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A common throwing problem -- dipping the front shoulder

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
Maybe I'm just more acutely aware of it now because I've been working with a couple of players on this problem. But more and more I'm seeing an oddity in the throwing motion of some female softball players: they dip their front shoulders to initiate the throw.

They start out ok, i.e. they turn their bodies and take the ball back properly. But when it's time to start moving forward, their first movement is to lower the glove-side shoulder instead of leaving it in place and driving the throwing shoulder through. When that happens, they tend to look like they're throwing a hand grenade in a WWII movie instead of a softball. The back shoulder gets stuck right about the time they get to square, and the throw is mostly arm.

They may get the ball there, but it's not very efficient. And it won't be as hard as they can throw. If you see this, you need to get the player to keep her glove side shoulder to stay in place, then drive the throwing side shoulder through. I refer to it as replacing the front shoulder with the back one. When they're finished, the throwing shoulder should be lower than the glove side. At minimum, they should be the same height.

Don't be fooled by looking at videos of MLB pitchers, either. They are throwing off a high mound, and what looks like the front shoulder dropping down is really the whole body going down because of the hill. If they were on flat ground the glove shoulder would remain in place. That's the way field players throw.

If your player can't get the hang of leaving the shoulder up, trying having her raise her glove straight up over her head, and leave it there while she throws. You will see an immediate improvement. Then slowly have her lower it until she can make the proper movement with a full throwing motion.

It takes some time and practice to overcome this habit. But in the end it's worth it.

Bingo. Ok more like a lightbulb moment :) and here i was trying to get them to lower the throwing shoulder and it is the other shoulder dropping. I cringe when i see that throwing shoulder pop up since i can see the arm running out of room when they throw. Then the torso bends forward to compensate and often the body moves backward, or the butt push back to create more room.
I believed this was due to not emphasizing the proper follow through and players then focusing on getting back to a receiving position too soon. So they are moving back instead of taking the forward movement in its follow through to a natural standstill.
So the solution is looking at the opposite side. :) thanks

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
My pleasure. I used to look at the same thing. But it's funny how sometimes one subtle thing early in the chain can affect bigger things later.

When you think about it, it's the same for throwing as for hitting or pitching. Working against a firm front side allows the power to develop from the back. Without that firm front/solid front shoulder, it all gets a lot more random.
Speaking of a chain, we had a player that play second and she just didn't look right on ground balls. From receipt, bringing gloved ball to belly to throwing.
Then we relised her problem. She fielded the ball beneath her, way too close to her body.
That is why she looked like she was fielding with chin up, had two movements in gathering the ball to her body since she had to clear her pelvic area first then bring the ball to her torso and as a result had a slower release since she was not moving forward and using that jumpstart to throw.
By getting her to field up front, she sees the ball all the way to glove, her weight is forward and it is a smoother motion from receipt to release. All chained from one intervention.
May 12, 2008
I suggest trying to get hold of the late Jim Dixon's book "The Exceptional Athlete" purely for the conceptual work and illustrations concerning throwing.

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