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How many pitches should you teach?

FastpitchFan

Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
486
0
Montreal, Canada
I want your opinion.

I am often asked how many softball pitches should I teach my daughter.

I can tell you one thing: most college coaches are very very skeptical when they are being told by a parent, a coach or a pitcher than a potential recruit can throw every pitch with 2 variations for each of them!!!

Most pitchers have 1-2 great pitches, 1-2 good ones, and okay/working on it pitches for the other ones.

I have a few questions for you:

1) What are the essential pitches that a pitcher should master to be successful in college?

2) What are the first pitches you should teach to young pitchers? and in what order?

The change-up?
The drop ball?
The rise ball?

3) Should you teach all the pitches at the same time (at least work on the spin like many pitching coaches believe) or should you focus on mastering 1-2 two before you introduce new ones (like many other people believe)?

Marc
 
May 7, 2008
110
0
Marc,

If I had a young one (8-9 years old) I would start with teaching her how to THROW using the windmill motion. Not PITCH...but throw with NO regard to control or spin. I would want her to learn to use her body effectively and efficiently BEFORE allowing her to pitch in a game.

The first pitch is obviously the FB. I would want my DD to be able to throw it HARD first then learn to control it. I would also introduce the CU pretty early on.

After she was able to SPOT the FB, I would transform the FB to a PEEL DROP by simply releasing the ball ealier ala Bill Hillhouse.

We would continue to refine the CU.

At this point, if the pitcher were around 12, I would add either the SCREW or CURVE by introducing both and then picking the pitch she has a more natural feel for.

Also, I would begin working on OFF-SPEED versions of the DROP and SPIN pitch ala Hal Skinner. She needs to learn to "take a little off" so she's varying speeds as well as location.

Lastly, I would move to the RISE...I believe the pitcher needs to throw at least 55mph to have a decent rise.

There would also be an emphasis on the MENTAL side of pitching!

I believe the saying that pitching is about:

VELOCITY (speed and changes in speed)
MOVEMENT
LOCATION

and you need to be GREAT in one and good in the other two to be elite.

Examples:

Cat--Great in movement and location
Abbott--Great in velocity


Keith
 

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
8,506
48
Tucson
I have to teach control. Parents are bringing their girls to me because they are already pitching and don't know how. We don't have the luxury of giving them a couple of years of lessons and then putting them in a game. They are already in the game.

The parents are happy if DD can get it across the plate.

We work on good form.

I do not teach any other pitches until the girl is 14ish, throwing above 50, can hit her spots and has an excellent change up.

Many girls that come to me and claim to have 5 pitches, can't hit their spots and have NO change up.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,882
63
Dallas, Texas
IMHO, you need a great pitch that moves vertically--either a rise or a drop. If you don't have one of these pitches, you aren't going to make it in college at any level.

You should also know how to throw the other vertical movement pitch, but it doesn't have to be fantastic. (Note that the top 3 or 4 pitchers can throw both very well.)

You need to be able to make the ball move right to left or left to right. People call these pitches curve balls and screw balls. But they aren't like a baseball curve or screw, because they just don't move as much.

The pitcher has to be able to change speeds. My daughter didn't have a changeup, but she would change speeds on her drop or take something off of a curve or screw.

Back to the rise and drop:

It is very difficult to have both a great rise and a great drop. With a rise, you have to keep your weight back, and with a drop you have get your shoulders forward. (Again, I'm not talking about a pitch that moves 3 or 4 inches. I'm talking about a pitch that the batters swing and miss by a foot.)

One of the best things my DD's pitching coach did was help her figure out if the rise or drop would be best for her. At around 15, DD struggled with throwing a rise and couldn't seem to get it, but she always could throw a decent drop. Then, one day the coach said, "Forget the rise. You are wasting your time. Work on the drop." So, we went threw a few different methods for throwing a drop until she found the one that worked well for her. then she worked and worked and worked on the drop until it was super. (E.g., we would set up a waist high obstacle about 15 feet from the plate and lay a bucket on its side on the ground at the plate. She got where she could throw the ball so it would just miss the top of the obstacle and still put the ball in the bucket.)
 
May 7, 2008
235
0
It seems to me that my dd threw the fb and cu forever (9-12 years old) with a lot of emphasis on location. Pitching instructor added the rise ball last year (12-almost 13), and they are just beginning to look at the curve and rise (but will only throw it on occassion in a game situation until well established).

IMHO, I personally feel that when too many pitches are taught too quickly that the very basic mechanics suffer because most of the conscience is on the pitch. I could get thrown out for saying that, right??

lol,

Ang
 
Jun 17, 2008
23
0
Fond du Lac, WI
Speed first, then comes control as they will learn it with repetition and muscle memory. The next thing is Change up. then maybe a drop. They need to conquer all this before they can learn anything else. As a college player I had 4 pitches but could place them anywhere.
Fastball
Change
Drop
Screwball

Now add inside, outside, high and low to all of those and you will get a huge variation of pitches. Confidence and control are key, if all they want to do is learn more pitches they are not ready to learn more pitches.
 
Teach them EVERY pitch. Find the ones that are effective. I'm not suggesting the pitcher will be effective with every pitch, but how will you know if you don't try?

Do not be short sighted and think that you only need one great pitch. These pitchers are very very rare at the elite level. You need the pitches available to you that can handle a variety of hitters. Every hitter has a weakness----it would be a shame to not have a pitch to exploit the weakness.
I'm certain this will get a response from some old mens league pitcher/instructor that will say you only need the vericle moving pitches (drop/rise/change)-----these will be the same people who haven't watched the College World Series the last 4-5 years and are not in touch with what is effective in the womens game today.
Work on the horizontally moving pitches also---the curve and screwball have been dominating the CWS lately.

Rick Pauly
 
Jun 18, 2008
3
0
Speed first, then comes control as they will learn it with repetition and muscle memory. The next thing is Change up. then maybe a drop. They need to conquer all this before they can learn anything else. As a college player I had 4 pitches but could place them anywhere.
Fastball
Change
Drop
Screwball

Now add inside, outside, high and low to all of those and you will get a huge variation of pitches. Confidence and control are key, if all they want to do is learn more pitches they are not ready to learn more pitches.
This is good advice. You have to get that muscle memory or release point down to second nature. Everything else falls into place from there. I believe everyone has some natural movement and you should go with that strength to start with and then go from there.
Anybody that can throw a good fastball that moves for strikes, with the odd change up from the same motion, is going to have success in any league. Work on the junk pitches later.
 
May 7, 2008
442
16
DFW
Teach them all you can.

I am a proponent of teach them all you can as early as possible. Kids are like sponges. They will absorb and retain everything. If you wait until they are 13 or 14 to teach them spins for different pitches then they are behind in their development IMO.

Does it mean they can throw those pitches. No, but that doesnt mean they cant make the ball spin correctly for those pitches. Do you suppose Earl Woods told Tiger. "Son I just want you to hit it hard straight down the middle of the fairway on EVERY hole? At some point he hand to teach him a fade and a slice for holes that are not straight. I would bet he wasnt in his teens when he learned that lesson from Earl. Tiger may have turned out OK.

Pitching like golf is about controlling the flight of the ball. Doesnt matter how hard you throw it if you dont know where its going. Teach them to spin the ball. Teach them to use the same motion for EVERY pitch. Teach them that the fingers are used to create spin. Teach them to change speeds.

Then watch them become something special.

Elliott.
 
Jun 20, 2008
235
0
This all depends on the pitcher that is being taught, I have 2 and the rate they retain material is very different, as is they way each needs to practice...
 

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