Good LORT, we love to watch a good pitcher pitch. It’s such an emotional, and mentally draining, and physically demanding and amazingly difficult task to stand out there in the middle of the whole entire softball field, with all eyes on you, (half hoping you do well and the other half hoping you mess up) that it’s impossible NOT to be impressed by these kids who love, live and breath pitching.
Once upon a time, we had daughters that pitched (they aged out sadly). And being a pitcher parent is a pretty tough gig in and of itself. We designed this shirt for her, because we thought it was funny, and cute, and had just enough of that confidence (but not cocky) attitude that GOOD pitchers need to be successful!
But today, we want to go over just a few “pitcher problems” that we see fairly often on the softball field, most of which have to deal with the mental side of softball. And it’s just as important to work on these (maybe even more so) than your mechanics.
- Adjusting to the strike zone. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes its not consistent. Despite a supposed very clear definition of the strike zone, we all know that sometimes it’s just not there. The worst thing a pitcher can do to herself is be unable to adjust to what the umpire is calling and what he/she is not. Pitchers tend to have stubborn personalities, but we assure you that the strike zone is what the umpire is calling, and umpires are human, and the VERY best thing a pitcher can do is be flexible!
- Being more concerned about SPEED than location and spin. It really gets old hearing parents brag about how FAST their daughter can throw. Because truth be told, as a pitcher gets older, BATTERS are looking for that fastball to HIT! And the faster it comes in, the faster it goes out! A pitchers JOB is to upset timing, and develop off speed. Focus more on spin and location than speed. While a fastball will keep a batter honest, they will eventually time it and take it DEEP!
- Showing too much negative emotion in the circle. Softball is a game of momentum and emotion. A pitchers composure on the mound dictates a lot about how well (or not well) she will pitch! Rolling eyes, being visibly disgusted with not getting the calls they think they should, lowered shoulders, mumbling, crying, having an attitude with their teammates. These are all signs that a pitcher is being beaten down and typically when they start walking the bases or OVER THROWING! Pitchers have to have a short memory. It’s always about the next pitch and they have to learn to FAKE CONFIDENCE when they aren’t feeling very confident. And YOUR TEAM IS LOOKING TO YOU to be a LEADER!
- Not understanding earned and un-earned runs. Whether they are 8 or 15, they need to understand the difference. Pitchers tend to have perfectionist personalities and understanding earned and unearned runs is vital to their confidence. Because often, they may be doing everything RIGHT, and still lose a game, and it has nothing to do with their pitching.
- Not having a change-up or off speed go to pitch. Coaches would rather have a girl throw a fastball and a changeup with good location (ladders in the zone) then 5-7 different pitches that look mostly the same.
- Not communicating with coaches who are calling pitches. It’s easy to sit back and be mad because a coach has called a certain pitch that gets taken deep. But that’s part of the game. And pitchers and their coaches should have open communication together (This does not mean mommy and daddy and coaches, but the pitcher and her coach) about what is working and what isn’t and what feels good and what doesn’t.
- Taking on the princess role! So many pitcher princesses out there these days. And while we believe in confidence, we also don’t want pitchers thinking they are THE MOST IMPORTANT player on the team, or deserve special recognition constantly, or don’t have to follow the rules, or can blame their team for everything that goes wrong, or walk around like they are better than everyone else. Yuck. Barf. Because let us remind you of something – without defense and offense, you ain’t gonna win any games. So PITCH for those girls, not yourself. And we wouldn’t be honest if we didn’t mention that this attitude usually comes from the parents, who are always thinking their pitcher is too good for every team she is ever on.
- Last but not least – far too many young pitchers are focusing on pitching and nothing else. Don’t sell yourself short. As you get older, there are more and more pitchers and there will be pitchers better than you, and you need to be able to play other positions and learn to hit, and be an athletic asset on the field in multiple positions. We know it takes a lot of time to learn and perfect pitching, but always be a SOFTBALL PLAYER FIRST!
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