View Full Version : Re: Baseball pitching vs. tennis serving

12-24-2007, 04:34 AM

I believe a comparison between the baseball pitch and tennis serve is not
100% possible. The same kinetic change is involved for the basic body
movements, with differences in speed and amount of joint action, etc., but
the arm actions can be very different.

For example, in the tennis serve, the arm is extended overhead and is fully
straightened when contact is made. In baseball pitching, we do not see the
same position. The ball is usually released with a bent elbow or with an
extended arm more to the side of the body rather than overhead.

The tennis serve is more limited in regard to wrist and forearm actions,
usually flexion and pronation, while in the baseball pitch, we see these two
actions in the fastball. But when throwing other kinds of pitches, there
may be ulna flexion or variance of wrist flexion (and in some pitchers,

Thus, to determine which actions cause shoulder injury, it is necessary to
study more closely the exact position and wrist and forearm actions that
occur. For example, I have found that most shoulder injuries in the tennis
serve occur when contact is made with a bent elbow. While in the baseball
pitch, most shoulder/elbow injuries seem to occur when slinging the ball
more out to the side rather than overhead.

Michael Yessis, Ph.D
Professor Emeritus, CSUF
President, Sports Training, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: * Biomechanics and Movement Science listserver
[mailto:BIOMCH-L@NIC.SURFNET.NL] On Behalf Of Glenn Fleisig
Sent: Saturday, December 22, 2007 9:27 PM
Subject: Re: [BIOMCH-L] Baseball pitching vs. tennis serving


I am out of the office on vacation, so I am doing this from memory. My
colleagues and I have compared the biomechanics of the tennis serve to the
baseball pitch. Here are the citations:

Elliott B, Fleisig, R, Nicholls R, Escamilla R. Technique effects on upper
limb loading in the tennis serve. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports
6(1):76-87, 2003

Fleisig GS, Nicholls RL, Elliott BC, Escamilla RF. Kinematics used by world
class tennis players to produce high-velocity serves. Sports Biomechanics
2(1):17-30, 2003

As I recall, the tennis serve has greater ball velocity, but less shoulder
rotational velocity and torque. I believe that the less velocity was due to
the substantial extra inertia in the distal segment of the kinetic chain.
In other words, the tennis racquet is, in a sense, an extension of the hand.
The tennis player has far more inertia than the baseball player does in
resisting wrist flexion, but the increased distance of the segment produces
greater linear velocity (of the tennis racquet head, compared to the
pitcher's finger tips).

That's the best I can do for now. Happy Holidays,

- Glenn

Glenn S. Fleisig, Ph.D., Smith & Nephew Chair of Research American Sports
Medicine Institute
833 St. Vincent's Drive, Suite 100
Birmingham, AL 35205
(205) 918-2139

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Hinrichs [mailto:hinrichs@ASU.EDU]
Sent: Fri 12/21/2007 7:20 PM
Subject: [BIOMCH-L] Baseball pitching vs. tennis serving

I am posting a question for a friend that is not a subscriber. If you send
your answers to me I will forward them to him and ask him to summarize all
the answers for me and I will the post the summary back to this list.

Here is his question:

He has noticed that the frequency of shoulder injuries among elite tennis
players is way less than that of his elite pitchers, even though they all
have the same kinematic sequence (serving and pitching are virtually the
same) and their practice number of serves equals that of the pitchers' pitch
counts. He feels that this may be due to the simple fact that the tennis
player does not let go of the racquet and the pitcher lets go of the ball.
Does this explain the differences in stress to the arm or is there another
main reason for the differences in injury rates?

Thanks for your help.



Richard N. Hinrichs, Ph.D.
Dept. of Kinesiology
Arizona State University
P.O. Box 870404
Tempe, AZ 85287-0404
(1) 480-965-1624 (office)
(1) 480-965-8108 (fax)
hinrichs@asu.edu (email)
www.public.asu.edu/~hinrichs (web)