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Mechanical efficiency in baseball pitching

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  • Mechanical efficiency in baseball pitching

    Hello, fellow biomechanists. We are currently investigating new ways to
    measure efficiency in baseball pitching. Our basic idea is to
    quantitatively determine maximal ball velocity with minimal stress
    (force and torque) on the elbow and shoulder. For instance, a pitcher
    who throws 90 miles per hour (mph) and has 100 N of force at the
    shoulder is clearly better than a pitcher who throws 90 mph and has 200
    N of force. However, it is rarely that cut and dried. It is more often
    the case that there are two people such that one throws 90 mph and
    exhibits 100 N at the shoulder and 70 N at the elbow while another
    throws 80 mph and exhibits 75 N and 60 N at the elbow. The risk/reward
    struggle between injury and performance makes it hard to decide how much
    force/torque is too much. Moreover, we are not looking just to compare
    two people but rather to establish a database of the most efficient and
    the least efficient pitchers. We potentially have a large number of
    subjects, we just need some help in figuring out how to classify them.
    As a corollary to this optimization method, we were thinking of
    establishing a metric such as:

    Efficiency Metric = A*Ball Velocity - B*Shoulder Force - C*Shoulder
    Torque - D*Elbow Force - E*Elbow Torque

    The above equation is just an example, as we may have more than four
    kinetic values. While this equation would be fantastic, especially
    since it is linear, we realize the difficulty in assessing the metric
    and the coefficients, as well as the potential for non-linearity. What
    should the form of the equation be? How do we use the data we currently
    have (ball velocity kinetic values) to determine values for the
    coefficients A,B,C,D, and E? We have determined that body weight and
    other anthropometric values may be confounding factors, so we also need
    to know how to control for that since we have a wide range of ages and
    abilities (10 to 40 years old, youth to professional) in our pool. Do
    we also need to factor in tissue strength of ligaments, and is specific
    data available that correlates tissue strength to body weight, height,
    and other anthropometric measures? At these initial stages, we don't
    want to overcomplicate things, but we do want a fairly accurate way to
    measure who is getting the most out of their body. We would appreciate
    any suggestions from all areas of biomechanics, kinesiology, and other
    related disciplines. Perhaps those involved in gait analysis who
    measure running economy may be able to provide some substantive

    Dave Fortenbaugh, M.S.


    American Sports Medicine Institute

    833 St. Vincent's Drive Suite 100

    Birmingham, AL 35205

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