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Couple questions...

Hey, y'all! I'm obviously a newbie here. My dd, 11 (turned in the Spring), is playing her 2nd year of rec league. This year, we had a phenomenal group of coaches, as well as players, and took the league championship. She was chosen for All-Stars, which we have agreed to do. At the end of the State tourney, we were ranked 8th, which is a far cry from last year when we were at the bottom of the heap!

We are also allowing our dd to play on the Varsity's B-team, which is a good thing for a girl going into the 6th grade, I think. They have very rigorous practices - a lot more "physical" activity than what she was used to with rec ball.

She is a southpaw. At the beginning of the season, they played her at 3rd. She worked really, really well with the 1st baseman and the catcher. However, watching her, it seems awkward for her to be there - it's like she has to make too many motions to get the ball in the first place and then to make the play.

She wants desperately to work on pitching. She mentioned it to her coach. He said something about it to me early on - how she had speed and needed to work on her accuracy. She is probably one of the biggest girls on her team - built like a brick house. She has height and power, both things that I figured would make a good pitcher. He has begun to work with his child, who is 9 and small (well, not that size matters, but still). I have told my dd to tell him she wants to do this - at least maybe he'd work with her. She said she wasn't going to do it - she'd rather gripe to me about it. Should I mention something to him? He's a phenomenal fella - really down to earth and absolutely HATES to lose!

We have a girl on our team who has been working on the side with a pitching coach. She is a sweet child, but during the State tourney, walked winning runs in - one inning, walked all 5 runs. We were still on vacation during that game. My phone was ringing off the hook with parents calling to complain about the pitching. I know we have another girl on the team who is fully capable of getting strikes in there - fast and without an arch. The girl pitching, bless her, gets stuck in a rut and is more slow pitching than fast...a lot of arch. I called the coach and left voicemail. Later in the day, after the obvious stomping, he called and said he knew he should have put in the other girl, but one of the other coaches kept telling him to let the pitcher ride it out. Sure, ride it out and cost us a game!

I'm just asking all of you fastpitch enthusiasts out there what you think I should do as a parent. Should I ask the coach to work with her or just forget it? He wants to keep this team together and forgo the whole rec league thing next summer, as it is nothing but a major catastrophe in our area - very, very unorganized and just a joke. What my dd is getting from varsity practices is FAR more than what she has gotten otherwise, but she'd like to do both. I am, for now, letting her do that - going from one practice to the other and on Mondays, it's 4 hrs of practice for her with no complaints. When she practices at the school, I don't say a word to the coaches - she belongs to them in the fence. I do think that she'd make a wonderful pitcher and would like for her "rec league" coach to start working with her. I don't, however, want to push it on him or step out of bounds.

Thanks, in advance, for any advice y'all could give me. I'm learning here but SO enjoying this ride! I never knew what fun this was going to be - watching these girls get all down and dirty and having fun all the while!
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,851
63
Dallas, Texas
What are your DD's goals? What does she want to accomplish? How far does she want to go with softball? Does she want to try to play in college?

At age 11 (believe it or not), she is almost too old to learn pitching. So, you have to decide *right now* whether she want to pitch or not.

Softball pitching is not something she can pick up easily. This isn't baseball where the child has already learned how to throw the ball overhand and you are simply refining the motion. Fastpitch pitching is a whole new skill.

There is only one way to learn to pitch: Do it right, or don't waste your time, energy and money. To do it right, she needs to find a good pitching coach and she has to start playing travel ball. There is no other way.

As for learning from her coach: He may be a great guy, but I doubt he knows anything about pitching. Most pitching coaches tell their kids to ignore their team coach when it comes to pitching.

So, your DD has a tremendous amount of work to do between now and next season. She needs a pitching coach and she needs you to guide her through this.

Pitching is not for the lazy or weak (either in mind or body).

So, since you sound like someone who wants to know "the truth", here it is: Rec leagues suck. If she is talented at softball (whether pitching or not), she has just wasted a year of her already too short softball career. Don't waste another one.
 
So right!

I appreciate your candid answer. There are several coaches who specifically work with the girls during practice at the school - pitching, batting, fielding, etc.. One in particular is great - has been coaching his own dd for years and she is starting pitcher, senior this year, for the team. He has offered a lot of sage advice and has given my dd some very good tips. Right now, his dd travels, too, so his time is limited. When her season is over, we're going to really focus on working with my dd.

When she first began to play ball, she was not too gung-ho about it. She was even less impressed after her first couple of practices with what she calls the "big girls". After she got into the routine and saw that she really could keep up with them at their pace, she LOVES it! She jumped in the car after a 3 hour practice two weeks ago and said, "I want a scholarship in softball, Mom. I'm good at it and I love it."

She is a hard worker and when on vacation, she worked drills daily. She works at home with her Daddy, who can't offer too much in advice in the softball realm, as he was a baseball player. I played tennis and soccer, so cannot offer anything in the way of advice to her, other than major encouragement.

Her batting has improved dramatically since she began practicing at the school with a "real" batting coach. He has shown her things that we only knew existed on a college level - too much ESPN! We didn't really follow our school's softball team last year, as they only had maybe 4 home games. However, they did bring home the state title, so that was impressive (graduated only 3 players). The pressure is on to keep that, so she knows that she has to bring her A game every time she gets out there. If she doesn't get out there, she also knows that she is there to support her team whether she is on the field or not.

Rec league, indeed, sucks. However, on the flip side, I'm not sure at her age I'd want her to have to "tryout" to get on a team. What if she doesn't make it? It'd probably hurt me more than her! We are in the middle of nowhere. All of the competitive teams are at least a 45 minute drive, one way. I'm sure that is the tale told by a lot more than us. If we keep our "all-star" team together, I think they could compete. We'd just play tourneys throughout the season and not bother with rec at all. It's really, really bad here - fields are the worst things I have ever seen. No one within our city, including the mayor, cares one iota about the sports program here. We have discussed trying to break away and forming our own league and having fields built, but cannot find the land that isn't being used for cattle or vegetation! UGH - it's just frustrating.

To add to it, we have a 6 yr old, fixing to be 7, who plays baseball. He is the polar opposite of dd. He doesn't give one red rip about it - he is there to have fun and learn - not at all like dd, who is there to win! My husband also works out of town, not getting back until well after 6pm daily. That makes it super hard on me - being torn between two children involved in sports. The saving grace was our son decided not to play on the All-Star team, which gave us the time to devote to our dd, who really, really enjoys it!

Thanks a million for your advice. I have so many other questions about it - enough to probably write a book! :confused:
 
May 22, 2008
351
0
NW Pennsylvania
If your daughter wants to pitch, I would suggest skipping the rec coach...he may be a great headcoach, but it is unlikely he is a great pitching coach. Beware of hiring just any pitching coach, as there are quite a few poor ones out there. If your High School has a State champ team, your varsity coach can undoutedy steer you to a good coach, as he must have great pitching. Be prepared to spend lots of time, a fair bit of money & dont expect a fast process.I would reccommend using a video camera & a radar gun on your child at intervals so she can confirm that she is making progress.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,851
63
Dallas, Texas
You are right Hollyrock--everyone knows that tale of woe. Basically, all travel teams fight the same battles. They are independent organizations, so getting a field is a major headache. My kids grew up in one community that had more than enough money to take care of the fields, and yet our softball organization had to fight to get access to them.

As to distance from travel teams: 45 minutes is nothing. We're from Chicagloand, and we drove 60 to 90 minutes for every away game and every tournament. We drove 45 minutes one way to pitching lessons. Ever hear of Kasi Carroll? She pitched for U of Georgia (26-9 in her senior year). She was born and raised in Norris City, Illinois. I'll bet that is more out in the sticks than you are. So, it is only a question as to whether you want to commit the time, energy and money to this.

The team will get together and practice a little, but not as much as you might think. Individual practice is much more important than team practices. Basically, great softball players are made by a Dad or Mom working his/her a** off hitting groundballs, pop ups, catching, pitching, etc.



As to try out: You aren't protecting her from failure, you are making her weak. Failure is part of softball (or baseball). If as a batter, your DD fails 2 out of 3 times, she is getting a scholarship. You have to find out how good she is relative to everyone else.
 

FastpitchFan

Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
496
0
Montreal, Canada
For pitching, getting her started right with the proper fundamentals is the most important thing. Getting a qualified pitching instructor is definitely a good start.

Many kids get started and develop over time a few bad habits or faulty mechanics and it takes more work to undo them later. If you start with the right basics, It is soooo much easier down the road.

That's my advide regarding pitching.

Marc
 
May 7, 2008
468
0
Morris County, NJ
Pitching -

Find a qualified and recommended instructor

Purchase a bucket of softballs - preferably a bucket with a styrofoam seat cushion on top for you to sit on and catch while she practices pitching to you.

Find either a backstop, tall piece of chain-link fence or brick wall - saves the trouble of chasing down the bad pitches that miss high, low, left and right when they 1st learn how to pitch.

Practice 2x-3x week for the next 26 weeks in addition to the weekly lesson

DD will be ready to go for the Spring softball Season as a pitcher
 
Thanks a bunch! There is a chain link fence next door (antebellum home that is used for show only, so it's fine to use their fence). She goes over there a bunch and pitches to a cup she shoves in the fence for a target. She gets in a "lunging" type position - knee bent and one in front of her. It looks awkward as all get out, but it seems to be doing the trick. Also, a pitching coach told her to sit down with her hand on her knee and a ball in her hand. He said to "flip" the ball up, catching it as it comes down, about 100x a night. He said that would encourage the "flip" mode of pitching.

We had a child who played rec league with us last season. They decided to go competitive this summer. She pitched a lot for us - had been going to a major pitching coach not far from here like 2-3x a week. Anyway, she came out to the park to watch our girls play towards the end of our season. One of our coaches asked if she was pitching for her competitive team - dead silence. Obviously, it was good enough for rec, but not nearly good enough for competitive.

As with my dd's batting, I want her to learn the RIGHT way right off the bat. That is one thing that her school coaches have commented on about her - she hasn't been playing long enough to get into any bad habits. The only bad habit that she truly has that has been very hard for her to shake is when she makes major contact with the ball, she'll drop her left hand after she's followed through with the bat. I guess that's a bad habit, as I haven't noticed but maybe 2 of the other girls doing that.

We did have to go up an inch in glove size - play with a smaller ball for rec league. I have noticed a major difference in her fielding since we bought the new glove. It has really helped her self-esteem, too.

It's amazing how different a child's attitude is when they are praised for doing something right and are enjoying doing it!
 

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