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Politics and Pitching

May 15, 2008
580
28
Cape Cod Mass.
What is one thing politics and pitching have in common? Spin.

I had my second lesson with a new student (12U). She had just finished a 4X1 hr pitching clinic on the rise and drop. at a D1 school. Her dad wanted to work a little on the change up and spin pitches. He told me that she had just learned the peel drop at the clinic and it worked great. I got out my ball on a stick and demonstrated the basics of spin. Drop, curve, rise and bullet spin, (no screwball) and the various combinations of each. I then got out my favorite tool for teaching spin, a brand new ball with nickle size black spots on it. Black spots on the new, yellow leather make it really easy to see the spin. So she throws a few fastballs to her dad, what kind of spin? Bullet, it's easy to see. I then ask her to throw a few peel drops, and what kind of spin, (drum roll please), bullet!!!!!! The dad is disappointed and I am surprised but not shocked. How does a D1 college clinic teach a spin pitch and not explain the nature of spin to the pitchers and dads?

But this is not new to me. I coached on a 14U team with a lefty who had a great curveball. Perfect side spin with good velocity and RPM, the ball broke a good 10-12 inches. Her pitching coach was a former mid-major D1 pitcher who held the school's career strike out record for several years. One day I had to warm up the lefty and after she threw me a dozen pitches with a lot of break on them I asked her if she had any other pitches. She said yes, she also threw a curve ball. Okay,,,,, So she throws me her curve and it's bullet spin!! When I saw her dad I asked him about it because I knew that he caught her regularly. He readily agreed with me. I asked him if he had told her pitching coach and what did she have to say about it. He said he had and she told him 'thanks', that was it, business as usual. When I asked the lefty how she knew the difference between the two pitches she said "I hold the curve like this and throw it like this, and I hold the fastball like this and throw it like this" demonstrating grips and hand/wrist motions.

I have a similar story involving another student and her pitching coach, a former DII pitcher who was now the pitching coach at her alma mater.

I don't understand how a pitching instructor can teach spin pitches without explaining how each pitch should spin and what the spin should look like.
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Last edited:
Aug 21, 2008
883
43
Armwhip, several things come to mind to answer your rhetorial questions about how such things can be taught. Or maybe a better definition is, how things never get corrected by these coaches.

In no particular order, first is the absolute confusion between forced movement and breaking pitches. Simply throwing it high is considered a riseball, regardless of the spin. Sideways is a curve, regardless of spin. Low is a drop, regardless of spin. The dumbing down of the game is helped immensely by ESPN announcers who seem to love hearing themselves talk, instead of worrying about how to talk intelligently. As wonderful as it is that softball is on ESPN and gets the ratings it does, these wizards do more harm than good when it comes to pitching because they make people believe in absolute rubbish.

The second thing is, far too many people confuse good pitching with bad hitting. And we can fall in love with the idea of someone being a "D1" pitcher and think she's amazing but, I'm here to tell you... not only are some D1 pitchers not very good but the hitters they face make them look fantastic. Not all D1 players are on scholarships, in fact the many of them aren't. Many are walk ons who are on the team to make up the numbers and fill in the bench. So while it's a badge of honor to say "I played D1 softball at XYZ University" there's usually more to that story. And this isn't even going into the argument about how some D1 schools do not belong playing Division one!!!!!!

Combining those 2 things: when you have ESPN telling you how amazing a curveball is because someone swung and missed, and it ended up outside and a D1 hitter with more holes in her swing than a chunk of swiss cheese, it's easy to see why the details get overlooked.

In my time in the college ranks, I've been amazed at what pitchers are not taught from the basics to playing percentages on what to throw and when. Moreover, the amount of hitters who have not been taught to hit behind the runners, etc. I think this is partly due to the nut case parents (and coaches) who are only caring about stats and numbers. I've seen girls upset when they hit a sac fly to score a run because they made an out. SERIOUSLY. They're so programed to think that getting on base is the end all, be all that they haven't been taught there is a such thing as a productive out.

It's pretty simple, if the ball is not spinning in the direction you want it to move: Its forced movement and the ball did not break. Bullet spin cannot curve, screw, rise or drop with movement.

Bill
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,969
83
Dallas, Texas
How does a D1 college clinic teach a spin pitch and not explain the nature of spin to the pitchers and dads?
Because the way breaking balls have been taught (12-6 spin for drop, 6-12 for rise, 3-9 for curve) is not the full story. There are other ways to make the ball break.

Hide speed video is destroying the way people think about breaking pitches. It is pretty clear that you can throw breaking pitches based off bullet spin. The MLB slider is an example of a bullet spin pitch. Watch the World Series. Watch the slow motion of the pitchers...you'll see bullet spin pitches thrown quite often.

As to softball, here is Rachel Garcia throwing a riseball. Note the ball label as it moves to the plate. It is clear that the ball has bullet spin. Yet, the batter swings under the ball by six inches.


Here is a video of the pitch:

 
May 15, 2008
580
28
Cape Cod Mass.
Because the way breaking balls have been taught (12-6 spin for drop, 6-12 for rise, 3-9 for curve) is not the full story. There are other ways to make the ball break.

Hide speed video is destroying the way people think about breaking pitches. It is pretty clear that you can throw breaking pitches based off bullet spin. The MLB slider is an example of a bullet spin pitch. Watch the World Series. Watch the slow motion of the pitchers...you'll see bullet spin pitches thrown quite often.

As to softball, here is Rachel Garcia throwing a riseball. Note the ball label as it moves to the plate. It is clear that the ball has bullet spin. Yet, the batter swings under the ball by six inches.


Here is a video of the pitch:


Yes there is a different way to make pitches break. But I have never heard of a bullet spin peel drop.
 
Aug 21, 2008
883
43
Because the way breaking balls have been taught (12-6 spin for drop, 6-12 for rise, 3-9 for curve) is not the full story. There are other ways to make the ball break.

Hide speed video is destroying the way people think about breaking pitches. It is pretty clear that you can throw breaking pitches based off bullet spin. The MLB slider is an example of a bullet spin pitch. Watch the World Series. Watch the slow motion of the pitchers...you'll see bullet spin pitches thrown quite often.

As to softball, here is Rachel Garcia throwing a riseball. Note the ball label as it moves to the plate. It is clear that the ball has bullet spin. Yet, the batter swings under the ball by six inches.


Here is a video of the pitch:

This is going to sound somewhat insane considering she was just put on the US Olympic team and many consider that to be one step below the Mt. Rushmore of great accomplishments. But what Ms. Garcia is throwing here is a high pitch. Not a riseball. Is it supposed to be a rise? Probably. But you cannot make a ball break without it spinning towards the intended direction. Time and Time again we've all seen posts about a pitcher who claims to have 8 pitches, all 8 spin identically and yet she puts them in 8 different places. Does that mean they are 8 different pitches? Of course not. It's 1 pitch thrown 8 different places. A RH pitcher who angles a pitch outside to a RHB is not throwing a curve, regardless of what she's been taught she's doing or where it ends up. It may still "work" and get the hitter out but that doesn't make it a curve.

Lets take baseball for example, have you ever seen a pitcher throw a curveball that he doesn't spin like a curve? No. Even the worst baseball announcers can tell the difference between a curve and an outside "fastball".

Is a bullet spin riseball difficult to hit? Apparently so. Ms. Garcia seems to get a lot of strikeouts. However throwing 70mph from 43 feet is going to make any pitch tough. This riseball shown in the clip is an example of how a ball changing planes is 10x more difficult to hit than one on the same plane (curve or the mysterious screwball). Whether you believe the rise actually goes up or it simply drops less is not relevant. Out of the pitcher's hand the ball is on an upward trajectory that changes planes and makes it hard to track.

In a perfect world, the drop will spin straight forward, the rise will spin straight backward, etc. This also helps disguise the pitch so out of the hand the batter cannot tell which way it's spinning. But if you have a straight spin drop and a bullet spin rise, your pitcher's advantage is now hampered quite a bit. And hitters will see the rotation out of the hand early. 99.999999999% of the population cannot make their rise spin 6/12, it just doesn't happen.. Even Mike White, who IS on the Mt. Rushmore of all time greats, did not have exact 6/12 spin. His was pretty darn close but not perfect. Mine is pretty darn close, but not perfect and I'm not in his category at all.

Bullet spin equals forced movement.

Bill
 
Aug 21, 2008
883
43
Marriard, we have a Rapsodo but I've not used it yet. But in all things like this, I'd be very curious who the demo model was for pitching or how they got these numbers. I'm not disputing them, Just wondering. having never used this machine, I truly have no idea.

Bill
 
May 15, 2008
580
28
Cape Cod Mass.
Great chart! Screwball spin efficiency 0-35%, by far the least of all the pitches. Average velocity more in line with what I see around me. The pitch with the most horizontal movement is the side spin change.
 
Oct 2, 2011
3,346
113
Florida
Marriard, we have a Rapsodo but I've not used it yet. But in all things like this, I'd be very curious who the demo model was for pitching or how they got these numbers. I'm not disputing them, Just wondering. having never used this machine, I truly have no idea.

Bill
DD's pitching coach has just bought one. I know a few of the local softball college programs have them as well as USSSA Pride and the customer list they shared was solid and varied and included the USA National team. The rep said they have a pretty good set of data but want more. All data is shared into the cloud so they have access if a client is willing to share.

At the moment we are trying to get it dialed in properly - right now the spin and movement info seems good and matches up with slow motion video of the pitch, but the speed info is a little off according to all the radar guns our instructor has. It may not be reading the speed at release/fastest point.

So far fairly impressed. At that price point, you need to be.
 
Dec 5, 2017
225
28
DD's pitching coach has just bought one. I know a few of the local softball college programs have them as well as USSSA Pride and the customer list they shared was solid and varied and included the USA National team. The rep said they have a pretty good set of data but want more. All data is shared into the cloud so they have access if a client is willing to share.

At the moment we are trying to get it dialed in properly - right now the spin and movement info seems good and matches up with slow motion video of the pitch, but the speed info is a little off according to all the radar guns our instructor has. It may not be reading the speed at release/fastest point.

So far fairly impressed. At that price point, you need to be.
The speed is definitely off, every parent of a 10u pitcher I meet claims 50+. Unfortunately my 10u dd is just touching 42-43 so I guess she is doomed.
 

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