Dropped Elbow & Throwing Mechanics March 14, 2015 16:21
Someone sent us this question/comment after reading our FAQ’s page. “I don’t see how The HeadCoach will stop you from dropping your elbow?” It’s a valid observation, so I thought I would address the varying situations concerning the dropped elbow.
Every night on the highlights you will see MLB players drop their elbow and toss the ball across the diamond, so do you really want to stop players from dropping the elbow at all? Well, we want to give players a sound foundation for proper throwing mechanics, and two things are universally agreed upon in regard to throwing correctly. First, the elbow should be at or above shoulder height, and second, the hand must be outside the elbow. If your player is a sidearm thrower, and their elbow drops because of this particular kind of delivery, hold tight! I’ll address that at the end of this reply.
If your player is dropping their elbow and forcing their hand in next to their head, I’m certain they are not reaching their maximum throwing potential, and consequently they are not very happy with their results. They are not throwing with maximum velocity, their hand is underneath the baseball or softball, so their accuracy is inconsistent at best, and they are forcing their hand into an unnatural path to release point, and force equals strain, which can potentially lead to injury. When a player develops this “aiming” or “pushing” throwing style, they are either not getting proper hip or shoulder rotation, or they are fighting against physics, and that is a losing battle.
The HeadCoach is so effective because it is self correcting, and unlike other arm braces or restrictive devices, the only thing it forces a player to do is make a choice. If they are hitting the VIA when they throw, they can either drop their elbow lower, which feels wrong and will cause their throwing problems to become even worse, or they can get their elbow up and their hand out to where it clears the VIA, and immediately they will feel the difference of throwing from the correct throwing angle. This is not about “slot”. Slot will vary for every person. But you cannot throw to your maximum potential with your arm folded, your elbow dropped, and your hand forced next to your ear.
Our VIAs are designed at different lengths and different angles in order to guide, not force the throwers hand into the correct throwing path. It takes practice and repetitions, doing it the correct way, to retrain that muscle memory, but if you start from one knee, concentrating on getting the hand path to clear the tip of the VIA, and not cheating it by going underneath, and by rotating the shoulders with the elbow up and the hand outside the VIA, your player will feel the difference.
Now, about the sidearmer. There are so many varying opinions about sidearm throwers, and this goes back to the topic of “slot”. Every player has their own unique throwing slot, and some players will naturally develop a sidearm delivery. There are coaches who try to break players of their sidearm throwing mechanics and others who gladly encourage sidearm throwing. This is not for us at HeadCoach to decide.
However, if you want to use The HeadCoach to alter the sidearm delivery, have your player do the opposite of the “pusher” or “aimer”. Start on a knee or at a shorter distance for catch play, and have your player try to hit the tip of the VIA with their hand when they throw. This will get them to be conscious of where their hand path is at release, and if their hand is higher, their elbow will be higher as well. Again, this is a matter of practice and repetition that when done correctly can help you get the results you desire. There is also a drill designed to train directional shoulder rotation as opposed to horizontal shoulder rotation, which helps modify the sidearm delivery.
Finally, people ask all the time if The HeadCoach will turn a player into a sidearm thrower, and our answer is no. No player will make the unnatural and dramatic leap from a “pusher” to a sidearm thrower if using The HeadCoach correctly. The HeadCoach is designed to maximize throwing potential. If you practice the correct way using The HeadCoach, you will throw better.