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Thread: The "acid test" of a breaking pitch

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    Certified softball maniac RubberBiscuit's Avatar
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    Default The "acid test" of a breaking pitch

    Just a note on something I have recognized over the years -

    I used to think that statements on top speed were the most fictitious thing said in pitching discussions by coaches & parents.

    But after being the main practice catcher for the biggest TB club in my state I have seen that the biggest fallacy is the number of distinct pitches a pitcher supposedly has. So so so many coaches & parents will see a pitcher hit a spot where this type or that type of pitch is traditionally thrown to and immediately call it that pitch.

    To me the only judge of a pitcher TRULY having this pitch or that pitch is to get a catcher, that is totally foreign to the pitcher, but still a very good catcher, and see how well the catcher catches those breaking pitches.

    There are pitchers that it has been said that have 20 different pitches but when I catch them I dont even need to focus (regardless of speed differences between 50-65mph). The same spin ball is just thrown to a different location (in general). Then there are pitchers I have caught for that have had ONLY 3-4 pitches that I have got to be on my toes because man those pitches just go places that the brain is not ready for (until you have seen her after many many reps).

    And guess what,.those pitchers I have to be on my toes with get all the Ks.

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    Banned halskinner's Avatar
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    I always found it funny how a parent would say she has 5 pitches. Then I would get on the bucket and say "Cool, show me". Did her dropball drop? Yup, about a foot and a half before I caught it. Same thing for her curve, screwball, etc.

    they rarely ever consider where the ball is compared to where the ;HIT ZONE' starts in front of the plate. If it does not break before it enters the hit zone, its just a fastball going to a little different location,,,very hittable.

    Spin and speed. Got to have the right combination to get the ball to break, break enough to be effective and to start to break at an effective point. Otherwise, its just a work in progress movement pitch.

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    I'm a fan redhack's Avatar
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    I think the acid test is the effectiveness of the pitch on batters commensurate of age/skill.

    DD drop ball moves down a good 1-2 inches over the plate (Gravity helps). At 12Y it was very effective.

    Screw ball is fastest pitch. Moves a good 1-2 inches top. As a LHP it was a strike out pitch. As a backdoor it backs most batters at the box.

    There is no one glove fits all on this board. The effect and results are all that matters.

    I refer to DD as having one pitch with 4 she is working on.

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    Super Moderator Amy in AZ.'s Avatar
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    I rarely see a HS pitcher with anything other than a FB. She might finish a little different so that people think she threw a screw ball, but she didn't. Of course the batter, sees her step left (for example) and is fooled too.

    I had a former student's dad call last week. He asked me how I felt about the coach wanting his 12 yo DD to have 5 pitches. I said "absolutely not."

    It is good to hit your spots with a 50 mph fast ball, at 12. But you definitely need a change up. And I have had parents say, they don't want her throwing a CU in Minors LL, because someone might hit the ball. (I am knocking my head against a wall.)
    MTR - A foul ball is a foul ball. Nothing else, just a foul ball.

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    I'm a fan redhack's Avatar
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    If the batter is fooled then who really cares what it is called. Is that not what pitching is all about? Referring to a pitch as a curve or a fastball that "moved an inch" sideways is semantics when the batter walks back to the dugout.

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    I eat, sleep and breathe softball GOINGDEEP's Avatar
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    I understand where you are coming from RB, truely.

    I guess the problem comes into play on classifications of pitches. Realistically most good pitchers only have 3 maybe 4 pitches they can control. But we can branch off those pitches to a degree. The problem is, what do we call them and then how do we signal for those hybrid pitches? We gotta use something.

    Let's say Sally has a drop, rise, curve. Normally with the same mechanics each time they are going to "break" the same degree. BUT if we adjust the arm slot, pronation, wrist tilt, force application, or finger pressures we CAN get those to move ( - or + ) than the normal politically correct classification. So are these the 5-6-7th pitch, or just versions of the 1-4?

    We run into some really good hitters and the second-third time through the order they may have our breaking pitches down or close to it ( fouling off a few and a nice battle in the box ). That's when we might chose to change the "amount" of break and perhaps run the ball, cut or fade.

    Sometimes we will get a K, sometimes a weak connection off the handle or cap, sometimes they will get a hit. But I'd also say that's about the right % 30/30/30. And 60% of that should be an out, I'll gamble with the later 30.

    I'd NEVER say DD has 20 pitches. In a crowd at the ballpark I'd "say" she has 3 good ones and maybe 2 we work on. If I'm one on one with a man/woman who understands the principles of pitching I might go into more detail on the "branches", after we win of course.
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    Certified softball maniac Ken B's Avatar
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    Was is Megan Langenfeld that threw a scrise, screw and scrop?

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    Certified softball maniac Rocketech1's Avatar
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    100% agree with the original post. I like what Hillhouse says that you only need 3 pitches: peel drop (fastball), change up, and rise ball. With these pitches you are working vertically within the strike zone. The screw ball and curve work more or less horizontally and dont really move as much as one would think, especially at the younger ages. I believe most PCs introduce all of these pitches so that the student has to keep coming to lessons to "master" each of these pitches. For example, the first three years my DD (started as a 7yo) was "taught": 4 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball, circle change, flip change, curve ball, finger pressure fastball, and introduction to rise ball! Now I know better, and she only works on speed and location for her fastball and flip change. Once she reaches 50mph and is a teenager she will work on the rise ball mechanics. I don't see her ever needing to learn a curve or screw ball or variation there of.

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    Certified softball maniac Rocketech1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenB View Post
    Was is Megan Langenfeld that threw a scrise, screw and scrop?
    She did throw the screw ball a lot in the 2010 College World Series and hit her locations well but she also gave up some big hits and home runs in the finals.

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    I eat, sleep and breathe softball GOINGDEEP's Avatar
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    Every kinda pitch will give up big hits and homeruns.

    What we have to remember is what may work for a pitcher at 10, may not work for him/her at 14,18,25,30. Even proffessional pitchers ( and college ) change pitches once there or changed pitches in minors to reach MLB. Some for the physical body changes, some from the instruction of better PC's, some for the "revolution" of popular pitches. ( each decade or so the popular pitch changes )

    Mostly a PC teach what has worked for them, that's their bread and butter and have the experience/knowledge to teach "said pitch". But there are exceptions to the normal popular pitches and those who have the "gift" to make them work.

    Let's take my older brother, D1 overhand slot pitcher with a good curve and slider and an ok sinker. His youngest struggled overhand or sidearm and my brother switched him to submarine last year at this very time. 3/4 of a year later he signs D1, and probably wouldn't have......pitching the other styles and the "normal" pitches that come with them.

    Good friend of my DD who is 2 years older and whom we would pick up and play with from time to time, had to "add" a pitch at 16-17. She lived off the rise/drop, she threw them very well. Problem was she was popular at the ballparks and every team she would face knew her rise and drop were her "thing". The batters quit chasing her pitches, putting the counts in the batter's advantage, and she'd have to come back "in". She developed a decent curve and it helped her, pitching smaller D1 this spring.

    My DD LHP doesn't throw a rise ( bless her heart ) its just a good high FB. But she has a good screw and backdoor curve that get a fair number of looking strikes, and a running screw that tails down to get a ton of ground ball hits to the IF corners. Would I recommend ALL pitchers use what works for my DD, absolutely not.

    Just don't throw all your apples in one basket. Pitching is one of the few things that being different and unique can be an advantage.
    Last edited by GOINGDEEP; 02-26-2013 at 05:35 PM.
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