Research: Combined Countermovement Jump Testing and Motion Analysis as the Future of Performance Assessment for Baseball Pitchers: A Narrative Review

Sakurai, M., Szymanski, D. J., Qiao, M., & Crotin, R. L. (2023). Combined CountermovementJump Testing and Motion Analysis as the Future of Performance Assessment for BaseballPitchers: A Narrative Review. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 37(6), 1327–1338.


Whole body kinematics and kinetics should be at the forefront of every athletic movement assessment for any sport. This article specifically discusses how whole-body kinematics and kinetics influence pitching performance in baseball. It emphasizes that effective coordination of transferring momentum is critical to minimize throwing-related injuries. The review highlights the connection between overhead throwing velocity and lower-body power, which has been measured through jump tests. The key insight from this research is that high performance in baseball pitching is multifactorial, requiring attention to both strength and skill coaching.

One of the main points of the article is the importance of efficient kinetic chain transfers, starting from ground reaction force (GRF) to reduce stress on the throwing arm. The kinetic chain describes the sequential transfer of forces across different body segments, leading to the maximum velocity of the terminal segment (the throwing hand) before ball release. The article also discusses the mechanics of the trunk and pelvis in pitching, noting that energy flow into the arm from the trunk strongly correlates with throwing velocity. In addition, The timing of the onset of trunk rotation also plays a significant role in both performance enhancement and injury prevention. Early onset of pelvis rotation and a significant separation angle at stride foot contact are crucial for high-performance pitching. Professional pitchers often exhibit a greater separation angle when the front foot lands compared to high school pitchers, which is important for achieving high throwing velocities.

The review also touches on the mixed results regarding the effect of trunk angle during pitching on throwing velocity and injury risk. Increased trunk lean towards the glove arm is associated with higher velocity and greater force loading on the throwing arm joints. However, this also comes with certain risks, such as increased elbow varus torque, particularly with overhand pitchers who have greater trunk tilt angles. In conclusion, the article advocates for the integration of lower-body power testing and biomechanical analysis in pitching performance assessment, emphasizing the importance of collaboration among strength and conditioning professionals, clinicians, pitching coaches, and biomechanics experts.

One of the first things we test on our professional athletes are their force plate numbers. The two main things we test is how well they put force into the ground, and how well they apply force off of the ground. Through these tests, we are able to see if an athlete may be at risk of injury just based on how well they use their lower body for power. We know that if our athlete lacks in their force plate numbers, somewhere in their body (elbow) is working harder to compensate for their lack of force production. This is what can lead to potential (elbow) injuries and is probably one of the main reasons why a large number of pitchers have these types of injuries.


How has this information expanded your understanding of throwing biomechanics and throwing related injuries?

Published by Andrew Martin