Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby hawg1 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:20 pm

Hawg1,
I am a pro, though I'm not an ABS pro... that's not to say that I have all the answers, but I do enjoy looking for them. It's cool to have these 'non golf' athletic conversations with people who have experience in the different fields, so it's great to hear your thoughts. I'd love to hear more about the extra pop or heavy pitches that came your way- you mentioned it in another thread somewhere. Do you have any thoughts on why some pitchers may have been able to do that even though the numbers didn't suggest it? Did anything stand out to you that wasn't in the 'numbers'?
Cheers,
BOM


Let's see.
Perhaps the best place to start is intent. When a baseball pitcher seperates himself / herself from the pack, one the key moments is learning how to stick the bird finger in the catcher's eye (at least that's the version sanitized for polite company).

For 99 per cent of all ball throwers, the last point of contact between the body and the ball is the junction of the fingernail and skin on the bird finger of the throwing hand. That pressure point is the equivalent of P3 in golf, the first joint of the index finger.

Anyone can learn to throw a ball well enough. Getting it to your teamate, somewhere around their chest area, does the job 99 per cent of the time.

But if you want to max out precision, you have to change your intent (sound familiar?).

A pitcher has the intent of poking the target with his/her bird finger. Very often, this target is the catcher's eye. So, quite literally, the pitcher is trying to poke the catcher in the eye. Obviously impossible, given the 60 foot gap between them.

While other dynamics are involved, the "intent" of trying to poke the catcher's eye more or less forces the pitcher's hand into the proper motion to efficiently harvest the energy of leg drive, torso and shoulder turn, and put maximum lag pressure on the throwing elbow (again, sound familiar?)

Another parallel between golf and baseball is the optical illusion effect; in golf, few of us ever "see" the golf swing plane properly, 'cause, as Tyrone so correctly commented, "it was a funny angle". This is a part of golf that continues to flumoxe me, but knowing it's there has made a world of difference.

In baseball, we have the two seam fastball. Some folks say these balls rise. No, they SWEAR the ball rises. And I have to admit, if you are catching a dude who throws a really good one, it REALLY does appear to rise. But it doesn't. It just doesn't fall as fast.

It's no different than one of my PW shots vs. a PW shot from a good shooter, the backspin rate is way higher. The Ken Venturi affect in all its glory.

Another element is release point. Only the best of the best ever bring it "straight over the top". Everyone else drops to 3/4. And, lo and behold, the motion that ABS supports and the pitching arm of a person throwing 3/4 are WAY more similar than they are different.

Note that for outfielders, none of that mattered: If you didn't come 100 per cent over the top, you could never throw the ball well enough to field your position properly.

And for a nod to our international readers, the last paragraph more or less describes the difference between a baseball pitcher and a cricket bowler: A dominant bowler might not be able to throw strikes, but whoo-ee, I bet not even Ricky Henderson would ever try to stretch a double into a single if they were in right field.

Oops, almost forgot the key piece: the position of the non-pitching hand. Anyone who threw a heavy ball invariably had it tucked right up tight to the pectoral muscle on the non throwing arm.

Anyway, I toss this out there not to bore you with baseball (a sport which a former boss once described as "a non addictive substitute for sleeping pills") but rather to show how the elements I've discovered in ABS can be found in other sports, and thus have achieved marked credibility in my books. Not that Lag needs the props, he already knows what he knows.

And also to provide a toothing stone, as it were, for other athletes who, like me, did well at, if not mastered, other sports, but struggled at golf.

BTW, the baseball throw metaphore in 5 Lessons never really gelled for me. I've seen litterally millions of throws from 6-3, and not sure one ever looked (or more importanlty, felt) like that. I suspect if Grantland Rice had ghosted the book, they would picked a different way to say it... .

And all that to say, well, that concept of accellerating past the ball held water in baseball, and there is no reason to think any different in golf.

Again, thanks for reading.
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby eagle » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:10 am

hawg1,
Nice one. Enjoyed it.
Oops, almost forgot the key piece: the position of the non-pitching hand. Anyone who threw a heavy ball invariably had it tucked right up tight to the pectoral muscle on the non throwing arm.

This has interested me since I watched a video, made for kids, a decade ago on pitching mechanics. What do you think is the importance of this? Is it to get as much mass as close too the center of rotation as possible, and somewhat opposite the throwing arm?

I look forward to your lightbulbs related to pitching when you hit Module 2.
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby BomGolf222 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:18 am

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing, Hawg1. The application of pressure all the way to the end makes so much sense- great stuff. Going all the way out to the end of the longest finger is kind of like a full foot stride in running or jumping that utilizes the full length of the foot all the way to the end of the big toe. And it's all there in golf too. Man, I love this kind of stuff.
I also have the same question as Eagle. I can see in golf how key the left shoulder area is during acceleration(for righties) but the tucked glove has always intrigued me as to the why of it. I was watching Curt Schilling do an analysis of Stephen Strasburg's action on ESPN(post injury- such a sad story btw... fingers crossed for that!) and he was talking about how he could improve his mechanics by getting the glove tucked in tighter. I suppose I can see the tighter radius idea in there somewhere, but it seems like there's more to it.
Cheers,
BOM
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby hawg1 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:17 am

he was talking about how he could improve his mechanics by getting the glove tucked in tighter.


Hi,
The tucked in glove helps with rotation, but not in a way that is immediately obvious.

For this discussion, we will limit the topic to the pitcher, but it's the same for all other positions, but not as critical.

The throw can be roughly divided into a windup phase and a delivery phase. During the windup phase, the pitcher wants his non-throwing arm to be as far from his body as possible. I have that classic picture of Sandy Koufax in mind, arms out like an iron cross, support leg bent, balance leg just off the ground, beginning his leg kick... .

When the arm is extended like this, and the body rotates, it puts maximum load on the muscles required to move it. As the body changes direction of rotation, pulling the arm back in recaptures that energy, and dumps it into rotational speed.

I've done a couple of reps of throwing motion just now, and the best description that pops to mind is (I'm throwing RH) is I start by reaching my left hand at the catcher's mitt, grabbing in, then pulling it under my armpit. Simultaneously my core rotates, and I throw the ball at target.

You will throw A LOT harder this way, actively pumping the non-throwing vs. leaving the arm just tucked up tight.or worse, dangling down by your waist somewhere. In physics terms, you are dynamically changing your polar moment of inertia, and that is a really efficient way to accelerate rotary motion.

Hope that helps,
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby TeddyIrons » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:56 am

When I hit a forehand in tennis I make a similar move. I point my left hand and arm outstretched toward the oncoming ball. I've always done this move to help me get into position but following this thread I now realize that it also ensures a more powerful turn through the ball.
You must work very hard to become a natural golfer ~~ Gary Player
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby kafka01 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:42 am

What is the function of the throwing arm in baseball? Is it just for "energy transfer" into the hands and therefor more acting as a "whiplike" instrument or does it take an active role in energy creation?
From watching slow motion studies i would say the first one?
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby Range Rat » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:11 pm

Hawg1.....a belated welcome to ABS land. Enjoying your comments.

Have seen those "tucked and coiled arms" before but never gave it much thought. I can visualize your throwing description with great acuity. It seems like the lead arm pulling inward from the catchers mit is a CP property and effective in increasing core speed. For rotary pivot speed it may be the equivalent of instead of the body turning into the arm, the arm finds the body. Good stuff, thanks for sharing. :) RR
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby hawg1 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:27 pm

kafka,

The arm is actively involved in energy creation. You "can" throw a ball with the arm just acting as a whip, but it won't go very far, or very straight, either.

While the ideal motion for max power in a throw can be described as "trying to throw your arm off your body" one has to add the energy from the muscles in the arm itself to get there.

When throwing a fastball, the humerous is undergoing pronounced external rotation (using that amorphous area kown as the rotator cuff, wich isn't an acutal muscle itself, but rather a concept to describe the combined dynamic action of four distinct muscles), and the wrist flexors are working hard as well.

When throwing a curveball, all of the above is true, plus the action of the forarm's pronator muscles, plus the action of the big meaty muscle under your thumb. And the flexor muscles in your fingers.

And when donde correctly a baseball throw creates trememdous lag pressure on the throwing elbow. So much that many professional pitchers have a tendon from their non throwing arm removed, then wraped around radial-humeral joint in the throwing arm's elbow (the infamous Tommy John surgery) as a reenforcement.

Regards,
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby BomGolf222 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:22 am

Cheers Hawg1.... very interesting. It's like the push and pull of a punch or a good golf swing, or anything for that matter..
Thanks for the thorough analysis...
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Re: Cross pollination 'tween golf and baseball

Postby eagle » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:52 am

hawg1,

Got a quesstion about power and pitching. This also may apply to tennis serve as I noticed it a little watching the US Open, and also Bom's post on another thread showing Andy Roddick, talking about power.

How much power comes from the pitcher bending forward, or flexing, as he throws? This is in addition to his rotation of course.

In tennis, some of the servers have a rather marked bending backwards as they toss, then bend forward as they rotate using their lower bodies for power as Roddick pointed out.

Not much is said about this action in golf, because it is sort of camouflaged. However, I think all ABS'ers would agree with Roddick's lower body comments.
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