What is the ideal throwing technique for a pitcher? This is the question being considered by TU Delft researchers in 3mE’s Biomechanical Engineering research group. “The request to research this came from the KNBSB, the Dutch baseball association,” explains bio-mechanical engineer Professor DirkJan Veeger. “They have received lots of reports of shoulder and elbow injuries among pitchers.” So, in 2013, TU Delft researchers and colleagues from other institutions such as VU University Amsterdam and a number of medical centres set up Project Fastball.
They used three cameras to film pitchers in action from different perspectives. They used the images they captured to determine along with Dutch and international baseball coaches the ten most important aspects of a pitch. One is a small knee bend just as the pitcher releases the ball. “It is difficult to see the difference between good technique and poor technique,” says Veeger. “We also discovered that the pelvis needs to come to a stop before the back. And your torso should be the last thing to pivot. But it’s really millisecond timing.”