One of the hardest parts of coaching pitchers

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Aug 21, 2008
2,333
113
I began thinking of this when posting on the Dropball drills thread. I think one of the most challenging parts of coaching pitchers isn't what we think of first when choosing what the ACTUAL hardest part of teaching pitching is. It's more subtle in some ways. In 2 words: Peer pressure.

In 23 years of doing lessons, every crop of new students all have one common denominator: the kid's friend who's also a pitcher and sees another pitching coach has her throwing 8 pitches, while my student does not. Since kids are brutal to each other, the pitcher without 8 pitches is ridiculed and feels inferior because she doesn't know there really is no such thing as 8 pitches. But kids believe one another. If Sally tells Jane that she is being taught her 7th pitch at the 12u level, Jane is going to believe it. Jane goes home and tells mom/dad that Sally's coach is teaching her 7 pitches already. Sally's dad in many cases is also the team's coach so, pitching time isn't equally divided. But Jane and parents are led to believe that Sally is superior because of the 7 pitches and that she gets the most time in the circle. It's an absolutely vicious cycle. And a couple things really exacerbate this problem:

1. at the young levels, a pitcher who can simply throw strikes is going to get 16 K's per game simply because so many young girls are afraid to swing the bat. So, strikes turn into strike outs fast.

2. Every pitch they watch on ESPN, with those wonderful announcers, tell her that every pitch thrown is on purpose. I pitcher on TV can literally slip when throwing, the ball sails over the catcher's head, and the audience is told about a great riseball there that "just got away" from the pitcher. Or anything inside is a screwball. Everything outside is a curve. Then we start getting into the "new pitches" or the inventions of a "Scrise". Or a "crop", when it was just a dropball thrown outside.

Personally, I don't have any solutions for this problem. I tell my students up front that they won't be learning 8 pitches as I think I had a pretty ok career with 3. I encourage families to watch ESPN games with the sound OFF. I also encourage them to study and figure out the difference between good pitching and bad hitting, they are not the same thing. Although the tricky part is they can be the same. Sometimes a great pitcher can make a good hitting team look silly. But, that's always the case and knowing the difference is a path to pitching wisdom. Anyway, sorry everyone. Just needed to vent.
 
Dec 2, 2013
3,353
113
Texas
DD was a catcher. Her Freshman year in HS she was catching a pitcher and she said she has a 2 seamer, 4 seamer, fast and change. DD was like huh? After she caught her for a bit, she told her: all 4 of your pitches all look the same. I'll just call inside or outside and hope for the best.
 
Jan 22, 2011
1,580
113
When my DD was 8, a friend taught her the basics of pitching for $25 an hour. She came home from the 3rd or 4th lesson saying they had worked on four pitches that session. I took a deep breath and asked her what four pitches. She said upper left, lower left, lower right, and upper right corners of the strike zone.

She was a southpaw, and someone insists she had a great screwball in 10u. That was a legacy of her rotating her wrist slightly at times on her fastball/drop from when she was seven and I was teaching her what I thought I saw on Bill's DVD.
 
Feb 3, 2023
41
18
When my DD was 8, a friend taught her the basics of pitching for $25 an hour. She came home from the 3rd or 4th lesson saying they had worked on four pitches that session. I took a deep breath and asked her what four pitches. She said upper left, lower left, lower right, and upper right corners of the strike zone.

She was a southpaw, and someone insists she had a great screwball in 10u. That was a legacy of her rotating her wrist slightly at times on her fastball/drop from when she was seven and I was teaching her what I thought I saw on Bill's DVD.

That is the correct first four pitches to learn.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
May 16, 2016
1,007
113
Illinois
DD was a catcher. Her Freshman year in HS she was catching a pitcher and she said she has a 2 seamer, 4 seamer, fast and change. DD was like huh? After she caught her for a bit, she told her: all 4 of your pitches all look the same. I'll just call inside or outside and hope for the best.

Pretty sure I coached the same girl in travel ball. LOL. Only difference was this girl had a drop, rise, curve, screw, change, fastball. Not one them was any different from the other. This was in 11u.
 

LEsoftballdad

DFP Vendor
Jun 29, 2021
2,763
113
NY
It always amazes me when a girl, or more likely, the dad, says they have six pitches. In fact, one of my daughter's teammates told her she has "every pitch." Most MLB starters have 3-4 pitches, while relievers have 2-3, unless you're Mariano, in which case you throw the cutter 85% of the time, and they still couldn't hit it. These are grown men who've been working at this for 25 years and get paid millions of dollars a year, yet they only have three pitches. Where did they go wrong? LOL
 
Apr 14, 2022
539
63
Pretty sure I coached the same girl in travel ball. LOL. Only difference was this girl had a drop, rise, curve, screw, change, fastball. Not one them was any different from the other. This was in 11u.
I have always felt at 40’ it is almost impossible to get enough break by the hitting zone. Probably a few unicorns but most break in the 3-4’ from hitting zone to catcher.
 
Nov 26, 2010
4,777
113
Michigan
Real conversation I had (more then once)
Hey are you Nat’s dad. Yep, my dd is new girl. She also pitches. How fast does Nat pitch? I don’t know we never measure it, really because my kid throws 55. How many pitches does Nat have, because my dd has 5, a curve, a screw, rise, drop and change up. Nat has 2 a fast one and a slow one. How do you measure Nat’s performance if you don’t check her speed? By how many batters she gets out.

Other Dad walks away positive his dd will soon be #1 pitcher. He was wrong.
 
Jun 29, 2023
62
18
I've been on both sides of this debate. My daughter's coach is known for teaching too many pitches early. I hated it, my daughter basically had a mix of shitty pitches at 12u but threw pretty hard. Now at 14u she understands the spins more and has developed most of those pitches to a decent level. I'm glad she learned young.
 

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