Using the front elbow to throw

My partner in crime Rich and I have been running a little experiment the past few weeks. When we attended the National Fastpitch Coaches College, the coaches there were advocating a throwing technique where you point the front elbow (instead of the glove), then pull it back hard, like you’re trying to elbow someone behind you.

That’s a different technique than we’ve taught in the past. But, being open-minded coaches we decided to give it a try. We’ve been teaching it both to our own players and to some girls in a clinic we work in on Saturday mornings.

After doing it for about three months, I have to say I’m sold. Every girl we’ve done it with has learned to throw harder, straighter and with better overall technique than they were before. And they’ve done it faster than with the point the glove technique.

If you haven’t tried it, it’s definitely worth looking into.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on March 2, 2009, in Throwing. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I have to say that I totally agree with you. Mike Candrea presented that technique in his mid-90’s video on throwing mechanics and I have been using it since and I must say it works a little better.The reason I think is that the players get more of the angular velocity (rotational speed) out of it just like figure skaters to get spin in their jumps or divers with their dives. Same biomechanics applies to different movements.Marc

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  2. One quick word of warning. The line of vision is usually different than where the elbow is pointing and you may need them to compensate by aiming the elbow farther to the left (right-handed thrower) than they think is needed. The true line needed is from shoulder to elbow to target, but you cannot see from your shoulder perspective unless you lean your head way back and you aren’t going to do that in reality. When you actually look at it, your eyes are a few inches in front of the shoulder so if you line up your eyes to elbow to target (like looking down the middle of the v your arm makes), the elbow is actually pointing too far to the right of the target. For catchers especially, this is bad and throws often sail wide right of the target. I learned this with my own daughter the hard way – I was befuddled until I realized she thought her elbow was pointing at 2nd when it wasn’t. It was actually pointing to about where the second baseman starts at her position.

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  3. BTW – I am a huge advocate of this technique as well – so I am not putting it down. Simply wanted to point out an issue I came across using this technique so you knew to watch out for it.

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  4. Marc,Interesting that it’s been around that long. I saw it a couple of years ago, but thought it was more of a gimmick or change for the sake of change. It wasn’t until I saw the pull back and elbow someone part of it that it made sense to me. At that point I got it. Mike,That’s good info, thanks. I didn’t really think about it in terms of sighting down the arm/elbow but I can definitely see where someone would. Especially a young player trying to find her throwing motion. For me, the elbow is sort of a soft focus — point it in the general direction of the target without worrying about being precise. But I can certainly see where it looks just like what you need to line up the throw. Appreciate you adding that clarification. I will watch for it. Ken

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  5. Ken: Do you havde any video of this technique you can either send me a link to or have ha posted on Youtube? I would love to see the mechanics odf what you’ve described….we run a winter clinic and Spring practice for the team will start shortly and we have quite a few girls who could use a different approach to throwing mechanics…thanks, Bruce

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  6. Here is a link (sorry for the commercial you need to watch) – he describes it and shows it well while describing, but then when he actually demos the entire throw does a very poor job of it – but the description is good:http://www.expertvillage.com/video/17569_baseball-throw.htmHere is a clip of a pitcher – they have been doing it forever. You’ll see he doesn’t point straight out with the glove and then drives it into the side of the gut (the frontal view shows it the best):http://www.pitchingclips.comYou can look at a number of the other pitching clips and the one common thing you’ll see with the glove hand is that they drive the elbow back. Burnett points his arm at the target but the bends the arm and drives the elbow back…others point only the elbow.OK, here is the best one I found – the slow-mo demo is OK, but when he actually throws it he does it very well – very good pointing with the elbow and then driving it down (again, sorry for the commercial):http://video.about.com/kidsclubs/How-to-Throw-a-Baseball.htmKen, hope you don’t mind I threw these in here, but I don’t want to go to bed yet.

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  7. I totally agree with you Ken. That is how I thought I was teaching it until I broke it down with my daughter. I guess it is good that she is listening to me, but I have to be careful that she takes things so literally. She started asking me what part of her arm she should look at to have her elbow pointing at the target and if she is allowed to mark her arm for games so she could site it up – no lie. I thought it was funny at first until I realized she was serious. I actually had to explain that she won’t have that sort of time, so we worked on how far to the left her elbow had to point (from the eye’s perspective) to make it actually be pointing at the target. That’s what I get for trying to make her understand techniques.

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  8. Sorry, last thing. Pointing the entire arm towards the target is OK for baseball pitchers and maybe outfielders (when done correctly), but I don’t advise it for infielders. Reason being that the player tends to rotate the shoulders more when pointing the arm. When warming up we have time to bring up the arm, straighten it out and point, then throw. In a game, the tendency is to bring up the arm, straighten it out, but it doesn’t stop to point at the target – it keeps moving (because we are rushing to throw) and rotating, and therefore, rotates the shoulders with it. A good over-hand throw is more of a swim motion than a rotation. Pointing the arm lends to side-arm throwing. That’s my take on it anyway.

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  9. I don’t mind at all, Mike. Thanks for putting it up there so quickly. Bruce, I don’t have any existing video that I can think of, but I’ll see if I can shoot some and post it. Mike is right about baseball pitchers doing it. That was the example they quoted at the NFCC too. For infielders, it’s probably quicker in addition to being more powerful.

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  10. Rick Cartwright

    My team is using this technique also, I am seeing a big improvement in throwing overall. The SS for Tenn is very good at this. Check out around 5:40 & 8:26

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  11. Thanks, Rick. Those are good clips. Glad to hear it’s working for you as well.

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  12. That Tenn clip was loaded with great examples. I like to focus on catchers and found some great ones – really liked the one at 3:21. Also loved the example at 5:32 for the throw from third to first, and then one more at 8:26 for the throw from second to first in the double play. Great examples in there.

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  13. Funny – I picked out one of the same ones you pointed out Rick – sorry about that.

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  14. Thanks to all for posting the videos…DD has a poor habit of throwing the dreaded “ground spike” when the mechanics are not proper (not moving the feet and pointing to the target….I’ll have her watch the viseo so she can see this….I’ll also try theis with my team.

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  15. Bruce, it’s definitely worth trying. Make sure she keeps the throwing arm elbow up too, all the way through release. Sometimes the ground spikes come from bending low or pulling the elbow down early.

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