THE ANGLE OF PRONATION
More on improving your Fastball
Just Released !
new 2-hour DVD, The
Holy Grail - The
the first in the planned 4-module DVD series.
to preview the DVD
designed to help one
and hone this
- No one is doomed to
mediocrity because of a humble fastball. Even a weak fastball
can be juiced up!
the Fastball to Move
- I find in a lifetime of pitching, coaching and instructing
that THIS (lack of movement) is the single most consequential
and yet lacking trait in prospective pitchers particularly in
right handed throwers.
Your Velocity And Develop Your Arm (at the Same Time) - gain
speed on your fastball while increasing arm strength using these
techniques and drills.
Effects of Graded Weighted Baseballs... - When used
properly, and with patience, the weighted ball can be an
extremely effective aide. I've had nothing but success with them
and several of my subjects who've gone on to the pros, swear by
them and are absolutely dedicated to them.
Doctoring the Fastball - Getting the Second Stage -
Natural movement of the fastball is rare and is
reserved for those few individuals by the nature of their
anatomy and delivery make a ball move or veer with little or no
effort. Most pitchers do not have this arrangement and find it
necessary to "DOCTOR" the fastball. "Doctor" here means
imparting different pressures, spins, grips and releases mainly
to make a fastball act, or do something other than be straight.
This article discusses the types of fastballs and provides
information to assist pitchers in developing these pitches.
Pursuit Of The Holy Grail: A Fastball can Be
Taught from The Act of Pitching.
By Dr. John
I must say at the beginning of this discussion that I did
teach anatomy and physiology and also biology, but I make no
attempt to turn this into a scientific essay. It is hardly
intended to be a lesson in anatomical terminology. It does
seem as though some simple, but not oft used terms "fit the
bill" better sometimes or even the majority of moments, but
in this instance I’m going to deviate and utilize a little
anatomy and its mysterious world of words. However, I find
that if we use them once and try to get over it quickly,
that the discussion will be revealing without being
confusing. It certainly is not an attempt to impress a
scholarly dimension to explain something that may be quite
simple (however often overlooked). But in the interest of
brevity and simplicity in this discussion the anatomical
terms will be utilized carefully at the outset and then
eventually relegated to the vocabulary file.
In discussing the pronation phenomenon, it behooves one
to understand that there are pitchers that do this well and
have little or no understanding of this event. However,
there are more than a substantial number that have bland,
even weak fastballs, because they don’t execute the
pronation concept correctly or at all. Being aware of the
pronation angle and executing it creates a strong
possibility of having movement on the fastball. This will
create a positive situation for someone developing his
fastball. It is also a great negative if this isn’t executed
well or at all. The purpose here therefore is to discuss
PRONATION AND SUPINATION
Many persons are befuddled by words like pronation and
supination and yet these catch-all words solve a myriad of
concepts when applied to certain critical events in the
pitching process. Pronation is talked about, few have a fix
on it, but successful pitchers do it well and those with
moving fastballs do it well.
Many pitchers particularly right-handed ones find
themselves at key points in their development without any
movement on their fastballs. This is without a doubt the
critical character, which if missing (movement on fastball)
may forfeit the pitcher’s stature as a prospect. Ultimately,
velocity alone cannot do the trick. However, those few that
marry velocity and movement bring about an effective
fastball that emerges which can carry a career a long way.
One should do all he can to establish a correct way of
throwing a ball so that it possesses vitality and character.
This involves understanding the concept of pronation and the
angles necessary to achieve such.
EXTENT OF PRONATION
Certainly the amount of pronation has to be
controlled—one would not want as much pronation as warranted
on a screwball.
MUSCLES AND BONES OF THE FOREARM
There are two muscles in the forearm which are mainly
involved in the pronation/supination process and they are
the Pronator Teres and the Supinator Brevis. The bones
involved are the radius and the ulna. In pronation the
radius is rotated diagonally across the ulna and the palm
faces dorsal (back) ward. In supination the radius and ulna
Suffice it to say on pronation in the throwing of a
baseball the thumb will move to the pitching side—to the
right for a RHP and to the left for a LHP. In supination the
thumb will turn in toward the glove side-to the left for a
RHP and to the right for a LHP.
Pronation should happen on all thrown balls that are not
designed to be curveballs, sliders, slurves or cutters.
ARM ANGLES AND PRONATION
Certainly arm deliveries and angles favor early pronation
whereas others (overhand) favor late pronation. Anyone with
a penchant for a sinking fastball probably pronates early
and is likely a ¾ arm thrower.
Late, mostly at release
Early—thumb to SS (for RHP)
Quite early—thumb to 3rd
EARLY VS LATE PRONATION
The more one comes to a 2-8 type of rotation, the more
one is likely to pronate early. By contrast, those with
overhand deliveries in which the ball is thrown hard because
the fingers are on top of the ball and the thumb is in a
straight alignment, the pronation is likely just at release.
TYPE OF PITCHES INVOLVED WITH PRONATION AND SUPINATION
|Tailing or veering
||Knuckleball (on some
|Change-up (Circle, OK,
||Change-up (some types)
||Splitter (some types)
Obviously some specialty pitches can be thrown with
either a pronated effect or with a supinated effect and be
effective either way. That is, a change-up could be pronated
and have a movement away from a LHB or if it were supinated
it would move into a LHB. The same can be said of the
splitter and also the knuckleball. However, the other
specialty pitches-- curve, slider, cutter, screwball, sinker
and tailing fastball—all require a precision that is
relative specifically to pronation or relative specifically
THE SHUUTO AND GYROBALL—TWINS??
The shuuto and the gyro ball are pitches in baseball
which haven’t been assimilated by the American baseball
society yet, but have been popular in Japanese baseball
pitching circles (the shuuto anyway, gyro still has a hung
jury) for some time are in my opinion versions of a reverse
slider. I have attempted to throw a reverse slider many
years ago and surely understand the aerodynamics of it
without mastering it. For those who put it in the
change-up/screwball category I suspect their assumptions may
be somewhat correct. Until I see the gyro fully exposed, I’m
going to consider it in the laud of the pronators. If it is
spiral on concept it is likely a reverse slider—some call
this a screwball. Because it is likely off speed, some may
call it a change-up, so obviously it takes on a coat of many
colors. My colleague, Gary Garland with the Japan Baseball
Circuit who has been a privy to Japanese baseball for a long
time and is a baseball writer for the Japan Baseball Daily
(newspaper) insists the shuuto and gyro ball are different
pitches. I’m going to say the shuuto is a reverse slider and
the gyro ball will have to remain on my back burner for a
while, but we will be hearing about this soon enough and
I’ll be toying with it as i perceive it.
EARLY PRONATION VS LATE PRONATION
EARLY PRONATION—involves the thumb at shortly after
hi-cock position (RHP) pointing towards shortstop and as the
release comes about, points towards third base.
LATE PRONATION—fingers at release are coming across the
ball and thumb is in the general direction of third base
EARLY SUPINATION—fingers at hi-cock are starting to go
toward 1st base line or glove side on the classic
LATE SUPINATION—on slider the thumb is pointing to glove
side and on cutter the thumb is slightly to the left (RHP).
These would be examples of late supination. It
happens more toward release.
A reminder that pronation and supination are NOT complex
concepts and if one looks closely at 1) arm slots 2) wrist
slots and 3) release points—a lot about the pitch and its
character are revealed. Persons who study or read the spin
on a thrown ball—a lot about the angles of delivery can be
DEFINED PRONATION—IT is a rotation of the forearm that
moves to palm from an up position to a palm facing down
position (muscles involved are the pronators quadratus and
the pronators teres).
SUPINATION—is the opposite of pronation, the rotation of
the forearm so that the palm faces up. (The muscle involved
is the supinator muscle).
Suffice this definition and discussion is all we need to
apply these events to the pitching process.
||Tailing or veering FB
Fitting into either-or would be: Change-ups, splitters,
forkballs and knucklers—which could involve pronation or
supination depending on what the pitcher wants.
With the influx of Japanese pitchers we may have the
shuuto and the gyroball as pitches that likely are in the
I find quite intriguing the areas of pronation and
supination as criteria for movement on pitches. This is
another area for the aspiring pitcher who wants a precision
approach to his pitching program. Being astute in this area
promotes understanding of universal laws governing this
great skill which requires constant refining. It doesn’t
have to be so complex as to detract from its importance.
PITCHES INVOLVING PRONATION AND SUPINATION
|Fastball (with tail or
POSITION OF PALM AND THUMB IN PRONATION
FOR A RHP
FOR A LHP
|Thumb-goes to right
away from glove
||Thumb is to left
|Palm is turning down
||Palm is turning down
POSITION OF PALM AND THUMB IN SUPINATION
FOR A RHP
FOR A LHP
|Thumb to left—toward
||Thumb to right
|Palm is turning up
||Palm is turning up
Small degrees of each can be accomplished with finger
pressure (which is another way to make the ball move).
index for pronation
middle for supination
The art form is getting the right amount and getting the
axis tilt to fit the desired break.
Understanding these anatomical terms is a fairly simple
affair allowing the pitcher to experiment.
Pitching instruction should minimize and simplify the
aspects of wrist and hand involvement not only in
types of fastballs, but in the great variety of breaking
It’s amazing to me that those with bland, straight
fastballs have not arrived at the necessary "doctoring" to
improve and magnify their key pitch (and yet I stayed this
way most of my career).
It may be necessary to get a strong fix on the arm
angles, wrist angles, pronation extent (early or late) to
determine one’s "action" zone or pitch slot. This would be
where the ball acts best. In this regard, learning the angle
of pronation as an estimate concept and event can only
refine one’s pitching process. There will be those that
approach this situation naturally and need little or no
instruction to implement this phenomenon. However, there
will be many who will develop their pitching schematic with
outstandingly good results by being aware and perceptive in
the angles of pitching.
As a point of conclusion, it is necessary to understand
what action on a fastball means. The same applies to
breaking pitches also. While pronation as the main thrust on
correct fastball throwing and supination is the main concept
on breaking pitches, there are some slight exceptions when
either can enhance a pitcher’s effectiveness. Movement on
the ball is everything in the measurement of a pitcher’s
effectiveness. Anything that can be advanced to improve this
condition (lack of movement) should be looked at carefully
and thoroughly. Talent is wonderful and is exalted and
admired but there is a large majority group that needs
"tweaking" to reach the next level.
Be sure to take a look at Dr. Bagonzi’s book The Act
of Pitching, It is in all book stores and can be ordered
online. Also check out www.pitchingprofessor.com for more
info on pitching and new video clips.
SPIN DIRECTIONS AND PRONATION (RHP)
1/7: Slight pronation—late—tailing fastball
2/8: Spin direction early and greater pronation—sinking
3/9: Spin early—probably sidearm—screwball type of pitch.
BODY TYPES AND PRONATIONS
Short, stocky ala Mike Marshall. Probably ideal
as Marshall was the best of them all.
Carn Hubbell—loose wrist, lanky—lived by the
All kinds of body types when it comes to angle
PRONATION ANGLES (RHP)
Thumb towards 2B and CF
Thumb between CF and SS
Thumb toward 3B
PRONATION ANGLES (LHP)
Thumb towards CF
Thumb towards 2B
Thumb towards 1B
FAVORED ARM SLOTS
3/4 for 2/8 spin (RHP) and sinking FB
¾ + for 1/7 spin (RHP) and tailing FB
Overhand for 6/12 to 1/7 spin and tailing, rising
3/4 – for 2/8 and 3/9 spin—screwball and sinker
Sidearm for 3-9 spin—sinker and screwball
WRIST ANGLE (RHP)
1 o’clock favors 1/7 rotation
2 o’clock favors 2/8 rotation
LEFT HANDED WRIST ANGLES
11 o’clock favors 11/5 rotation
10 o’clock favors 10/4 rotation
PRONATION GUARANTEES a strong release of the ball.
WRIST ANGLE AND PRONATION (RHP)
Wrist and fingers at 1 o’clock—1/7 rotation and
Wrist and fingers at 2 o’clock—2/8 rotation and
Wrist and fingers at 3 o’clock—3/9 rotation and a
screwball type of action (almost always sidearmer)
Note—a 3/9 rotation can be accomplished from a higher
arm angle and would be the precursor for a screwball.
WRIST ANGLE AND PRONATION (LHP)
Wrist and fingers at 11 o’clock—11/5 rotation and
Wrist and fingers at 10 o’clock—10/4 rotation and
Wrist and fingers at 9 o’clock—9/3 rotation and
screwball type of action (see above note)
A word about a screwball—this pitch comes in different
degrees—it is basically a reverse curveball, but can be like
a reverse slider and also can take on a downspin where in
effect it is like a drop.