Tips to help pitcher find balance

Welcome to Discuss Fastpitch

Your FREE Account is waiting to the Best Softball Community on the Web.

Jun 23, 2020
9
3
Short history: DD is a first-year 14u pitcher. She's had decent success at every level, yet as a gifted kid with some general anxiety and perfectionist tendencies, she's always needed to work on her mental game. For instance, during her first year in 10u, a much larger batter hit her with a line drive...for a month, every big kid saw nothing but 4 non-competitive pitches. Also, we had to block USSSA from our devices because she would scout teams' records in advance of tournaments and have a defeatist mentality against any "good" teams.

Some natural maturation and a few sessions with a local sports psychologist worked out most of these issues--so much that she is now considering a career in sports psychology. She's embraced working on her mental approach. Throughout 12u she was a pretty dominant pitcher and confidence issues seemed to have been worked out.

Due to the success her B team had in 12u, her coach looked for more challenging tournaments in 14u (mix of opens/As). First tournament two weeks ago went very well...3-0; my daughter had two stellar outings (24 Ks, 2 walks, 1 run, etc). However, they were against teams that we've beaten in the past.

Coach picked up two scrimmages against National A teams before the next tournament. Different story from my daughter pitching-wise: 50% or more of her pitches were way up, enough that they stopped swinging at her rise ball entirerly. Pitches she kept down were often swings/misses. Combined, she finished with as many walks as strikeouts in both outings (5/5 in 2 innings, and 8/8 in 4). During warms ups, lessons, and practice everything looked fine.

When I asked her afterward what was up, she said she felt she needed to throw harder to get these "better" hitters out. She said she was trying to max out every pitch. Looking at some video, she was definitely overstriding and getting her release way out in front of her body.

So it seems to me that she's gone from being scared of throwing to big hitters to being overly aggressive. I guess both speak to a lack of confidence, though flight has turned to fight.

TLDR: 14 yo pitcher used to lose command due to fear, now is too amped up and aggressive.

Any tips we can use to help her find her balance? Thanks in advance!
 

sjw62000

just cleaning the dugout
Sep 1, 2018
92
18
North Carolina
My 2 cents as a "bucket dad" and JUCO coach: with varying degrees of success, I tell my DD and my pitchers to pitch the pitch, not the batter.

What does that mean? Sometimes pitchers are pitching batter-to-batter, not pitch-to-pitch. As I said, I've found some success getting pitchers to think about making a good pitch, hitting the spot, getting the spin, etc. Rather than thinking about the AB as a whole.

Finally, it's worth mentioning to pitchers that often times they have to be "the calm in the storm" for their team.

Sorry for being a bit long winded.

Sent from my SM-G981V using Tapatalk
 
Jun 23, 2020
9
3
My 2 cents as a "bucket dad" and JUCO coach: with varying degrees of success, I tell my DD and my pitchers to pitch the pitch, not the batter.

What does that mean? Sometimes pitchers are pitching batter-to-batter, not pitch-to-pitch. As I said, I've found some success getting pitchers to think about making a good pitch, hitting the spot, getting the spin, etc. Rather than thinking about the AB as a whole.

Finally, it's worth mentioning to pitchers that often times they have to be "the calm in the storm" for their team.

Sorry for being a bit long winded.

Sent from my SM-G981V using Tapatalk
That's great advice, and actually similar to something the sports psych had said to her: "There are no counts, just 100-ish opportunities to do something well."

The calm in a storm is great advice too. We watched a little of the game...her body language was not good, especially considering that she is a team leader.

Thanks for the reminders...I'll show her your post...often if someone other than dad says it, it lands better :)
 

RADcatcher

Possibilities & Opportunities!
Dec 13, 2019
6,124
113
California
Due to the success her B team had in 12u, her coach looked for more challenging tournaments in 14u (mix of opens/As). First tournament two weeks ago went very well...3-0; my daughter had two stellar outings (24 Ks, 2 walks, 1 run, etc). However, they were against teams that we've beaten in the past.

Coach picked up two scrimmages against National A teams before the next tournament. Different story
Well-written detailed post!

Appears she went from a 12B team competitive level to a much larger jump to go play 14UA teams.

Especially being though she has been working on her mental part of the game. That combined with her determination of spirit in her aggressive application created against a 14U A team (a giant adversary)
she seems to have tried to overcompensate for.

Sort of a perfect storm to over'do it
either mentally or physically. Both.

Consider not over-thinking this so much. And be more realistic about the competitive level she should be playing against.

Since it appears you are paying attention.
A balanced plan toward appropriate level of competition is best in the long run. (there's a big difference between 12uB and 14uA)
Like experiences to go play greater competition, think are great.
But we need to have a realistic understanding of our goal in those moments.
*Control of location and mix in speeds will do better against upper talent levels as opposed to speed only.
 
Last edited:
Dec 10, 2015
728
43
Chautauqua County
I tell pitchers at this age and level that they have only one job - pitch the ball at the speed you want to the spot you want. That's it. Repeat on every pitch. To me, that is how pitchers gain confidence and mental toughness.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
6,887
113
Dallas, Texas
This is an odd post...seems like OP is looking for unicorns.

The kid is over-striding, which is a fairly common when kids start maturing. Work on control...not throwing slower.

As to the mental side... it seems like she is maturing there as well. She has learned to attack hitters

Pitchers should put 100% effort into each pitch (pitchers, of course, have to change speeds). That is what she is doing.
 
Jun 19, 2020
19
3
This is an odd post...seems like OP is looking for unicorns.

The kid is over-striding, which is a fairly common when kids start maturing. Work on control...not throwing slower.

As to the mental side... it seems like she is maturing there as well. She has learned to attack hitters

Pitchers should put 100% effort into each pitch (pitchers, of course, have to change speeds). That is what she is doing.
I agree with Sluggers. DD was almost exactly like your daughter early on and then built up to attack hitters. We learned to practice with the same mentality. It works for her to this day. We have always played the toughest competition so we didn't have to adjust form that standpoint. DD will always tell me I am going after EM!! And your DD must have a reliable change she can throw on any count!
 
Jun 23, 2020
9
3
This is an odd post...seems like OP is looking for unicorns.

The kid is over-striding, which is a fairly common when kids start maturing. Work on control...not throwing slower.

As to the mental side... it seems like she is maturing there as well. She has learned to attack hitters

Pitchers should put 100% effort into each pitch (pitchers, of course, have to change speeds). That is what she is doing.
Thanks. I'm not sure what the unicorn comment means, but I appreciate your help. We chalked it up to issues with her mental game due to the fact that her control seems to be the worst at the start of games (when she's most amped-up) and against more "prestigious" teams; and her history of anxiety, both in and out of softball.

At a more recent tournament she again had control issues in her first game, but went on to throw a no-hitter (with some walks) and a 1-run complete game in the same tournament.

Any drills you recommend for working on control?
 

Staff online

Forum statistics

Threads
40,553
Messages
632,111
Members
19,773
Latest member
Softballmom823
Top