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velocity vs. mechanics

Apr 6, 2009
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I've got a 10-year-old daughter who started pitching about 1 1/2 years ago. In that time she's had two different pitching coaches. I was hoping you'd give me your thoughts on their two different strategies.

In a nutshell, one of them says, "velocity, velocity, velocity." Everything else will fall into place later. We've got three pitchers on my daughter's travel team who all prescribe to this doctrine.

The other pitching coach says, "mechanics, mechanics, mechanics." After you create proper mechanics, muscle memory will allow you to become more accurate. The velocity will come naturally.

Both coaches have had good results and their girls have consistently gone on to play at the collegiate level.

I will add that my daughter is probably the most accurate pitcher out of girls on her team. She throws as fast as one of them, but the other two probably throw a bit harder. I think her accuracy comes from her constant drills she works on that the other girls aren't doing. I also see her picking up speed without "trying" to throw hard. It does seem to just naturally start coming faster.

Any thoughts you have on the matter would be much appreciated.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,841
63
Dallas, Texas
The pitching "coach" who says "velocity, velocity, velocity" to any 12U pitcher should be shot. Get a list of his student who have played in college and see what level of success they really have had.

The goal is *NOT* to have a great 12U pitcher. The goal is to have a great HS and collegiate pitcher.

It is easy to teach a moderately athletic 12U girl to throw hard. It will be totally wrong of course, and when that 12U girl hits puberty, she won't be able to pitch. (Bosom and hips really destroy a kid with poor mechanics.) But, she'll have great memories to ponder as she's sitting the bench at 14.

BUT: There is some truth to the notion of "velocity, velocity, velocity". Your DD should be doing speed work--i.e., where the only point of throwing the ball is to throw the ball as hard as possible. Perhaps 10 to 15 minutes a practice session. You should sandwich the speed work between working on mechanics.
 
May 12, 2008
2,217
0
There was a study linked on a site somewhere studying this question as related to tennis serves or some such. My recollection was some surprising conclusions. I'll ask around and see if I can find it.

My opinion, once your mechanics are reasonable, intent is a big key in training. IOW, perfecting mechanics/form can only take you so far. The differences between good and great in terms of result can be so subtle as to be undetectable even on video. Ernie Parker told my DD her form was fine and prescribed windmill long toss. The long toss combines intent with immediate objective feedback. Both key factors in motor learning theory. In the end, all motor learning is trial and error. Drills, teaching, demonstrating and reinforcing "good" mechanics all and only serve to shorten the trial and error process which of course is a huge key in a short youth career. I put good in quotations in recognition of the point highlighted in this thread that there is no accepted canon of knowlege in fp concerning "good" mechanics. I suppose Werner's study would be about as close to that as we have gotten.
 
Jul 14, 2008
1,723
38
"velocity, velocity, velocity"..........

Without a doubt in my mind............Teaching velocity IS all about teaching mechanics.....

Give me a pitcher with "pure" velocity, and I'll teach her to move the ball at will......And change speeds........

You can't teach pure velocity at age 15..........Sure, you can add a few mph, NOT 10............

Also, I'll lay a 10 spot that any pitcher throwing 60+ has the mechanics to back it up.........

You simply can't throw that hard without great mechanics.......



I've got a 10-year-old daughter who started pitching about 1 1/2 years ago. In that time she's had two different pitching coaches. I was hoping you'd give me your thoughts on their two different strategies.

In a nutshell, one of them says, "velocity, velocity, velocity." Everything else will fall into place later. We've got three pitchers on my daughter's travel team who all prescribe to this doctrine.

The other pitching coach says, "mechanics, mechanics, mechanics." After you create proper mechanics, muscle memory will allow you to become more accurate. The velocity will come naturally.

Both coaches have had good results and their girls have consistently gone on to play at the collegiate level.

I will add that my daughter is probably the most accurate pitcher out of girls on her team. She throws as fast as one of them, but the other two probably throw a bit harder. I think her accuracy comes from her constant drills she works on that the other girls aren't doing. I also see her picking up speed without "trying" to throw hard. It does seem to just naturally start coming faster.

Any thoughts you have on the matter would be much appreciated.
 
Nov 1, 2008
225
0
You simply can't throw that hard without great mechanics.......
i agree with this statement. the pitches that dd throws that REALLY hurt my hand the most are the ones where her form was right. the result is a hard thrown pitch with accuracy. when she has bad form, her control AND velocity are out the window.

but when it comes to how to teach it, what i've read the most is teach them to throw hard with the best possible mechanics. they'll refine the mechanics over time and the control will come in.
 
May 9, 2008
432
0
Hartford, CT
velocity vs mechanics

We have two pitchers...
one is very strong, throws hard but is not too accurate yet....her mechanics are coming along nicely for a 12U...she will be one to watch. (pretty sure she has hit 50-52)
the other is not as strong, throws very accurately, moves the ball around the plate a lot. (my DD)(13 this month)(44-48 mph)

Another (3rd) is developing ... she throws harder / slightly faster than my DD.
But her mechanics are horrific...leaning far forward. snapping hand to touch shoulder...very tense and not accurate at all.

I am fairly new, but just watching pitchers leads me to believe that good mechanics will yield accuracy and speed (velocity will vary and genetics is a factor).

We are working on long toss and endurance ....she can pitch at 50 feet for 30minutes easily ...can pitch from a mound for 90 minutes straight without losing accuracy and only a small velocity increase....continuous throws.
She is still not using her legs enough.

She isn't going to break 5'4" and she probably will never see 60mph.
But mechanics keep improving, she will have fun through High School an maybe a nice small colege somewhere...

We've always concentrated on mechanics....my DD had never had a sore arm, shoulder or back ......
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,841
63
Dallas, Texas
My DD and I used a continuous process improvement method.

The structure of my DD's practice sessions (when there was no pitching coach, it was just must me and her) was to start out doing drills. She would then pitch until everything was perfect, focusing on mechanics.

She would then work on throwing the ball as hard as she could without "worrying" about mechanics. This would lead to her mechanics breaking down. Based upon what part of her mechanics broke down, we would do more drills to emphasize the correct way to pitch.

Then, we would go back to doing speed work. This leads to another break down, and then we would do more drills.

We did this for six years.
 
May 9, 2008
432
0
Hartford, CT
velocity versus mechanics

It does take a lot of time with focus changing on what is needed at that point in time.

Always cracks me up when Dad brings little Mary to a game and says she is a pitcher.....they practiced last weekend!

Our LL has has rules that at draft two pitchers are assigned by Pitching Manager and coaches are required to take one new pitcher from our clinics during draft picks.
In addition, no pitcher can pitch more than 7 innings in two games...forces coaches to develop newer pitchers and give them mound time.
This actually works out very well for LL in our town.

But there is always little Mary who is also a pitcher! LOL
 
May 7, 2008
110
0
Mark H. referred to a study related to tennis. I also remember the article. To paraphrase...essentially they looked at two groups of young, beginner tennis players. Group 1 was let loose to hit the ball as hard as they could and group 2 was drilled in proper mechanics with NO emphasis on hitting the ball hard. The results showed that group 1 (the hard hitters) became very successful tennis players while group 2 never really developed the requsite power needed to advance. The motor-learning theory was that hitting a tennis ball hard AND controlling where it goes are two very different skills and if you learn control first you would need to re-learn control again when you needed to hit the ball harder. Whereas hitting the ball hard first only required learning control once. Again...that's essentially the cliff notes version. This makes intuitive sense to me. Being a really good driver at 50 mph is not going to help a NASCAR driver. Two very different skills. That's my 2 cents.
 

halskinner

Banned
May 7, 2008
2,695
0
Have you ever seen a new young pitcher throw her first really fast pitch? It usually happens after working hard for awhile, going through a little frustration, working on her mechanics building speed and timing. All of a sudden she does something very unexpected; everything comes together perfectly and she pops one into the glove harder than she ever has before.

Their eyes get real big, because they had no idea they could throw THAT fast! It happens without warning, usually during a practice session, once in a great while it happens during a game.

When that moment happens, it comes as a complete surprise and normally a major shock to that young pitcher. Why? Two reasons;

1. Everything she had been fighting to do correctly, her mechanics, her timing, her accuracy, EVERYTHING,, it all clicked and it worked.

2. She threw harder than she ever had done before and she did it with less effort than she normally threw TRYING to throw harder.

Now she will stop and think to herself "What the heck just happened? What did I do differently that time from all the rest?" Nothing was different! She just threw harder! She didn't put in any extra superhuman effort, she just threw.

Here is the big kick finish; Now that she HAS thrown one that fast, she KNOWS she CAN throw that fast! Half of the young pitchers will figure this out, half will not until later.

To elaborate "1. Everything she had been fighting to do correctly, ", the key word here is 'Fighting'.

She is fighting against her own muscles thinking about her mechanics as she pitches.

Her thought process is in high gear and your muscles move much faster than your thought processes.

When she threw that really fast one, she wasnt thinking about all the stuff she normally thinks about, SHE JUST THREW,

She will do it again, maybe not the very next pitch but she WILL do it again.

How do I know that? It's a confidence issue. Now, SHE KNOWS SHE CAN THROW THAT FAST. She will not settle for anything less than that from now on.

Did I say it was a confidence issue?

That is probably what you have on your hands here, a little confidence problem.

Hal

Winning Fast Pitch Softball
 

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