Fleisig, G. S., Excamilla, R. F., Andrews, J. R., Matsuo, T., Satterwhite, Y., Barrentine, S. W. (1996). Kinematic and kinetic comparison between baseball pitching and football passing. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 12(2), 207-224.

The throwing motions of 26 high school (N = 13) and college (N = 13) quarterbacks, and 26 high school (N = 13) and college (N = 13) pitchers were analyzed. Throwing motions were recorded using four synchronized, high-speed (200 Hz) infrared cameras and digitized to form a three-dimensional model. The digitized data were compared over several kinetic (forces and torques), kinematic (angles and velocities), and temporal (timing) parameters.

The study showed that rotational velocities of the arm and trunk were greater in the pitching motion than when throwing a football. Pitchers displayed greater elbow extension, shoulder internal rotation, and pelvis and upper torso angular velocities during arm acceleration. The quarterbacks' inability to generate higher rotational velocities likely is due to the greater mass of the football. To compensate for their slower arm rotation, quarterbacks begin rotating the shoulders sooner, and achieve maximum external rotation of the shoulder earlier in the movement. Another mechanical accommodation made for the heavier football was the greater elbow flexion and shoulder horizontal adduction used by the quarterback during arm cocking and ball release (the phenomenon known as "leading with the elbow".

While quarterbacks achieved greater shoulder external rotation at foot contact, pitchers achieved greater external rotation during arm cocking. Pitchers also achieved maximum pelvis, upper torso, elbow extension, and shoulder internal rotation velocities sooner than quarterbacks did. Quarterbacks usually took shorter strides early in the motion and stood more erect during the throw. That limits the contribution of the trunk and lower extremities to increase rotational velocities during the throwing motion.

Pitchers also displayed greater upper torso angular velocities during the arm deceleration phase, along with more trunk and knee flexion. This complete follow-through motion is critical for pitchers to slow down their rapidly moving arms. Even with this contribution from the trunk and lower extremities, pitchers displayed greater elbow and shoulder compressive forces than quarterbacks.

Implication. Throwing footballs does not replicate the range of movements, sequencing of movements, or postural characteristics of pitching a baseball. It would have little value for improving pitching velocity (it is slower) or control (the ball is held differently). Football throwing has the potential to disrupt pitching mechanics by replacing appropriate movement segments with inappropriate segments if done in sufficient volume along with the intent of throwing the football while imaging pitching. The disruption in movement patterns could lead to injuries because of incorrect use of the body's levers and overloading joints at inappropriate times.

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