K. Covarrubias1, M. Pohl1, B. Jones2, A. Brady2

1University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA; 2Driveline Baseball, Kent, WA

Higher pitch velocities (PV) in baseball often coincide with a greater risk of elbow and shoulder injuries due to the link of elbow varus torque (EVT) and shoulder internal rotation torque (SIRT) with injury. Exploring alternative parameters that impact PV may help limit these injuries. While peak torso and pelvis rotational velocities (RV) have been previously associated with PV, these parameters do not account for the mass of the athlete. It is possible that segment rotational kinetic energies (RKE), which do include mass, may have a stronger association with PV. PURPOSE: To determine if peak torso and pelvis RKE are associated with PV and how peak torso and pelvis RKE compare to other traditional variables associated with PV. METHODS: Male baseball pitchers at the youth, high school, college, or professional level (n = 7824) were fitted with reflective markers and performed a pitching assessment at maximal effort. PV was measured with a radar gun, while motion capture cameras tracked the reflective marker positions. Torso, pelvis, shoulder, and elbow biomechanical parameters were subsequently calculated and the strength of their association with PV was assessed using statistical software. RESULTS: There were strong significant associations between EVT and PV (R2 = 0.75, p < 0.001), SIRT and PV (R2 = 0.75, p < 0.001), and peak torso RKE and PV (R2 = 0.65, p < 0.001). There was also a significant association between peak pelvis RKE and PV (R2 = 0.29, p < 0.001). Peak torso and pelvis RV had little to no association with PV (R2 = 0.13, p < 0.001 and R2 = 0.00, p < 0.001, respectively). CONCLUSION: PV was most strongly associated with EVT and SIRT, likely because high velocity throws place enormous stress on the upper extremity. PV was more strongly associated with peak segment RKE than with peak segment RV, likely because RKE values account for the mass of the athlete while RV values do not. PV was more strongly associated with torso parameters than with pelvis parameters, likely because the torso accounts for a large proportion of the athlete’s total body mass. Given the findings of this study, future research is warranted to investigate whether athletes can be trained to increase PV via increases in peak torso and pelvis RKE rather than other traditional variables previously linked with injury.

Supported by McCormick Student Research Grant. Davenport

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