Not all mechanical cues are, or should be, created equal. Many times, size and mobility (anthropometrics) need to dictate how different positions of the delivery are cued.
While the arm cocking phase (going into lay-back) is similar in a number of respects to squatting prior to a jump, what many people don’t realize is that the throwing arm isn’t being actively loaded into ER by the muscles that produce ER. It is getting loaded by the inertial mass of the forearm being “whipped” back into the lay-back position during hip and shoulder separation due to the momentum being produced by the lead leg blocking during foot strike.
This makes better use of the “stretch-shortening cycle” and provides more energy to be released (potentiation) when the arm transitions forward into the acceleration phase. This also allows the arm to stay loose and the arm speed to happen naturally, not having to be “muscled” to create more velocity.
There are lots of athletes who are big, fast and strong enough to create lower-half power, as well as possess the core strength to load up their arm with the mechanics that precede the lay-back position. However, they lack the tendon (quality and/or size) that is needed to be able to reap the benefits of this added stretching of the upper half tendons called a “serape” during hip and shoulder separation.
This quality is found mostly in much taller (6’4”+) and more elastic pitchers who possess longer torsos and are able to take advantage of fully stretching these tendons.
The take home here is “different strokes for different folks”
While we may instruct a shorter more muscular pitcher who possesses a lot of stiffness to shorten up his stride and keep that lead leg internally rotated as long as possible to not open up early due to a shorter stretch ability, we may instruct our taller guys to do just the opposite. For these fellas, they may want to stride out a bit longer and open up that lead leg a bit earlier in order to make full use of the longer tendon length in the upper half.
See ya’ in the gym…
By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)