Submarine (baseball)

In baseball, a submarine is a pitch in which the ball is released often just above the ground, but not underhanded, with the torso bent at a right angle, and shoulders tilted so severely that they rotate around a nearly horizontal axis. This is in stark contrast to the underhand softball pitch in which the torso remains upright, the shoulders are level, and the hips do not rotate.

Chad Bradford delivers a pitch with a submarine motion.


The "upside down" release of the submariner causes balls to move differently from pitches generated by other arm slots. Gravity plays a significant role, for the submariner's ball must be thrown considerably above the strike zone,[1] after which it drops rapidly back through. The sinking motion of the submariner's fastball is enhanced by forward rotation, in contrast with the overhand pitcher's hopping backspin.

Submarine pitches are often the toughest for same-side batters to hit (i.e., a right-handed submarine pitcher is the more difficult for a right-handed batter to hit, and likewise for left-handed pitchers and batters). This is because the submariner's spin is not perfectly level; the ball rotates forward and toward the pitching arm side, jamming same-sided hitters at the last moment, even as the ball drops rapidly through the zone.[2]

The rarity of submarine pitchers is almost certainly attributable to its unusual technique. It is not typically a natural style of throwingit is often a learned styleand because the vast majority of pitchers use an overarm motion, most young pitchers are encouraged to throw overhand.

Though the bending motion required to pitch effectively as a submariner means that submariners may be more at risk of developing back problems, it is commonly thought that the submarine motion is less injurious to the elbow and shoulder.[3] Kent Tekulve and Gene Garber, two former submarine pitchers, were among the most durable pitchers in baseball history with 1,944 appearances between the two.

Past major league submariners include Carl Mays, Ted Abernathy, Elden Auker, Chad Bradford, Mark Eichhorn, Gene Garber, Kent Tekulve, Todd Frohwirth, and Dan Quisenberry. Steve Olin was also a submarine pitcher.

Japanese pitcher Shunsuke Watanabe is known as "Mr. Submarine" in Japan. Watanabe has an even lower release point than the typical submarine pitcher, dropping his pivot knee so low that it scrapes the ground. He now wears a pad under his uniform to avoid injuring his knee. His release is so low that his knuckles often become raw from their periodic drag on the ground.

Submarine pitchers

Major League Baseball

Nippon Professional Baseball

  • Kazuhisa Makita
  • Rei Takahashi
  • Hirofumi Yamanaka
  • Kaito Yoza

KBO League

  • Park Jong-hoon
  • Dae-woo Kim

Chinese Professional Baseball League (Taiwan)

  • Lin Chen-hua
  • Huang Tzu-Peng

Former players

See also


  1. Adair, Robert K., The Physics of Baseball, HarperCollins Perennial: New York, NY, 2002, p. 58, ISBN 0-06-008436-7
  2. Brad Ziegler, AL Rookie of the Year. Retrieved on 2010-11-20.
  3. A Different Look. (2007-10-12). Retrieved on 2010-11-20.

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