Charger Baseball Program Focuses on Avoiding Injury First, Then Developing Skills
Mike Marra, head baseball coach for the Georgia Highlands College Chargers, believes in taking care of his players. He has recently taken all the pitchers on the inaugural team to Birmingham for biomechanical pitching evaluations at the renowned American Sports Medicine Institute. The primary purpose is to prevent injury, but as an added benefit the analysis will also show weaknesses in a player’s pitching mechanics, allowing him to work on improving his throwing motion.
Once at ASMI, the athletes visit a lab where their range of motion is assessed. That process lets the analysts understand the limits of a player’s mechanics – metrics like how far his stride can reach or how far back his arm can swing before the forward motion begins and the ball is released. Then the pitcher is outfitted with nearly two dozen reflective markers, which are placed at key anatomical landmarks on his shoulders, torso, arms, legs, feet and head. As the pitcher throws the ball, his motion is recorded by eight high-speed, infrared cameras that pick up the reflective markers and transmit them to a computer with a software program designed by ASMI. The program then calculates the body angles, joint velocities and timing mechanisms (kinematics) of the movement as well as the joint forces and torques (kinetics).
The results of the biomechanical pitching evaluation are based upon the motion analysis data as well as ASMI's knowledge of biomechanics, baseball, orthopedics, physical therapy, and strength & conditioning. Researchers also study the data to determine shoulder and elbow comfort during the pitch.
The group has collected a database of mechanics from elite athletes – pitchers who throw at a velocity of 85 miles per hour or higher over an extended period of time and have avoided injury. ASMI has studied these pitchers’ stride length, pelvis rotation, lead knee flexion and shoulder extension rotation to evaluate how their movements keep them injury-free. They then compare the movements of the pitchers who come to be evaluated to see how their mechanics differ. Because they know how likely certain mechanics are to cause injury, they can provide information on how to change the pitch for greater safety and efficiency.
GHC pitchers being evaluated included Luke Patterson (Cartersville), Albert Harless (Dallas), Dillon Swaggerty (Woodstock), Tyler Elwer (Roswell), Mikhail Caenave (Etowah County, Ala.), CJ Gilreath, (Cherokee County, Ala.), Mitchell Mannino (Marietta), Nick Constan (Auburn, Ala.), Ed Lott (Kennesaw), Brent Kyzar (Leesburg), Jeremy Brown (Gwinnett County) and John Hood (Cartersville).
Check out the video.
Tyler Elwer of Roswell winds up.
Eight cameras capture Elwer's movements.