Talking curveballs

We don’t have any in-house mechanics experts here at THT anymore (although you never know what Studes has up his sleeve), so don’t expect much in the way of hardcore analysis here. A recent New York Times article by Mark Hyman outlined a study by doctors from the American Sports Medicine Institute which reportedly found that curveballs are no more stressful on a kid’s arm than fastballs.

This goes completely against everything everybody knows, so it must be wrong (kidding). But there has been a lot of talk around the web since the article came out just three days ago. As soon as I read the article, I emailed Kyle Boddy of Driveline Mechanics fame to ask what he thought. He copied a response he posted elsewhere on the web, which can be found here. He says that less force applied to the arm doesn’t necessarily mean that the pitch is less dangerous.

Trip Somers, whose every word on deeply captivates me, had a more detailed take on the study in question. He goes into great detail about specific ligaments and muscle groups interacting in different situations (throwing a curveball versus a fastball), and provides links to his glossary for when he says something like “valgus force” in the middle of a sentence, just so you don’t get too lost. This take is by far the most thorough I’ve seen on the subject, and I haven’t seen any rebuttals of the specific points Somers makes. If you have seen something that contradicts what Somers says here, post it in the comments–I’d love to see it.

In reading the comments at Tango’s blog, I was pointed to a third take on the subject at hand. This one, by Graham MacAree of Lookout Landing, takes a different approach. Graham made a lot of noise when he wrote a post almost exactly a year ago entitled, “Biomechanics and You.” In that post, Graham called out the so-called biomechanics experts for being too cavalier with their claims. This more recent post also calls for more discretion. I disagreed with this sentence here:

“As always, we should be moving away from the idea that we can accurately look at what motions cause/do not cause damage and towards what we actually know”

I felt that the quote contradicted what Graham said two lines later, when he wrote, “Someday, we’ll be able to look at stresses in ligaments and get a good idea on which motions are detrimental and beneficial, but attempting to do so now without all the tools in place is short-sighted.” If we move away from trying to figure out what motions cause or don’t cause damage, then how can we accomplish what Graham says in the second quote?

I don’t want to get into a debate here with people more qualified then myself, it’s interesting enough just to watch it happen. But if you’d like to find out what’s going on in the minds of some really smart people, I urge you to click the links above.

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  1. Nick Steiner said...

    Excellent post Dan.  This has been on my mind a lot recently, and it’s good to hear this point of view.

  2. Dan Novick said...

    Thanks. This was on PTI and possibly sports center, so people heard about it plenty. Frankly, I’m shocked that we haven’t had more people say anything to question it.

  3. Nick Steiner said...

    Furthermore, as a writer for Driveline Mechanics, and a person who has learned a lot from Kyle, I find it ridiculous that people cite articles written by Graham as reason why we should discout everything Kyle says.

    Never once has Graham disagreed with any opinions Kyle has had about injuries; yet he tells people that they shouldn’t listen to anything Kyle says because he doesn’t have a degree in Biomechanics. Kyle has researched this stuff very thoroughly, and is very well informed when stating his opinions; who cares if he doesn’t have a degree?

  4. Dan Novick said...

    Nick, I said something along those lines while arguing with Matthew Carruth in the comments of the book blog. The page won’t load now for some reason, but as you can probably figure out, I’m “dan.” Original, I know.

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