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Overhand Throw Clinic


Throwing Clinic

Does your arm hurt?
Read the following and maybe you'll understand why !!!
The purpose of this page is to educate coaches/players/parents the proper and improper movement of an arm on
an overhand throw. For questions and comments, please e-mail or call: 425-591-7612 anytime.
This Months Topics:
                Valgus Stress- VERY IMPORTANT       The Unintentional Slider  
        The Overhand Throw          

In January, we attended the American Sports Medicine Institute Injuries Course held in Phoenix, AZ.. We were the only "training aid" company invited to attend which obviously spoke volumes about the ThrowMAX and it's potential to cure throwing mechanics people face everyday.

We spent the weekend speaking with professionals like Dr. Tom House,
Dr. James Cain, Dr. E. Lyle Cain Jr, Dr. Michael J. Axe, Kevin Wilk, and many, many other top physicians in their respective fields.

The overwhelming message that every speaker made clear when it comes to mechanics for overhand throwing: the elbow must be at shoulder height or higher and the arm must be approximately at a 90 degree angle to prevent any risk of an arm injury.
If the arm is not at the 90 degree angle (as shown in the examples to the right), a player is
1) applying pressure to the elbow
2) stressing the growth plates

3) over-stretching forearm muscles
4) over-stretching tricep muscles
5) can hyper-extend shoulder muscles/rotator cuff

To understand specifically how these problems develop, one must have a general idea of the dynamics of an overhand throw.

Analyzation of the Overhand Throw


The overhand throwing motion for a baseball/softball is similar to throwing a football but not the exact same (biggest differences seen in the elbow joint). To truly understand overhand throwing, one must look at the motions in their most basic forms. Most sports medicine physicians divide the overhand throw into 5 basic movements:
- wind-up
- early cocking
- late cocking
- acceleration
- deceleration (follow-through)

For ThrowMAX purposes, we will briefly examine the cocking, acceleration, and deceleration stages...

    Early Cocking/Late Cocking
In the beginning of an overhand throw, the cocking of the arm can often determine the arm slot a thrower will use (arm slot is the path of the arm from the beginning of the throw until its conclusion). If the arm is put into anything besides the high-cock position (as shown to right) then the elbow is usually below the shoulder and can cause a mechanically incorrect throw leading to injury.
At the point where the arm reaches maximal acceleration with forearm bent back literally being "dragged" by the bicep/tricep, the elbow joint begins to extend and the shoulder rotates to
    138 degrees. During this part of the throw, the elbow joint begins to experience valgus stress (see Valgus Stress for details). Essentially, what is going on is that the elbow is the only part of the body holding on to the forearm and the components of the elbow (ligaments/tendons/etc) are not extremely strong areas of the human arm - younger players are especially susceptible to high biomechanical forces because of the lack of dynamic strength/stability.                  

The chest contributes greatly to arm speed. When the elbow begins the "drag" the forearm and the shoulder internally rotates counterclockwise, the chest/hips/abdominals. This is the fastest human body motion we are capable of. It is also a very violent activity with tremendous kinetic energy that can cause soft-tissue trauma or even bone breakage.

This stage is considered to be the amount of time between ball release to the end of arm movement. During this stage, muscle groups, elbow joints, and the shoulder perform extreme compression to slow the arm. The throwing shoulder and elbow joint expierence extreme unnatural stresses. The throwing shoulder joint goes through an external rotation (clockwise) of 50 degrees. Because of the incredible stress the muscles/elbow joint/shoulder expierence, players can run a high risk of tendentious, UCL problems, and rotator cuff tears if the player simply "arms" the ball and tries to stop too quickly. This is the reason many catchers develop throwing problems so quickly - the just use the arm and in the deceleration stage there is no dissipation of energy from the arm to the trunk - it simply stops and the force is directly placed on the arm.

Valgus Stress

Valgus stress is experienced by a thrower at both the Acceleration and Deceleration stages of a throw. It is the amount of force generated on the elbow joint. Too much force on the joint leads to the tendentious, tennis elbow, rotator cuff, and UCL issues.
With the acceleration of the arm moving forward, causes the forearm to drop back and be "dragged" behind the rest of the arm. The forearm moves back because of this force
generated and because the the internal rotation (counter-clock wise) of the ball and socket joint in the shoulder. The arm basically looks like it lays flat and
    gives the body a very distorted appearance.
It is important to understand that the weakest point in the arm is the elbow area which is why that is where the most injuries take place. The shoulder is the second weakest area and when a players "arms" a throw, they exert unusual amounts of pressure on these two locations.
    For deceleration, the elbow experiences extreme "pulling" forces when the arm commences on its follow-through and is dragged down or across the body. If the body is not used in the throw, the arm takes the bulk of the force because the energy is not dissipated back to the trunk and the elbow is the only area holding the arm together - this is often called forced extension.

***NOTE - With the ThrowMAX, a player can only put the throwing arm in the high-cock position and has to use the proper arm slot which brings valgus stress to a minimum.

The Unintentional Slider - "tail at the end of every throw"
There are several arm motions players use when throwing a ball (see baseball or softball works page) - often in varying combinations.
1) Elbow below and in front of the shoulder
2) Elbow below the shoulder and the hand near the ear
3) Elbow above the shoulder and the hand near the ear
All three common arm motions are wrong. A player cannot throw accurately or with distance using the first two. The third motion can injure a player's arm with the snapping motion required to throw hard or with distance. This third motion is the way people used to think catchers should throw, using a cocked arm. This motion also forces the thumb on the top of the ball at the moment of release, causing the ball to spin like a slider, without the player being aware of it. A slider creates the appearance of the seams spinning in circles appearing as a dot as the ball comes towards you. This motion can be very harmful to an arm even more so than an improperly thrown curve. The reason is quite simple: the player is not aware that every throw they make is a slider.
                  Incorrectly Thrown   Correctly Thrown                                    

The reason the thumb gets on the top of the ball is because the wrist feels uncomfortable which is why it adjusts and in turn, cases the fingers to adjust. The reason the wrist is adjusting is because the arm slot being used by the forearm and bicep/tricep (Humerus) is incorrect. The reason the armslot is wrong is because as explained earlier, if a player cocks their arm in anything but the high-cock position, the player runs the risk of making a mechanically poor throw. The key to defeating this issue is to get the hand on top of the ball by cocking the arm incorrectly and in turn, using the correct arm slot.
***Note - the ThrowMAX will only let the player get the elbow to shoulder height or higher, basically force the arm to use correct cocking mechanisms and proper arm slot to prevent injury