The Relationship Between Balance and Pitching Error in College Baseball Pitchers

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Abstract.Marsh, D.W., L.A. Richard, L.A. Williams, and K.J. Lynch. The relationship between balance and pitching error in college baseball. J. Strength Cond. Res. 18(3):441–446. 2004.—The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between balance and pitching error in college baseball pitchers. Sixteen college baseball pitchers, 9 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and 7 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III, participated in the study. Balance ability, expressed as average sway velocity (deg·s-1), during dominant leg unilateral stance with eyes open and eyes closed was quantified for each subject utilizing the Balance Master System 7.04 (long force plate). Additionally, each subject underwent sensory organization testing on the SMART EquiTest System providing information regarding the effective use of the somatosensory, visual, and vestibular inputs. Pitching error was assessed with a high-speed video camera recorder during spring practice. A JUGS radar gun measured pitch velocity. The mean pitching error was 37.50 cm with a mean pitch velocity of 78 miles·h-1 (35 m·s-1). No significant correlation was demonstrated between unilateral stance eyes open and pitching error (r = -0.24; p = 0.36) or unilateral stance eyes closed and pitching error (r = -0.29; p = 0.27). A significant negative correlation was demonstrated between sensory organization test 5 and pitching error (r = -0.50; p = 0.05) and between sensory organization test 5/1 and pitching error (r = -0.50; p = 0.05). Additionally, unilateral stance eyes closed demonstrated a positive correlation with pitch velocity (r = 0.52; p = 0.04). The results reveal that low levels of vestibular input utilization may lead to high levels of pitching error in college baseball pitchers.

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