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Sports Biomech. 2016 Jun;15(2):128-38. doi: 10.1080/14763141.2016.1159319. Epub 2016 Apr 25.

Differences among fastball, curveball, and change-up pitching biomechanics across various levels of baseball.

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  • 1a American Sports Medicine Institute , Birmingham , AL , USA.


Controversy continues whether curveballs are stressful for young baseball pitchers. Furthermore, it is unproven whether professional baseball pitchers have fewer kinematic differences between fastballs and off-speed pitches than lower level pitchers. Kinematic and kinetic data were measured for 111 healthy baseball pitchers (26 youth, 21 high school, 20 collegiate, 26 minor league, and 18 major league level) throwing fastballs, curveballs, and change-ups in an indoor biomechanics laboratory with a high-speed, automated digitising system. Differences between pitch types and between competition levels were analysed with repeated measures ANOVA. Shoulder and elbow kinetics were greater in fastballs than in change-ups, while curveball kinetics were not different from the other two types of pitches. Kinematic angles at the instant of ball release varied between pitch types, while kinematic angles at the instant of lead foot contact varied between competition levels. There were no significant interactions between pitch type and competition level, meaning that kinetic and kinematic differences between pitch types did not vary by competition level. Like previous investigations, this study did not support the theory that curveballs are relatively more stressful for young pitchers. Although pitchers desire consistent kinematics, there were differences between pitch types, independent of competition level.


Throwing; breaking pitch; changeup; elbow; shoulder

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