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Third pitch?

Jan 24, 2009
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10U DD can throw her fastball for a strike at will. She consistently throws the best changeup I have seen in travel ball. (matter of fact, not arrogant). We're trying to add a third pitch this offseason.

She can throw her 2 seam FB anywhere, but it does break in on RH batters. (enough that a screwball isn't needed)

Her changeup was her K pitch at 9yo and is very effective on second or third strike. This year she is turning her hand over at release for a nice changeup that curves spinning 3-9.

We're trying not to throw anything down the pipe this year. No more four seam fastballs since the 2 seam breaks...no straight changeups since it is just as easy to curve it.

Her 2 primary pitches are breaking laterally, so a third that breaks vertically would be nice. She has tried a peel drop, but more often than not she hangs this over the center of the plate with no real drop, just a slight decrease in speed which will tend to get hit hard. She has been taught a drop-curve and is quickly catching on. It doesn't always drop and curve yet , but at least does one or the other, sometimes both. Being an outside pitch at a speed exactly between her FB and Changeup seemingly makes this a perfect third pitch to master. Would you agree?


DD pitches a lot, but I think her pitch count per batter will be down this year. At most, I could see maybe 1 dropcurve per batter. Is a drop-curve safe for a 10yo to throw even if mechanics are correct. (Just because they can, doesn't mean they should.) If not, can you suggest a better third pitch ? Also, I don't plan to use a 4th or 5th pitch. I think a mastery of 3 pitches would make her more effective than the 10yo's who "have 6 pitches" but virtually always need to add one more...a strike.
Thank you!
VW
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,923
83
Dallas, Texas
My DD's former pitching coach would ask you, "So, do you want a great 12U pitcher or a great college pitcher?"

You see, women mature physically earlier than men. All women go through a physical change around 12 YOA. Among other things, the hips spread. When that happens, your DD's hips will be wider than her shoulders and she will have some other "obstacles" on her upper body to deal with. (Just Google to look at some skeletal pictures of men and women.)

When your DD goes through this physical change, she will have to adjust her pitching motion. Your goal is to minimize amount of time it will take to get through that transition so she can start working on breaking pitches in her "new" body. If she picks up bad habits now, it could be almost impossible to break those habits later.

There are many, many 12U pitchers who have terrible form and are successful pitchers. When the hips spread on those girls, their pitching ability goes out the window. They have no control and they won't be able increase her speed much above 50 MPH.

So, at your DD's age, the most important thing is to have good form, so when her hips do spread at 12 or 13, you won't have to relearn the pitching motion. You can then start working on breaking pitches "for real".

My suggestion is to start working on the rise. To throw a fastball, a pitcher has to (among other things) keep her weight back and stay open. To throw a rise, the pitcher has to keep her weight back and stay open even more than with a fastball. So, learning the rise is simply a reinforcement of the basics of pitching.

Learning a rise is much more difficult than learning a drop, but it has a bigger potential payoff. Also, it will take two years to learn, so it will keep you and her interested until the real work starts at 13YOA.

The problem with learning a drop ball is that in order to get the big break on a drop ball, the pitchers weight needs to be forward over the left foot. If she starts integrating keeping her weight forward for a drop ball into her normal fastball motion, it could be a real challenge to break her of it at 13.
 
Jan 24, 2009
617
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I should mention that while we talk about other pitches and occasionally work them, we are currently looking for a third 'game ready' pitch that she can actually throw with 60%+ command. Mark, at 9yo, we worked on a peel drop. I think maybe she didn't have the speed for it then. It ended up a slightly slower fastball down the middle at best. We noted that her 4 seam FB had more natural drop due to the spin than her 'drop' ball. And so, the dropball hasn't made it past the practice field into games, but we do work on it.

Sluggers, I appreciate your response and need to re-read it a few times to fully digest it. A couple of points I'll comment on: DD is 10 years old. She hasn't ever thrown the big ball from 40 feet. Talking college at 10 y.o. is a bit premature IMHO. As for the riseball, again we need a game ready pitch for 10U. We could work on a rise, however: the percentage of HS seniors that have an effective riseball that actually rises is probably closer to zero than 20%. With all due respect, to me teaching a 10 yo a riseball is a pipedream and probably a waste of time. We could work it in to practice sessions as a 'one of these days' pitch.

I should point out that I've seen countless kids and parents want me to look at little Sally's screwball (or insert other pitch) only to watch her throw a dozen or so pitches that are either uncatchable or plain vanilla fastballs. Most 10u pitchers/parents seem to think that knowing a grip is mastery of a pitch. I do not want to be one of those whose DD can throw a pitch 1 in 10 times and claim she 'has a <blank>ball.'

Sluggers, much of your advice takes age and development into consideration. I do need to point out that at 10yo, my daughter needs a certain amount of success. She pitched very well for a 9yo last year but she was paying her dues. She isn't thinking about college but rather how fun it is to be able to rack up the K's. We know that at 11-playing 12u she'll be back on the lower end. I'm just saying that while maybe one eye can be in the distant future, we also need a good deal of fun in the here-and-now to ensure she'll be playing the game at a later date.

Looking for a third pitch to routinely use in 10u games for now. Others are ok for practice, but I'd like her to master one additional pitch this offseason.
VW
 
May 22, 2008
351
0
NW Pennsylvania
I just ccame home from a coaches clinic where Cat O spoke. She said she basiclly throws 3 pitches-drop, rise & change. all 3 move vertically. It only makes sense that a pitch that moves laterally or a straight fastball is gonna get hit as the bat is on the plane of the ball longer.

Having said that, at 10u, if your girl has great command & decent speed on a fastball, I would work on a change that breaks down & in & perfect those 2. She should dominate pretty good with that.
 
May 12, 2008
2,217
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I disagree learning the rise before the drop. For reasons that are another thread I disagree with the common wisdom pitchers need their weight/posture forward on the drop. I think this common wisdom is why so many pitchers can't make hitters miss the pitch when they have to throw it for a strike.
 
May 12, 2008
2,217
0
I just ccame home from a coaches clinic where Cat O spoke. She said she basiclly throws 3 pitches-drop, rise & change. all 3 move vertically. It only makes sense that a pitch that moves laterally or a straight fastball is gonna get hit as the bat is on the plane of the ball longer.

Having said that, at 10u, if your girl has great command & decent speed on a fastball, I would work on a change that breaks down & in & perfect those 2. She should dominate pretty good with that.
An interesting subject. On a pitch at the top of the zone or just out, swing plane is close to level to the ground and straight backspin would make sense relative to the bat. On a middle to low pitch, the swing plane is at an angle. http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/analysis?p=1&n=1&m=20&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9 In this case a pitch breaking up and out or down and in on would be breaking directly away from the bat/swing plane. I'm told Fernandez's bread and butter pitch on rh hitters is/was a drop that broke down and in on them. As to Cat, seems to me she throws a lot more drops now relative to her rise than she did back in the day. I stand to be corrected on that since once she got to college I've only watched her on tv. Screw up with your drop, the ball is probably still in the park. Screw up with your rise and you may need a new ball. And of course, the rise is a LOT harder to learn.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,923
83
Dallas, Texas
vdubya:

The easiest way for your DD to have success at 10U and 12U is for her to pitch incorrectly. Is that what you want? If she learns to pitch incorrectly at her age, and then decides to try to pitch in HS, she will have to "unlearn" everything and start over.

She isn't going to learn a "real" breaking pitch at her age. (Parents that say there kid has a "screw-rise" at that age are idiots.) A real drop ball, e.g., is waist height about 15 feet from the plate and bounces before it gets to the catcher. If the ball isn't doing that, then it isn't a drop ball. It is just a low fast ball. (Trust me, she isn't going to get that kind of motion with a peel drop.)

She needs to work on body control, balance and wrist mobility. You work on those things by, among other things, starting to learn a breaking a pitch. She needs to start learning how to spin the ball.

You don't have as much time as you think you do. If she wants to pitch in HS, she needs to be on the varsity team her freshman year in HS.

So, she has to be ready to pitch varsity HS ball in 3 years. Remember that at 12 YOA, her body is going to change drastically. So, you are going to have one year to get her ready to pitch in HS.
 
Jan 24, 2009
617
0
""If she learns to pitch incorrectly at her age, and then decides to try to pitch in HS, she will have to "unlearn" everything and start over.""


My thinking is that if she learns to pitch incorrectly at *any* age then she will have to unlearn and start over.

This is the reason she has only used 2 pitches to date...to master mechanics and prevent injury. What I propose is to pick out one more pitch to polish into game ready form...which to me means correct mechanics first with the ball doing what it is supposed to do and all of this at >60% of attempts to be thrown in games.

By my calculations, as an older 4th grader currently, she has 5 seasons left before entering HS. This is the last year with the 11" ball. We can work other pitches, but I really would like to focus and really 'own' a third pitch that would make a significant difference this coming season.

Thanks for the insightful replies.
VW
 
Nov 6, 2008
71
0
third pitch

"I disagree learning the rise before the drop. For reasons that are another thread I disagree with the common wisdom pitchers need their weight/posture forward on the drop. I think this common wisdom is why so many pitchers can't make hitters miss the pitch when they have to throw it for a strike."

Amen. The advice to learn the rise first rests on two assumptions, both of which are false: That the rise more closely resembles proper fastball mechanics, and that the weight is forward on the drop.

Get her a knowledgable pitching coach and begin to learn the peal. If one is not available, get the Hillhouse DVD. If she is having trouble throwing it, there is something else wrong with her mechanics.
 

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