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Elbow injuries

May 13, 2008
4
0
Has anyone experianced a pitcher continuing to bang their elbow on their hip while pitching. It finally got so bad this season my 15 yr old daughter fractured it at the nationals in Midland. It continues to swell and get black and blue with just one hit. She is thin or should I say bony and her elbow and hip line up genetically. We practice fine but once in the game it continues to get bruised.
Help?
Steve
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,924
83
Dallas, Texas
Your daughter is pitching incorrectly. She is closing her hips before or at the same time as her arm passes through the release point.

One defining characteristic of a woman (as opposed to a girl or a man) is that her hips are wider than her shoulders. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if her hips are closed (i.e., her hips are facing home plate) before release, the arm will have to go around the hips. When your DD tries to throw hard, she doesn't take her arm around her hips right, so she hits her hips.

To be honest, this kind of story is pretty common. It is surprising that your DD lasted this long. Most of those kind of pitchers are gone at 14U, let alone 16U.

If you want to correct her pitching motion, she is really going to have to work very hard in the off-season. She has to relearn her pitching motion to keep the hips open as the ball is released.

The drills are pretty common, because this is a real common problem. The problem is her age. It is going to be a real challenge to fix it now.
 

halskinner

Banned
May 7, 2008
2,689
0
This is a common malady for a pitcher who pitches with the elbow straight and locked.

Buy a $1.00 hula hoop. Hold that near her pitching side right against her body. Tell her to imagine that hula hoop is the path the ball takes as it makes the windmill circle. Then, hold the hula hoop around an inch or so farther away from the body. That is the path we WANT the ball to take.

Have her stand in front of a full length mirror, NO SOFTBALL! Use a pair of rolled up socks. Place a line of blue masking tape straight up and down on the mirror. Have her line herself up so she is looking at the mirror and the ball at her side is right on that blue line.

Have her make her windmill circle slowly and keep the ball on that blue line through the entire circle. Then have her take her stride, slowly, and do the same thing.

YOU stand directly behind her a few feet and watch to make sure the ball (Socks) dont drift off that line at any point.

Start off slowly and slowly work up to doing it fast while keeping the ball on that line.

Winning Fast Pitch Softball
 
May 13, 2008
4
0
I understand the mirror drill.
She does pitch with a straight arm. She is very flexibile and when in the game speed mode her arm actually hyperextends.
Arm you saying she should have her arm slightly bent when she pitches?
 

halskinner

Banned
May 7, 2008
2,689
0
I understand the mirror drill.
She does pitch with a straight arm. She is very flexibile and when in the game speed mode her arm actually hyperextends.
Arm you saying she should have her arm slightly bent when she pitches?

Flexible or not, if the elbow is straight, you effectively lock out the large muscles of the upper arm from contributing to ball speed. it also places tremendous stress on the elbow joint itself.

A slight bend in the elbow throughout the entire arm circle makes for a faster circle AND those muscles can then protect the joints, tendons and ligaments.

Pitching with the elbow straight and locked has been deemed an unsafe pitching style for many years now. I am surprised it has not done damage to her shoulder as THAT is what usually gets hyperextended and something tears or gets strained.

Winning Fast Pitch Softball
 
It sounds like your daughter has a problem with the angle of her hips. Obviously, her hip is beating the ball. I use the 45 straddle the hurdle drill. Have your daughter stride over a hurdle set up just behind the landing foot (to avoid injury) and straddle the hurdle at finish. The hurdle stops the drag and creates the 45 degree angle of the hips. Once she feels the hip angle simply allow her to close after release. Also the elbow needs flex to create the elbow to wrist to finger whip action. Skinner has a point to so I would suggest trying both.
 

halskinner

Banned
May 7, 2008
2,689
0
Distraction forces

I understand the mirror drill.
She does pitch with a straight arm. She is very flexibile and when in the game speed mode her arm actually hyperextends.
Arm you saying she should have her arm slightly bent when she pitches?
Another cause of this problem is a distraction force in the arm circle.

Assuming RH pitcher here. There is a pulling force created when the throwing arm spins around. It acts like the propeller on an airplane but the force is obviously not that strong.

However, that distraction force pulling to the throwing side is, in most cases, enough to cause the pitcher to step to the right of the powerline. It is enough to pull her stride foot off course from a straight forward stride. It is especially noticeable in very slender girls, takes less force pulling sideways to move less weight.

One of the things they will try and do to correct this and keep the arm circle going straight towards the target is that they will lean to the glove side to counter that distraction force. This can result in very hard hits on the hip even if the hips are opening correctly. The whole body gets pulled to the right and she leans to the left at the hips to try and maintain balance and a straight course towards the target for good accuracy.

Do that straight line mirror drill and with full motion and no softball (socks).

Watch and see if the hoola hoop arm circle has a bend in it.

There are three forces of energy at work in EVERY pitcher's motions;

1. The force used to drive forward.

2. Distraction forces pulling the body to the throwing side. (This is evident in EVERY pitcher's motions, to one extent or another).

3. Forces that are created (whether the pitcher is aware of them or not) to counter-balance those distraction forces.

Now, the less force used in driving forward, the more the distraction force will have an effect and pull the pitcher off course.

The more force used in driving forward, the less that distraction force will have it's effect on the arm circle, it's speed and accuracy.

IF the force used to drive forward is strong enough, the distraction force will have no effect.

The next questions I have are these;

Is your daughter real slender?

When she hyperextends that shoulder at the top of the circle, it drops her glove side shoulder and raises her throwing shoulder higher. What that will have a tendency to do is make her bend at the waist to the glove side and that makes you shove your hip out into the path of the arm circle.

Any of this sound like whats going on with her?

And yes, she should have a slight bend in the elbow through the entire arm circle.

Hal

Winning Fast Pitch Softball
 
May 26, 2008
8
0
Vancouver, WA
Scpalazzo, there are several reasons why a girl will bang her harm and the hips not being open enough has been covered. I doubt that they are closing early and before the arm passes unless she is bowling the ball. If the elbow goes to the back on the way down in the back the whole body will close early placing the hips in the way.

I am guessing of course that she is not getting open enough from the presentation. This is taking for granted that she has a good whipping action of the arm.

There is another uniqueness to the way the female arm is built. If you put the arms with the palm up and extended in front of you, you will see the arm bend inward at the elbow. The same as they have a tendency to be knock-kneed. If the arm doesn’t have enough room to clear the hips there will be a problem. Keep in mind, that if the arm gets too far from the vertical centerline, it is in a very week position and will have poor arm action.

Another reason for a girl to all of a sudden start banging her hip is when they start throwing the rise. When learning, the arm has a tendency to be bent to exaggerate getting under the ball with the hand. If there is any other reason for the arm bends, like muscling the ball at release, it will bang the hip.

I have no problem with a bent arm going around in the circle as long as it gets long at the release. I do have a problem with the arm locked up and long going around in the circle. Not necessarily because it will damage the arm but because it diminishes the otherwise quickness the arm travels in the circle. The bigger stronger muscles overpower the flexors and slow every thing down. It hinders the flexibility which effects the whipping action of the arm.

In summation, get the hips out of the way, and make sure the arm is long at release.

Click here and get some great free drills. Enjoy
 
Aug 21, 2008
869
28
Question... at what direction is her front foot (toes) pointing at the release? If her toes are pointed forward (as is commonly taught) then the body will be square to the catcher and she's likely to BANG her hip. If her toes are angled, the hips will also be angled and her arm will have a clear path to pass through. So, make sure her front foot is landing at an angle and the hips SHOULD remain open.

1. Have her try to rub her forearm against her bellybutton. If she can do this, then her arm is clearing the hips fine. If she cannot, then she closed too soon. But if the arm can touch stomach, then she should be ok.

2. Look at a device called The Perfect Circle. <theperfectcircle.com> I buy them and will destroy the packaging and CD Rom because I think it's very disingenuous of the inventor/owner. On the cover and CD Rom, it advertises that this 'aide' will help with various pitches and it shows a girl who has the Perfect Circle flap on her side. The inventor tries telling people that the girl should feel the "flag" on different parts of her hand for the various pitches, which immediately tells me that this man has never thrown a ball in his life! Not only does the pitcher not feel the flag on her hand but she cannot even tell if she hit it. Moreover, it does NOT go on the side of the body, instead it should go on the front of the thigh.. pointing toward the catcher. She should throw socks/nerf ball into a mirror with this on. If she misses the flag, she will IMMEDIATLY see it in the mirror and know she must stay open longer. If she hits the flag on the center of her thigh, then she will know she did it right.
 

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