The Windmill Pitch: Fastpitch Softball. More proof that arm swing and opposite leg swing are powerfully coordinated and neurologically paired.

Step length and power can affect opposite arm power and speed.

You have heard us talk often about opposite arm and leg swing pairing and how important they are from a neurological coordination issue. We have also talked about energy conservation and transmission in prior blog posts when it comes to arm swing. Good arm swing will lead to energy conservation.  A reduction in arm swing leads to a poor gait economy.  Check out this study here and the statistics. 

Collins et al Proc Biol Sci, 2009, Oct 22 “Dynamic arm swinging in human walking.”

“normal arm swinging requires minimal shoulder torque, while volitionally holding the arms still requires 12 % more metabolic energy.  Among measures of gait mechanics, vertical ground reactive moments are most affected by arm swinging and increased by 63% without arm swing.”

* type in “arm swing” into our blog SEARCH box and you will see 14 articles we have written on arm swing in human locomotion.

Gait is in every sport, just about.  Here we see a beautiful depiction of the opposite arm and leg pairing neuro-biomechanically, albeit not gait here it is still in her movement.  The larger a first step , whether the pitcher is a overhead hardball thrower or underarm fastball pitcher, the concept remains preserved.  I was a pitcher for over 10 years in the Ontario Fastball league back in Canada when I was a youth and teenager.  I was not a big speed pitcher, but what I had troubles coming up with in speed I was able to make up in putting “junk” on the ball.  My first step was large, and the larger the left step length (as seen in this video here), the more pelvic obliquity that could be achieved, which in turn enabled an opposite “anti-phase” rotation of the shoulder girdle.  When you add increased shoulder girdle obliquity with full arm rotation speed losses can be contained and limited.  Hypothetically, ball speed in a smaller player with a large first step can be heightened to the point of a that of a larger stronger pitcher with a smaller step.

Here you can see a great demonstration of this large step length the video.  They are using the tilt board to facilitate a faster downward plantarflexion of the right foot to drive a larger faster left step. It is the same principle as if you stepped off a curb or into a hole unexpectedly, the body’s natural reaction is to step out quickly with the other limb to catch the body’s forward fall. The board is used to achieve the same result with control. This is why you will see pitchers dig out a trench immediately in front of the pitchers rubber, to create this same plantarflexion drop of the right foot (in this case, the right foot for a right handed pitcher).  The deeper the trench, the more aggressive that left step.

Shawn and Ivo………..digging deep trenches today…….. and finding gait theory everywhere, even in fastball.