The Cave

The Cave Blog

The Mechanics of Throwing (well, pitching anyways.)

Since this year your level of fitness, if you were in the actual CrossFit Games, was measured in part by your ability to throw a softball, I figured that we might want to take a look at the mechanics of throwing.   Throwing is one of the skills that truly sets us apart from the other animals.  For pretty much any physical ability that we have and pride ourselves in, be it running, swimming, climbing, swinging, diving, whatever,  there is an animal that can trounce us at it without really trying, except for throwing.  Think about it.  An elephant can out-lift you, even if you dedicated your whole lift to Olympic Lifting.  A Cheetah can out sprint you.  Horses can out run you.  Dolphins can out swim Michael Phelps like he was a tadpole.  Chimpanzees could probably tear you limb from limb in a fight, but humans can throw better than just about anything else.  In part, this is because of the neurological aspects to the skill as well as the physiological properties of your shoulders and the advantages that being bipedal and having opposable thumbs gives us when it comes to throwing.  So even if in pre-historic times woolly mammoths could stomp on us and crush us like little crunchy bugs, we could ambush them from overhanging cliffs and pin them with hundreds of spears and eat woolly mammoth meat all winter till our bellies hurt, and stay warm with woolly mammoth-made blankets; although by watching some of the fittest in the world throwing softballs, you’d might wonder if we’re really all that good at it.  The CrossFitters who had good throwing mechanics dominated.  Check out these couple of videos.  Physics buffs will like:

I find it interesting that hip mobility and technique plays such a large factor in throwing speed and ability.  If you recall, one of the CrossFit maxims is that functional movements are generated from “Core to Extremity”.  Here’s Spencer Hendel’s throw, coming in first for this part of the skills 1 test with 258′9″:

Professional Baseball players are pretty fit, at least if you consider that their throwing ability helps them lock in that  414.5k/year minimum wage, which is considerably more than the quarter million that’s yours to keep if you won the 2011 CF Games.  Of course, the prize money for the championship next year may be considerably larger!

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