Biomechanics of pitching with emphasis upon shoulder kinematics

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1993 Aug;18(2):402-8. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1993.18.2.402.


The American Sports Medicine Institute conducts research to increase understanding of mechanisms involved in upper extremity injuries to throwing athletes. This paper presents a qualitative overview of pitching and a detailed quantitative description of arm motion about the shoulder during this highly dynamic activity. Data on kinematics of arm motions about the shoulder are presented for 29 elite throwers. The major motion about the shoulder is external/internal rotation. Scapulothoracic and glenohumeral flexibility permit the arm to reach an externally rotated position of 175 degrees. Approximately 30 msec before release, the arm internally rotates 80 degrees, reaching peak angular velocities near 7,000 degrees/sec. In rehabilitation of injured throwers, there is a need to appreciate the highly dynamic nature of this skill and to attempt to simulate these dynamic motions and loads as part of the final phase of treatment before the athlete returns to competition.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Baseball / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology*