'Lumbopelvic Control' Predicts Performance in Pro Baseball Pitchers

Released: 3-Aug-2011 10:00 AM EDT
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Pitchers with Better Core Stability Have Better Stats

Newswise — Philadelphia, Pa. (August 3, 2011) – A new technique for assessing core stability or "lumbopelvic control" in the muscles of the hips, pelvis, and torso predicts on-field performance in minor-league baseball pitchers, according to a study in the August issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

"These data suggest that lumbopelvic control influences overall performance for baseball pitchers and that a simple test of lumbopelvic control can potentially identify individuals who have a better chance of pitching success," concludes the study by Ajit M.W. Chaudhari, Ph.D., and colleagues of The Ohio State University, Columbus.

'Level Belt' May Predict Effectiveness in Minor League Pitchers
Dr. Chaudhari and colleagues designed a study to evaluate a device called the Level Belt, which estimates the pitcher's ability to maintain a level pelvis while shifting his weight from a double-leg to a single-leg pitching stance. Using the Level Belt, the researchers estimated the degree of pelvic tilt during a simulated pitching motion.

Seventy-five pitchers in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system were studied during spring training. The pitchers, average age 22.5 years, pitched at the A, AA, or AAA minor-league levels.

The median Level Belt score (pelvic tilt angle) was seven degrees. Pitching statistics were assessed for 48 athletes who went on to pitch at least 50 innings during the subsequent season. Statistics were compared for 32 pitchers with better lumbopelvic control (pelvic angle less than seven degrees) versus 16 with worse control (pelvic angle seven degrees or greater).

Pitchers with better lumbopelvic control had better pitching statistics. They allowed an average of 1.352 walks plus hits per inning, compared to 1.584 for pitchers with worse lumbopelvic control. While that may seem like a small difference, it was equal to about two additional hits or walks per nine innings—more than enough to affect the outcome of a game.

Pitchers with better lumbopelvic control also pitched more innings during the season: about 79 versus 53 innings. There was no difference in injuries between groups.

Other pitching statistics were also better for pitchers with better lumbopelvic control—including opponents' batting average, .260 versus .280. Although these individual statistics weren't significantly different between groups, the players with better lumbopelvic control had overall pitching performance similar to the median for Major League pitchers (while pitchers with poorer lumbopelvic control ranked in the bottom third).

Most studies of pitching biomechanics have focused on the shoulder and elbow. However, the muscles of the hips, pelvis, or and torso play an important role in creating an efficient baseball pitch. Good core stability or lumbopelvic control may be a critical link in transferring energy from the legs, through the body, to the throwing hand. It may also generate additional energy from the middle body.

Lumbopelvic control is a valuable predictor of pitching performance in minor league pitchers, the preliminary results suggest. If borne out by further research, the Level Belt test may provide a new tool for identifying pitchers with a better chance of success in professional baseball—including at the Major League level.

The results also suggest "a relationship between lumbopelvic control and performance that should be considered by strength and conditioning professionals when developing programs aimed at improving pitching performance of baseball players at all levels of skill," Dr. Chaudhari and coauthors write. They believe that future studies using the Level Belt may yield "valuable insights" into the role of lumbopelvic control in other athletic activities.

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About The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
The editorial mission of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) is to advance the knowledge about strength and conditioning through research. A unique aspect of this journal is that it includes recommendations for the practical use of research findings. While the journal name identifies strength and conditioning as separate entities, strength is considered a part of conditioning. The journal wishes to promote the publication of peer-reviewed manuscripts which add to our understanding of conditioning and sport through applied exercise science. The JSCR is the official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

About the National Strength and Conditioning Association
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is an international nonprofit educational association founded in 1978. The NSCA develops and presents the most advanced information regarding strength training and conditioning practices and injury prevention. Central to its mission, the NSCA bridges the gap between the scientist in the laboratory and the practitioner in the field. By working to find practical applications for new research findings in the strength and conditioning field, the Association fosters the development of strength training and conditioning as a discipline and as a profession.

About Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) is a leading international publisher for healthcare professionals and students with nearly 300 periodicals and 1,500 books in more than 100 disciplines publishing under the LWW brand, as well as content-based sites and online corporate and customer services.

LWW is part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading global provider of information, business intelligence and point-of-care solutions for the healthcare industry. Wolters Kluwer Health is part of Wolters Kluwer, a market-leading global information services company with 2010 annual revenues of €3.6 billion ($4.7 billion).


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