How to Build a More Powerful Delivery through a Stronger Core

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

Anterior core strength deeply affects lumbar extension, which in turn affects the position of the trunk/ thorax (rib cage), which is the “center of the universe” for a pitcher. This serves as a stable platform for the shoulder blades, ultimately affecting the position of the scapula, ensuring great “ball and socket” congruency and a better arm position at ball release when moving toward the plate.

Today we’re going to look at an example of a how postural issues developed through insufficient core control can cause issues higher up in the chain as the delivery unfolds.

When Charles DeMatteo, age 17, came to us in September last year he was already athletic, but looking to take it to the next level. These were his stats:

  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 190 lbs.
  • History:
    • Lower back pain (June 2017)
    • Anterior shoulder and medial elbow pain (2016-2017)
  • Velocity: 82-85 mph

During Charles’ initial assessment, we observed a huge anterior pelvic tilt along with excessive lumbar extension, and the bottom of the rib cage protruding anteriorly when trying to get his arms overhead.

This signified a weak anterior core and control. Along with this, he presented with tight lats and insufficient t-spine extension causing scapular depression and downward rotation and helping to attribute to much of what we will discuss today.

(Video – Pitching Analysis)

This is a great example of how strength and mobility issues can affect mechanics. Getting in the weight room to build some good anterior core strength and get in some extra mobility/activation to the lats and serratus should do the trick. Let me also say that there is no way to fix these issues during a pitching lesson. This would be, not only a waste of time and money, but could also leave the pitcher incredibly frustrated as well.

Get More Lat length and T-spine Extension – This exercise is great for turning down lat function getting some more length as well as working on t-spine mobility. This will help take some of the stress off the lower lumber while trying to “lay back”.

Strengthen Anterior Core and Improve Scapular Upward Rotation – This is a great exercise to, not only strengthen the anterior core but, work on breathing as well. Using a band to add resistance while reaching helps work on scapular upward rotation by strengthening the serratus, a great “bang-for-the-buck”.

Put it all Together in a “Functional” Pattern

Today, 4 months later, Charles has gotten his core and the rest of his body much stronger (he’s put on nearly 15 lbs. of muscle) and is sitting 86-88 mph (vs. 82-85 when he showed up in late fall)… and it’s only January.

For those of you out that aren’t sure how to tell if something anatomically is holding you back, don’t worry you’re not alone. My best advice is to get both a physical and a biomechanical assessment done by a qualified PT or strength coach. If you’re not sure what constitutes qualified, ask around. Word of mouth is huge.

See ya’ in the gym…

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