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Why so much talk about pitching speed?

May 7, 2008
It seems that every dad with a novice pitcher wants to talk about speed. Mostly, they add about 10 mph to what she is really throwing. Some even own radar guns and lie about what speed it recorded.

I sat behind one recently and his 12 YO DD was consistently 41 and 42. The next time I saw him, "she was hitting 50."

It seems that the parents care more about speed then the girls. The girls never mention it to me.


Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
I think it is because speed has always fascinated people. Humans loves speed in general and in every sport. Speed is a major factor of sports dominance.

For fastpitch more specifically, I think it has to do that pitching speed is the first element that makes a pitcher dominant. If you throw hard at 10, 12 and even 14, you strike a lot of people, get a lot of recognition and you are a top pitcher.

Over the years, the impact of pitching decreases slowly as batters gets better and location and advanced pitches become more important.

However, one fact remain - pitching speed will always enhance the effectiveness of all other pitches and makes it harder to hit.

However, pitching speed alone after a certain age and skill level will get you killed as it becomes easy to hit.

My take on it.

May 7, 2008

...to be a high level pitcher, there is a certain minimum speed requirement.

If you don't think so, you are kidding yourself!

I watch as much college fastpitch as anyone and I can't think of a pitcher that throws LESS than the lower 60's...can you?

That's M U C H faster than 85% of girls will ever reach.

IMHO, the vast majority don't reach their speed potential.

Speed is important and ALWAYS will be.

You can teach a girl throwing 65mph to throw movement pitches. Can you teach a girl with good movement to throw 65mph?

May 5, 2008
Also because it is one thing that is easily quantified. You can measure it. Movement, not so much. We don't carry around a machine that tells us exactly how much our pitchers drop ball dropped or curve ball curved, etc. So to compare one pitcher's curve ball to another is a little tougher than comparing one pitcher's speed to another since with speed you can say, "This pitcher throws mid-50's, but that one over there consistently hits over 60."

You can look at two pitchers and say pitcher A is faster than pitcher B....not quite as easy to say, pitcher A has a better drop than pitcher B. Why is it "better?" Because it drops more? Because of when it drops? Because you can't tell when it's coming? There are a lot of factors that would go into determining an opinion on whether or not one pitcher's drop is better than another's and two different observers could have a two totally different assessments of the same situation. With speed, if there is a difference between the two pitchers it's more definite, pitcher A IS faster than pitcher B. No guessing, no analysis needed, just the gun. So I think part of it is just the fact that it's an aspect of pitching that's much easier to define and compare.
May 15, 2008
Cape Cod Mass.
I carry an inexpensive radar gun with me whenever I go watch games. I used to slide up behind the backstop and try to get some readings just for comparisons sake. Inevitably a coach, parent or friend would come over and ask what the pitcher's speed was. No matter what the gun showed the person asking always said something like, 'she's not on her game today' or she usually throws XX(usually 5+mph higher than I was getting). Game speed and top speed are 2 different things, it's one thing to throw high numbers in practice when you are working just on speed, it's another to do it with a batter in the box and an umpire behind the plate.
May 7, 2008
Speed is only one component...I read a lot on human kinetics, growth and body maturation, and in the 12-14 year brackets, it is central. I cringe when I hear parents emphasize speed over mechanics with a pitcher who is growing slowly. There isn't a drill or exercise or lessons that will speed up maturation. Consistent, balanced training on speed and movement. Regardless of the softball position, strong mechanics will turn my head every time. You can build on fundamentals. All focus on speed and strength could lead to serious injury, ending the child's athletic ambitions.

May 7, 2008
Thanks. You all are very logical. Something that I don't find too often in youth softball.

I teach good mechanics, hitting the spots, some speed drills and then the change up. My students are 8 through 14. All are very beginners.

I was talking to a 12s mother the other night and she wanted to know what type of pitching lessons that I teach. I said "beginners." She cut me off with "Oh, my DD isn't a beginner. She has pitched for 3 years." :) Then, her daughter proceeded to throw something with a chicken wing and no leg drive. Oh, and a big shrug of her shoulder on the release. But, those parents don't want to hear what DD is doing wrong.

Am I correct in thinking that a pitcher should be about 14 and throwing 55ish (for real) before going on to a rise or curve, etc.
May 7, 2008
Amy, it may be disputed, but that is where my daughter is and she will be 13 in August. She has a sweet change up, is learning to recognize the batters (what worked or didn't work last time, and where the batter hit it). Additionally, she learned early in the game what that particular umpire favors. She consistently throws 53 with occassional higher speed. We don't own a radar guns because there are enough other dads who do :) She just ordered Ernie's video on the Rise and Curve...


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