We all know recruiting is essential to college programs. BUT we aren’t talking about the intangibles of a player (personality, demeanor, hustle, if they’re a good teammate etc) and we’re not talking about academics (GPA, SAT, ACT scores etc).
Yes, all of these elements play a HUGE role in selecting a player for your team, but that’s not what we’re talking about…
We’re talking about pure skills/abilities of a player.
Each position requires a specific set of skills that coaches will assess, evaluate and compare…
And your special set of skills include…..THROWING!
The position you play requires a specific type of throwing pattern to complete a task. The task being either to throw a runner out OR to prevent a runner from advancing.
When you see an athlete throw, you may have a few initial thoughts…
- Cannon for an arm!
- Eh, decent arm, will get the job done, needs work.
- Wow, that looks really awkward & funky?!?!?
Then, you’ll compare their velocity to the image you have in your head of them throwing and understand why their velocity is what it is.
I recommend getting video of your recruits. This way you can watch their throwing patterns over and over again to see what changes (if any) need to be made.
But how do you actually assess a player’s throwing patterns when recruiting?
1. Arm Pathway & Shape
Arm pathway is how the arm initiates movement to get into and through shoulder external rotation before ball release. It will differ based on position and situation of play.
The shape refers to the angle between the Humerus and Forearm at lead foot contact AND as the Trunk accelerates towards the target. Looking to see an angle of 90-100º or less.
An angle greater than 90-100º may cause excessive “arm drag” and potential for more valgus stress at the elbow joint. An angle of 90-100º or less, will allow the elbow to get into and through external rotation more efficiently, with less potential valgus stress at the elbow joint.
Initial Arm Movement
Watch the pathway the arm takes into External Rotation..
The elbow works back (scap retraction) in the sagittal plane, palm facing down and the rear hip/glute is being loaded. The lead arm is clearing out of the way to allow for T-Spine Extension and Trunk Rotation to occur.
Initial Lead Foot
At initial lead foot contact, the forearm starts to transition from vertical to 45º and is working into External Rotation. The Humeral-Forearm angle is working to less than 90º and scap loading (retracting) at the same time).
Hip to Trunk Relationship
When an athlete has a very strong arm, you can tell right away as it stands out from the rest of the athletes. You can assume they’re using their body to the best of their ability and most likely has an efficient Hip to Trunk Relationship movement.
This means that as the stride occurs (pelvis opening) the trunk is turning back or maintaining contraction against the pelvis’ counter movement. This creates resistance, separation or disconnect between the two structures.
Initial Trunk Rotation
As full lead foot contact occurs, the Trunk will aggressively rotate forward towards the target. The forearm will be vertical and the Humeral-Forearm angle will be less than 90º to allow efficient movement into and THROUGH external rotation.
Sequence – Arm Timing Synced w/ Stride
The sequence, which ultimately leads to velocity, can implode if the arm pathway is not synced up with the stride.
The most common sequence destroyer is when the arm starts its pathway movement too soon, before the stride even occurs.
This means the arm is up ready to throw before the stride occurs, minimizing the ability to create resistance between the Hips & Trunk.
In the clip below, the arm stays down longer, allowing the stride to occur. As the lead leg starts to externally rotate to land, this is when the arm should start it’s pathway back!
Lead Leg Activity
The Lead leg will stabilize the body, allowing the trunk to aggressively rotate forward in order to transfer the energy created from the linear stride.
The knee will land slightly flexed at contact and as the trunk rotates, the arm will move forward to ball release. The knee will then violently extend, basically decelerating the body from that linear stride movement to allow the transfer of energy to occur.
Lead Knee Stability as Arm Moves THROUGH ER
Lead Knee Stability/Extension as Trunk Accelerates Forward
This was a low intensity throw, meaning the lead knee did not fully extend aggressively at the time of ball release. This will change based on the intensity of the throw. A max effort throw will show lead knee extension in a more aggressive manner.
The arm will be straight (elbow pronating though ball release) in-line with the trunk and back leg, creating a really nice line of force in this athlete’s throw. Again, the lead leg is still acting as a stabilizer.
Need more? Learn all about High Level Throwing® in our training series manuals! Check out the High Level Throwing E-Books!