Consistent Hand Dynamics Are Achieved by Controlling Variabilities Among Joint Movements During Fastball Pitching

Front Sports Act Living. 2020 Nov 17:2:579377. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2020.579377. eCollection 2020.


This study aimed to determine whether covariations among joint movements are utilized to stabilize hand orientation and movement and to determine which of the upper or lower extremities make effective use of the covariation. Joint angles during pitching were measured in 12 skilled baseball pitchers, using a motion capture system. The joint angles in 10 successful trials were used for the reconstructed motions. The reconstructed motion in the first condition was the same as for the measured motion. In the second condition, the reconstructed motion was generated with joint angles that were pseudo-randomly selected to artificially break off covariation in the measured joint-angle combination. In the third and fourth conditions, the reconstructed motions were generated with the same joint-angle combinations as the measured angles in the throwing arm and the stride leg, respectively, but pseudo-randomly selected in the other joint angles. Ten reconstructed motions were generated for each condition. Standard deviations (SDs) of hand orientation and movement direction were calculated and compared among the conditions. All SDs for the first condition were the smallest among the conditions, indicating that the movements in the measured condition used the covariation in joint angles to make the hand movement stable. The results also illustrated that some SDs in the fourth condition were smaller than those in the third condition, suggesting that the lower extremity made effective use of the covariation. These results imply that it is necessary not only to reduce variability in each joint but also to regulate joint movements to stabilize hand orientation and movement.

Keywords: baseball; covariation; direct kinematics; movement variability; randomization; redundancy.