Daily Archives: February 29, 2008

Strength of the arms v. the legs

Last week my friend (and former assistant) John Parssinen sent a link to an article from the NY Times (I think) that explained an important consideration in both hitting and pitching. The article was about some advice that new Cub Kosuke Fukudome was giving to players in the Japanese industrial league as part of his farewell tour.

He was talking about how important it is to use the legs instead of the arms alone. He was talking about hitting, but it applies to pitching and throwing as well. Fukudome told them to imagine someone told them to stand on their hands. How long do they think their arms would support them? Then he said think about standing on your legs. You can do that all day, because they’re much stronger.

Hitters develop more power when they get their legs and torsos involved than when they just swing with their arms. I’ve never understood why anyone would think arm swinging is a good idea, but there are still plenty of fastpitch coaches who teach it.

It’s even worse for pitchers. It frustrates me to watch an otherwise good pitcher throw all arm. Some can throw hard for a little while, but they tend to tire easily. The arms are just not made to carry that kind of load. Pitchers’ arms need to be fast and loose, not tight and muscled up. That’s not to say they don’t need to be strong – they do — but the arm’s strength is needed to transfer power, not create it. That’s basic physiology. At best they can only add to power over the long term.

One last thing to keep in mind: Fukudome was talking to a group of men. Men’s upper bodies are far stronger than women’s. So if men need to use their legs to create power, it’s even more important for women.

Take a cue from Fukudome. Use the strongest parts of the body to create power and you’ll throw/hit harder and last longer. That’s the way Nature planned it.

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