Final Chapter – Putting it All Together

If you have read any or all of the chapters that preceded this one, I hope that you have learned a thing or two. You might have even gotten answers to questions you didn’t know you had. But the ultimate question is how do I use this kind of in-depth information in the real world with the athlete that I have in front of me?

Since the human body and pitching are both very complicated let’s look at just one part of the delivery and one part of the body to show how this information can be applied. The back leg and its role in initiating power and momentum

The Back Leg – How, When, and Where to Load It

Let’s look at how we can determine an optimal loading pattern with the back leg. There are plenty of options out there and no one-size-fits-all approach will work for everyone. Here we can see some different strategies when viewed from the side:

And again, some pretty distinct styles when viewed from behind:

All of these guys are good enough to be throwing off MLB mounds yet they are executing this critical phase of the delivery differently. So how do you know if you should have a horizontal or vertical shin? Should you be more like Tanaka on the left or Verlander on the right?

What about the angle between your back leg and your torso? Should you be leaning over like Paxton on the left or upright like Syndergaard on the right?

How fast should you load up that back leg? Should it be long and powerful like Tanner Rainey?

Or should it be fast, bouncy, and explosive like Jordan Hicks?

These are some big-time questions that I don’t think get discussed very often. But the fact that our back leg is our primary power source makes me think we should be taking the time to figure out the answers to these questions.

Vertical vs Horizontal Shin

To help us determine which camp we should be in (vertical or horizontal) to optimize our mechanics you would have to look at the radar graph that represents mobility.

Within this radar graph, you would look at how an athlete scored on their internal (IR) and external rotation (ER) of both their dominant (D) and non-dominant (ND) legs. I refer to the back leg as the dominant leg since it’s the same side as your dominant (aka throwing) arm. If an athlete has more mobility going into internal rotation compared to external, they are more likely to benefit from a horizontal shin angle as they make their way down the mound into foot strike.

Those with more ER will be more likely to succeed with a vertically oriented shin. Ben Brewster has written an amazing article where he goes into detail about these differences. I suggest you read it since this is where I got this concept. You could measure this yourself in a number of ways. Let’s look at internal rotation.  If you have an expert helping you then go ahead and get them to assess you like this:

If we know where you fall on the spectrum then we can help guide you as a pitcher toward a delivery that takes advantage of your body rather than working against it. However, if someone has really poor hip internal rotation, for example, it isn’t wise to just leave it and go with a vertical shin strategy. Pitchers do need to have “enough” hip internal rotation even if they are orientated more towards hip external rotation.

Loading Speed

What we are looking at here is the rate that the back leg loads and then unloads to create power toward home plate and up through our body. To illustrate these differences, we are going to look at two of the hardest throwers on the planet. They are at either end of this spectrum in regard to loading speed.

Now, they both happen quickly but even with the naked eye you can tell that Hicks waits, then drops before exploding towards home plate, while Tanner Rainey starts to bend at the knee a little earlier and continues to go down (eccentrically loading) at a more deliberate pace before ultimately exploding towards home plate. My theory is that in order to predict which end of the spectrum you should be leaning toward you can look at the scores on these particular tests.

We are looking at the reactive and vertical jump scores that fall under the “Speed” category along with the squat jump from the “Strength” category and how they relate to each other. Refer back to chapter 7 to gain a deeper understanding of these jump scores. The quick version is that if you can’t jump very high when you are asked to pause at the bottom (squat jump) for a second but you can fly when you get to drop in off a box (reactive jump) then you could be classified as a reactive or “springy” athlete. Here are the results of these three jumps laid out in a graph. This athlete would be classified as “springy” since their reactive jump (29″) is a lot higher than both their normal vertical (20″) and squat jump (14″).

This means that they store and release elastic energy in an efficient manner and would be better suited to use a faster loading strategy. The athlete in this situation would lean more heavily on elastic energy and less on muscular force. Assuming that they have the basic strength needed to capture the force going into the ground before “bouncing” back.

Next, we can see the profile of an athlete who has the same 20″ vertical jump but would be classified as a “muscle jumper” since there isn’t much difference between any of the jumps.

Now that you know what kind of jumper an athlete is the next question is how do you train them? Do you attack the athlete’s weakness or do you stress their strength? This is a hot debate in the sports science world. In my opinion, you have to take advantage of what they are good at. With that being said, you do need to reach minimum levels of both strength and elasticity in order to truly take advantage of these athletic gifts.

Torso Angle (aka Hinge)

Forward tilt with your torso at ball release has been associated with ball speed. But forward trunk tilt as you load into your back leg and start your delivery is less known. But if we steal a concept from the strength and conditioning world, we can make an educated guess.

The angle between your torso and the thigh of the back leg can help optimize the amount of force you can apply to the ground. It’s not guaranteed that the more force you put into the ground the faster you throw. There are a lot of important steps in between but you do have more POTENTIAL.

By comparing the ratio of the femur and torso length we can see if an athlete would be better suited to have a more horizontally or vertically orientated torso. If you have long femurs relative to your torso, a little bit of forward tilt might help you put some more force in the ground.

If you have a long torso and a relatively short femur, being more upright should maximize your ability to use your back leg.

Again, I am stealing this concept from the strength and conditioning world in regard to optimizing squat techniques based on the individual’s proportions.

Now, I know that you don’t have a heavy load on your shoulders in the form of a barbell when you pitch so the carryover from the weight room to the mound might not be exact. But if force production is what you are after then we should look towards the experts.

This is what Strength coaches do all day and for many, this is how they measure success. These proportions are obviously something that we aren’t changing. There are no exercises or stretches that will change these ratios. To me, that means that it is something that we have to acknowledge and work with since it represents the frame of this baseball-throwing machine that we are trying to build. We can add strength, speed, and mobility with a good plan and some hard work but we aren’t changing these ratios. To highlight this concept of building our mechanics to suit your body type I suggest you check out this research that looked at optimal sprint start mechanics.

Anthropometry-driven block setting improves starting block performance in sprinters (Cavedon et al. 2019)

What they did was compare the sprint start times (5 and 10 meters) with two different block setups. The first block setup was the athlete’s normal setup that they would have been taught or played around with on their own to see what was comfortable. The second was based on their anthropometrics.

The researchers found that a significant number of athletes were faster with what they called the “anthropometry-driven block settings” compared to their usual setup. This is crazy since these sprinters have obviously had thousands of reps with their usual setup.

Despite this, they were able to accelerate faster when the blocks were specifically placed based on their limb lengths. This represents the obvious power of tailoring mechanics to the athlete. Too often it is the other way around where the athlete is forced to adapt their body to fit the mechanical model that the coach wants to see. I would love to see more of this kind of research in the baseball world since, as I discussed at the start of this article, there are many different types of athletes on MLB mounds. And with different body types comes different mechanics that optimize these differences.


The goal here was to provide you with an example of how to use the information within the profile and radar graphs to help make educated decisions. Every athlete has two very valuable yet limited commodities: time and energy.

By taking the time to assess and then analyze each athlete we can help them make the most of their time and energy which ultimately is our job as coaches. I hope that you have found this information to be valuable. But I also hope that you have more questions as a result of reading this e-book.  Writing this has been a valuable exercise for me to learn as much as I can but I have more questions than when I started. So, while this is the conclusion of this book, I will be sure to continue to read and write about this subject.

The Quest for Knowledge is a life-long journey whose destination expands as you travel.” -Jim Stovall (The Ultimate Gift)

Thank you very much for taking the time and energy, your two most valuable commodities, to read this e-book and I look forward to sharing more in the future.

Again, if you are interested in using my assessment spreadsheet that gives you objective and quantifiable data about an individual pitcher so that you, as a coach, can make educated decisions about how to direct your time and energy, please reach out. 

Send me an e-mail at and I’ll send you a copy and an invoice for $40.


Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS


    • Graeme Lehman

      Thanks as always Lantz – I’ll be sending you an advanced copy of the e-book shortly since you helped me along in my creative process with your ideas and by giving me the chance to speak at Palooza!! Have fun this year and I hope to see and talk to you soon.

  1. Kelvin Chua

    Great work putting these together!

    I have been working on this specific topic of looking at differences between “springy” and “strength” athletes and this information couldn’t have come more in handy.

    In running and jumping, this classification between “springy” and “strength” athletes come as apparent to many coaches. Are these also common classification in the sport of baseball (or in fact, other rotational sports)?

    As far as I know, it is not common in the research literature to examine the kinematics and kinetics of the hind leg in the baseball throw, so I’m very glad that you covered this because it is the hind leg that does bulk of the work. I only came across Kageyama et al. (2014) thus far
    Do you mind sharing other research you might have come across that examines the hind leg?

    • Graeme Lehman

      Thanks for this really nice comment on my work. My apologies for taking forever to reply.
      The research paper you sent me looks interesting and I’ll be taking a deeper look at it for sure. If I see any good papers I will send them your way.
      Do you work mostly with baseball players?
      I don’t think the “springy” or “strong” categorization of baseball players is very common but the idea is starting to spread.
      Looking forward to continuing our conversation

      • Kelvin Chua

        Hi Graeme,

        No problem at all – I’m glad you found my comment helpful. I’m definitely interested in reading more about your research and seeing how it progresses.

        To answer your question, yes, I work with a small group of youth baseball players, but I also work with athletes in other sports as well. I find that many athletes, regardless of their sport, can benefit from training that focuses on improving their strength and explosiveness. The idea of categorizing athletes based on their “springiness” or “strength” may not be common yet, but I think it has a lot of potential and I’m glad to see it starting to gain more traction.

        Thanks for reaching out and I look forward to continuing our conversation as well.

        Best regards,

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