We get a lot of emails from parents of pitchers, especially those just starting out in 10 and 12U.
Many parents are on teams where they are concerned that their daughter is not getting enough mound time.
Or they are on a team that has 3-5 pitchers, and they don’t like or agree with the pitching rotation. There are a lot of parents out there who really believe that their daughter should be pitching every inning, every game. (Especially if she is going to get into college as the next Jennie Finch, right?)
So today, we offer you some point blank perspective about softball mound time.
There are a lot of schools of thoughts when it comes to fast-pitch pitching. Many people will tell you that the it is a ‘natural motion’ unlike that of a baseball player – and that girls do not suffer as many injuries as the boys playing baseball.
And you have a lot of newer research that says girls are susceptible to the same types of injuries as baseball players are. While in baseball, boys have pitch counts and can only throw certain amount of pitches before being pulled becomes mandatory – softball players do not. (YET)
So to say the least, it is confusing for parents of pitchers.
On one hand you have tons of people telling you that your daughter needs to pitch in games as much as possible to get better. And on the other, you will have an article like this.
Even so, It truly distresses us when we hear about young girls being utilized as pitch horses on their teams – where they are the only pitcher and they throw 3-6 games on any given tournament weekend.
For a 10 or 12 or even 14 year old, you may think it is building their stamina, and improving their ability to pitch. But the harsh reality is that it is also putting quite a bit (meaning A LOT) of strain on their young and growing bodies.As the day goes on, and a pitcher becomes tired – pitching mechanics (the fundamentals of pitching) suffer greatly and a young athlete will actually put strain on their body that can lead to major injuries later in life.
Suffice it to say, that today – there are far too many 18 and 20 year olds walking around with inujries normally saved for middle age, because they have been forced to and encouraged to over use their bodies as young athletes.
And listen, by the time (meaning age) IT REALLY COUNTS, for your daughter to be pitching well and playing well, when you really should be thinking about college ball or competitive travel – they may be suffering from stress injuries due to flat out over use.
Which to be frank is due to parent and coaching IRRESPONSIBILITY! If your coach is pitching your daughter every game every inning during a tournament, he is doing more harm than good. And parents have to start standing up to this behavior, rather than feeling proud or accomplished, because their daughter is getting all the attention and mound time.
We often fail to realize that fastpitch softball has become a year round sport. This means that young girls are more than ever, reporting injuries due to over use. We are not allowing our children’s bodies to have the breaks that they need to repair and heal. Girls are focusing on ONE SPORT too early in their lives, under the veil of college scholarships and pressure from sports recruiting and parental competition.
And when the ‘off season’ does come, instead of a pitcher taking a break – a young pitcher starts working even harder! So there is no rest for the weary.
It is also VERY important to realize and remember (and parents of young players don’t believe this but we promise it’s true) that the vast majority of kids who start out as pitchers – don’t make it to the high school or college level or competitive travel arena as pitchers. Your 10 or 12 year old stud of a pitcher may not be a stud when she gets older.Whether its injury, physical ability, burnout or something else – as girls get older fewer and fewer ‘want’ to and are able to pitch well.
So if your daughter is on the bump every game, every inning, and she is not learning other positions – then you are actually doing her a great disservice.
We have discussed this many times before – young girls should not be PIGEON HOLED to one position or one sport so young! We have to STOP this thinking that we mold kids into athletes at the age of 11.
Additionally, there is an emotional aspect of over pitching involved. Mental toughness is gained through experience. There is a great deal of pressure involved in pitching. Pitchers suffer high levels of burnouts. If your daughter is on a TEAM, where there are other girls who can pitch when she’s having an ‘off day’ it is actually good for her confidence. It helps her to be able to relax, and doesn’t force her to ‘perform’ every weekend. Fastpitch is a TEAM SPORT! Good quality teams will have several pitchers on their roster – and that doesn’t mean that they feel your daughter is not good enough (so stop taking it personal) – it just simply shows that that the coaches respect the physical, mental and emotional repercussions that over pitching WILL cause over time.