By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
A good submarine pitcher can be a hitter’s worst nightmare. With a deceptive delivery and deceiving movement, a submariner can have an advantage over a typical over-the-top pitcher. However, there are several things to keep in mind when learning how to throw submarine, as well as some pointers that current submarine pitchers can learn from.
First off, you may want to find a pitching coach who specializes in submarine pitching. The mechanics for throwing submarine are unique, and it takes a certain coach to understand these mechanics. A good submarine pitching coach can be hard to find, but very valuable for a submarine pitcher in training.
If you look at many of the submariners, there really isn’t a lot of difference in their mechanics from a regular pitcher other than the extreme shoulder tilt. The arm still operates in a similar fashion, and the same mechanics still apply to the shoulder and elbow. The arm circle should still be applied and you will see a similar layback of the forearm into maximum external rotation.
The main key to avoid arm problems as a submarine pitcher is to finish with a pronated hand position and follow through to your opposite hip like you normally would so that the stress on the elbow is relieved. At the same time, remember to keep your fingers on top of the ball, otherwise you will be throwing uphill and hitters love that.
You may ask yourself, “Is throwing submarine a joke or gimmick”?
The answer to that is “no”. Many scouts love a good submarine pitcher who has good command and movement. There have been multiple professional submarine pitchers who found success, usually as a closer. Of course, if a scout is looking for a starter who throws heat, you may be out of luck. Submarine pitchers typically don't throw as hard as traditional overhand pitchers. But if you are a good submariner with great command and off speed, scouts will notice and will consider you a prospect.
When deciding whether to throw submarine or overhand, consider these pros and cons:
Submarine pitching pros: Easier to get movement, deceptive to hitters, easy to keep the ball low.
Overhand pitching pros: Greater velocity, easier to find instruction, better potential to be a starter.
Submarine pitching cons: Slower velocity, harder to find instruction, can limit off speed options.
Overhand pitching cons: Batters are used to it, more competition in the “next level”.
The main thing when deciding to throw submarine is if you are comfortable with it, and it is effective for you. If you are looking for a good submariner to watch, check out Chad Bradford.
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