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Insights into the Role of Ground Forces in Creating Velocity

Are you wondering where you might be able to unlock potential and why measuring ground forces is important? A previous study on collegiate pitchers ages 18-22 has unveiled some compelling findings that show how ground forces affect velocity and having 3D ground forces is changing the way pitchers train. Here are a few observations from the study:


Study Observations

Acceleration - Back Leg Drive: Imagine you're on a skateboard. To gain speed, you push off the ground with one foot, right? The longer you push into the ground and the closer the max force backwards is to when your foot comes off the ground, the faster you'll go.

Newtforce pitching mound for Medball Drills

Similarly, pitchers who threw faster

(averaging 83.7MPH) pushed off with their back leg towards second base with 28.6% more force than those who threw slower (around 74.5MPH). However, it's essential to note that this isn't a jump. Instead, it's a drift down the mound into the drive towards home plate, where you build up your max force before applying the brakes with the front leg.


Deceleration - Front Leg Bracing: The front leg serves as a pivotal anchor during the release. The study revealed that high-velocity pitchers exerted 25.6% more force into the ground with their front leg at the time of ball release compared to their lower velocity counterparts.


Force Timing Matters:

The high-velocity group applied maximum and resultant forces on the front leg slightly later in their motion, specifically just before the ball release. This is in contrast to the lower velocity group, where these max forces were observed earlier.


Implications for Coaching

You understand the importance of using your legs to generate velocity and effective motion. Having insights on exactly how you use your legs from our Newtforce mound enables better communication, planning, tracking, and validation. Maybe the biggest benefit is it allows for individualized development and exploring the best way to use the ground effectively for a pitcher.


One way we are assessing and affecting acceleration metrics for pitchers at our R&D center is through a Step Back Drill on our mound.


Step Back Drill with Medicine Ball:

  • This is a go-to drill for improving acceleration-based metrics like Accel Impulse Score, a primary attractor for velocity. Yes, the drill does artificially increase Accel Impulse by forcing the athlete to extend the amount of time they apply Y force (force towards second base) with the back leg. With that being said, we see phenomenal results when the athlete blends these with normal throws. The drill provides the 'feel' which then leads to a better Accel Impulse Score when they revert back to a normal throw.



Summary

At higher levels of play, it's the fine-tuning and individualized training that can unlock potential. For the youth it’s building a base for using your legs properly to generate velocity and help with command and future development.


Accessing and having actionable information on the lower half will change the way you train your pitchers at every level.


Zach Day



Study Cite

Kageyama M, Sugiyama T, Takai Y, Kanehisa H, Maeda A. Kinematic and Kinetic Profiles of Trunk and Lower Limbs during Baseball Pitching in Collegiate Pitchers. J Sports Sci Med. 2014 Dec 1;13(4):742-50. PMID: 25435765; PMCID: PMC4234942.





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