Copyright 2002
Coaching Pitchers
By Michael G. Marshall, Ph.D.

     Chapter Two:   Academic Training

     During off-seasons, I attended Michigan State University.   I wanted to coach high school football, basketball and/or baseball.   In 1964, I enrolled in Professor William Heusner's undergraduate Kinesiology course.   He introduced me to baseball's two greatest pitching coaches, Sir Isaac Newton and Daniel Bernoulli.

     Newtonís three laws of motion taught me how to apply force to my pitches.   Bernoulliís fluid flow equation taught me how to spin pitches such that they changed directions differently on their way to home plate.   No longer did I just pick up the baseball and throw it; I followed Coach Newtonís and Coach Bernoulliís instructions.

     In 1965, I started my lifelong investigation of the mechanics of baseball pitching.   I borrowed a 400 frames-per-second sixteen-millimeter camera from MSUís Agricultural Engineering Department and Professor Heusnerís 64 frames-per-second camera and I filmed myself throwing my fastball and curve.   I learned what camera equipment I needed to properly acquire data with which to complete a proper biomechanical analysis of baseball pitching.

     In 1967, the Human Energy Research Laboratory of MSUís Physical Education Department purchased a Red Lakes Lo-Cam 500 frames-per-second pin-registered speed sixteen-millimeter camera.   With this camera and the Agricultural Engineering Departmentís cameras, I again filmed myself pitching.   I learned that with two cameras and no procedure to calibrate synchronous film frames, I had no way to verify my displacement and time data.

     In 1970, under the guidance of Professor Heusner, Masterís Degree student Jim Walton and Human Energy Research Department electronics expert, Bob Wells developed a high-speed timer.   The visual display of this timer had four rows of ten lights each.   The first, second, third and fourth rows synchronously blinked every ten seconds, every second, every one-tenths of a second and every one-hundredth of a second, respectively.   To the naked eye, the fourth row appeared continuously lighted.   By connecting the main timer to two additional displays, this one-thousandth of a second timer enabled researchers to precisely calibrate frames of film from three camera views.   Now, I had the instrumentation with which to verify displacement and time data.

     In October 1971, former MSU graduate teaching assistant and then Assistant Professor at Temple University, Michael C. Greenisen, brought a second Red Lakes Lo-Cam 500 frames-per-second pin-registered camera to East Lansing.   With the Red Lakes camera of MSUís Human Energy Research Laboratory and the 400 frames-per-second camera from MSUís Agricultural Engineering Department, Mike and I filmed myself pitching.

     With verified displacement and time data from these three cameras and the high speed timers, I biomechanically analyzed my fastball, curve and screwball.   After my analysis, I now also followed Pitching Coach Marshallís instructions.

     In addition to Kinesiology, Michigan State University taught me Gross Biomedical Anatomy, Physiology of Exercise, Motor Skill Acquisition, Child Growth and Development and more.   In December 1965, I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with a minor in mathematics.   In March 1967, I earned my Master of Science degree in Physical Education, specializing in Child Growth and Development.   In June 1978, I earned my Doctor of Science degree in the Physiology of Exercise with a cognate degree in Physiological Psychology.   I specialized in Kinesiology and Motor Skill Acquisition.

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