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How does she get that fastball down!?

Sep 29, 2008
1,268
38
Northeast Ohio
I have a 13 year old daughter. She has been pitching for about 4 years. She is good but not yet in that very good or elite category. Locates fastball in and out in low 50's. Has a flip change, screw and drop she can hit about 60%. A curve she can hit about 50%. Problem is she can't get her fastball down. It is right there thigh high to letters which is rarely a called strike. Problem is once teams realize blue isn't going to call it they lay off. Not only that...big strong teams like it there. She is even or behind in the count so often that she really can't take full advantage of her other pitches because she can't count on locating a strike on a 3-2 count. She's a leaper, drags well with no crow hop or illegal leap. Not sure why she can't get that fastball down about 8 inches. Any help?
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,898
83
Dallas, Texas
If she is really ready to go to the next level, it is time to change your whole thinking about "strikes":

She won't learn to throw strikes by working on throwing strikes. She has to learn to control the ball so that she can put the ball wherever she wants. (Even if she plays 4 years in D1 and goes to the CWS, she will never have an umpire that has the text book strike zone. The strike zones usually are trapezoidal (fan shaped) or egg shaped)

She is old enough to start differentiating what she is doing in practice. She should say (and you should tell her), "In this drill, I'm working on speed. Nothing else matters" Or "In this drill, I'm working on control. Nothing else matters."

Tell her she is now working on control. The way she will learn control is to over-exaggerate what she is trying to do so she can feel what it is like. Then, she brings it back to something more reasonable.

So, she need to have her over compensate for throwing the ball high. So, have her throw fastballs that bounce to the catcher. You will probably be surprised when she has a problem consistently throwing the ball low. When she can do this, have her work on bringing the ball up. When she gets the ball too far up in the zone, then start over.

E.g., suppose she is throwing six pitches knee high, and then throws one shoulder high. Then, you have her *IMMEDIATELY* throw a ball that bounces to the plate.

The best drill for control is to divide the strike zone into 4 quadrants. Upper left, upper right, lower right, lower left. Then, move the glove from quadrant to quadrant, asking her to throw into the quadrant.

For the first round, nothing matters except if the ball goes into the quadrant. If she can't consistently put the ball into a particular quadrant, have her over exaggerate. For example, if you want the ball high and outside, have her throw it three feet outside and six feet high. Once she can do that consistently, then bring her back around the plate and emhasize hitting the mitt.

What you are ultimately teaching is "feel". Do the math--an 8 inch difference in height over 40 feet is a difference of 1 degree at release. She (in this case meaning the whole player--her body, mind and soul) has to be able to make these incredibly small adjustments effortlessly.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,898
83
Dallas, Texas
Generally, you and she are going to have to raise the bar. You and she have to start working on perfection. I don't mean to be blunt, but saying that her breaking stuff works 60% of the time means that she doesn't know a breaking pitch. Pick one breaking pitch and perfect that pitch. Then, start on the next pitch.
 
Sep 11, 2008
74
0
caifornia
I don't mean to be blunt, but saying that her breaking stuff works 60% of the time means that she doesn't know a breaking pitch.
i interpreted him to mean that she lands the breaking ball in the strike zone 60% of the time, not that it breaks 60% of the time, but u r probably right.
 
Without seeing video it could be a simple release point issue like fastpitch 91 says. My guess is she may be pushing the ball (releasing out in front of hip). I tell my kids to release somewhere under the chin. One thing you can try is a therapy band around the upper thigh. Make sure the ball and wrist can get under band and have her throw to feel that release point as you hold the band. Alot of kids that push tend to have a locked arm around the circle which takes away the elbow/wrist/finger whip. You could look at that too. There could be additional factors like posture, etc.
 
I have a 13 year old daughter. She has been pitching for about 4 years. She is good but not yet in that very good or elite category. Locates fastball in and out in low 50's. Has a flip change, screw and drop she can hit about 60%. A curve she can hit about 50%. Problem is she can't get her fastball down. It is right there thigh high to letters which is rarely a called strike. Problem is once teams realize blue isn't going to call it they lay off. Not only that...big strong teams like it there. She is even or behind in the count so often that she really can't take full advantage of her other pitches because she can't count on locating a strike on a 3-2 count. She's a leaper, drags well with no crow hop or illegal leap. Not sure why she can't get that fastball down about 8 inches. Any help?
Two primary things control height location:
1) body position at release. Her spine should be within 1-2 degrees of verticle (behind verticle) at release for a fastball or dropball. This will help in throwing less upward angle.
2) the finger snap direction (release angle). To much upward release angle will create a high pitch. Simply tell her to snap her fingers forward not upward. This tends to reduce the release angle-----yes the fingers still do snap upward, but it is a micro second later than normal.

It typically is no more difficult/complex than this.
Rick
 

halskinner

Banned
May 7, 2008
2,689
0
Good grief!

Have her practice with a wiffle ball, the kind with all the holes in it. The first several she will throw will go sky high. Keep pitching it until she can throw it in the strike zone. Then, give her back the real softball.

Once she is throwing the real one, she will probably throw the first 3 or 4 in the dirt, expect that. Then she will bring it up into the strike zone.

Too many times young pitchers are taught to let the weight of the ball do most of the thinking for them. That's sad. Take the weight of the ball away from them and guess what? They have absolutely no choice but to think about the role the fingers play in placing the ball where you want it to go.

Your thumb, index and middle finger is your steering wheel if you want to develop pinpoint accuracy.:)

Try it. It works.

But then again, I'm just an old pitcher.


Winning Fast Pitch Softball
 
Sep 29, 2008
1,268
38
Northeast Ohio
Thanks. There are several things to try here. I will share with her the post about raising the bar so that she will see someone elses perspective and exagerating her approach when working on specific targets and goals. I'll try the wiffle suggested by Hal just because that will be so different it may really change her feel, then I'll look at some of the other suggestions. If we aren't having success in a few weeks I'll get a video up here. Thanks.
 
Sep 29, 2008
1,268
38
Northeast Ohio
So far so good. Worked with the whiffle for about 15 minutes and just like halskinner said when we went back to a regular ball, everything bounced. After that for two straight practices just worked quadrants. This Sunday had best outing in a long time over 4 innings. Hitting spots, pitches down, ahead in the count, good velocity. Muscle memory is a strange thing. A good start. Thanks for the tips. Anyone have anything additional to assure we keep moving foreward and minimize setbacks?
 

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