One of our jobs as a strength and conditioning coach is to make sure athletes can achieve joint angles and ranges of motion that may be beneficial to them in their sport. We also want to get them strong and stabile in common joint angles they may see in competition.
Recently I made an Instagram post about an assessment tool I use for our pitchers we train that demonstrates a position they see in the motion of pitching. The test is called the active straight leg raise and you can see a couple examples in the link below
Here’s an example of a great active straight leg raise
The active straight leg raise is a near perfect tool to determine whether a pitcher needs to work on their finish or not. Almost all pitchers during their assessment who don’t score perfectly on this test say that their pitching coach is working on their finish with them. When they fail this test they usually finish too high or with a bent knee causing energy leaks in their throw. This prevents them from transferring all their momentum into the ball.
When performing the active straight leg raise you want to be able to get your leg perpendicular to the ground, with the knee fully extended and the ankle dorsiflexed to the point where it is pointing at your nose. While in this position you don’t want to see any rotation at the hip and the opposite leg completely straight. Most of our pitchers are close but cannot achieve a perfect position, while at the same time all of our pitchers who can throw 90 plus can achieve this position no problem either cold or with a thorough warm up.
To show how important this position is here’s some picture of elite level pitchers finishing in similar positions.
In conjunction with being able to achieve full hip flexion with a straight leg and a dorsiflexed ankle, you will also be needed to adducted at the hip. What this does is create a breaking force at the end of the throwing motion that allows energy to continue through the body into the ball. A lack of mobility in this area can be from tight hip abductors and external rotators. To fully master creating this breaking force it’s highly beneficial to be able to achieve this position.
Want to improve on this? Here’s 7 exercises to do in your warm ups and daily to improve on this
Soft tissue exercises
As a pitcher performing the active straight leg raise as a test before throwing to determine if your hips are warmed up enough to throw is a great tool to have in your back pocket. After performing a general warm up and before starting a throwing warm up use this as a test to determine your readiness to move forward.