluded was that Josh was strongly recruiting the muscles on the right side of his body above the hip. His attempts to compensate for this pattern allowed him to continue to pitch effectively but was moving him further from his ideal mechanics.

A right-handed pitcher should be able to “load” and push off the right hip with power as he strides toward home plate with his left toes pointing toward home plate. This results in a wear pattern down the center of the right shoe. You can see in the photo above that his foot doesn’t have time to orient itself fully toward home plate and remained pointing to the right.

Josh’s wear pattern confirmed that he wasn’t pushing off the right side toward home, but rather, he was merely dragging his right leg and keeping the right foot turned inward.

The Fix

We always have to consider the individual when prescribing exercises. The advantange we have with Josh is that he’s an intelligent athlete when it comes to feel and his familiarity with our IFAST process. We gave Josh exercises that prevented him from over-recruiting his right back muscles and emphasized controlling his right single leg stance.

After his next outing, I contacted him to see how things went.

He reported that he felt great! His lower body was working well again.

Unfortunately, he took a line drive off his shin, but he still continued to pitch!

Some exercise ideas for you.

Use these to begin to improve spine, rib cage, and shoulder mobility and to improve your control off of your right leg.

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Bill Hartman

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