Make no mistake about it. Pitching is a hard gig! Those girls that are brave enough to stand on the rubber and pitch have our deepest admiration. It’s amazing how some of these girls would faint at the thought of giving an oral presentation in front of 350 people – yet seem confident and content leading their team in front of 350 folks (half of which are hoping they will fail) during any given softball game.
Pitchers are brave. And have courage. And have a certain kind of mental toughness that is definitely one of a kind. And they work hard at their trade – often on ‘off days’ while their teammates are at the movies with friends.
So if you pitch – here’s to you!
Today, we want to share 5 simple facts that every pitcher must learn. The earlier they learn these things…the better off they will be in the long run. The sooner you can get your pitcher to understand the following, the easier it will be for them to shine!
1. Errors are not a reflection of your pitching! You cannot control what the people behind you do. You cannot catch the pop fly in right field, or make the catch at first, or back up the third-baseman, or force the short stop to stop a ball from getting out of the infield. Yes, it is frustrating when you are pitching and getting easy ground balls and pop flies and your team seems to be hit with the Bad News Bears Blues. The worst thing YOU can do is let their errors be contagious, or try to pitch harder or faster, or feel like YOU are not doing your job. We promise you are! Take a breathe and pitch on.
2. Batters are going to HIT! Too many young pitchers these days think that the key to winning games is strikeouts. Truth is strikeouts are boring and they root your defense. The goal, especially as a pitcher gets older, is to use their pitching and timing to work against a batter. To produce pop ups and grounders. As parents and pitching coaches and coaches – too much emphasis is put on strikeouts. The reality is that batters are going to hit and if your team is doing their job you can throw 3 pitches and be out of an inning!!! So even though its fun to strike people out, especially swinging, don’t be afraid to let a batter hit, or feel like you aren’t pitching well because they hit. Batters are going to HIT the ball.
3. You can lose a game – and still have pitched an incredible games. EARNED RUNS versus UNEARNED runs is one of the most important concepts that we can teach our pitchers!! Goes back to #1. A lot of non pitching folks don’t get this, which is just another reason it is important that our pitchers DO GET THIS! A pitcher is only responsible for her earned runs. If a team loses 12-3, with only one EARNED RUN coaches NEED to explain this concept to the team during the after the game meeting. Too often, pitchers take blame (or feel blamed) for giving up runs when the reality is the runs were not earned.
4. FASTER is not BETTER! 12U and under, a good fast ball with lots of speed will lead to successful pitching. Beyond that, no matter how fast you throw, the batters will be able to time it. Pitchers need to focus LESS on speed and more on location and movement. Learn one pitch at a time and perfect it. Being able to CHANGE SPEEDS is more important than being able to throw fast. Certainly, a good fast ball will keep your batters honest – but as you get older, a good fast ball that is flat – will eventually be taken over the FENCE. We see so many posts and comments that start with “My daughter is 12 and is throwing 57mph,” etc. Speed means NOTHING without location or movement.
5. You are going to have off days. End of story! The difference between your off day and someone else’s is that its more noticeable because you are brave enough to be standing center stage. Whether you have a bad day, or bad game or abad inning – being pulled is NOT a reflection of your total worth or talent as a pitcher. It’s just part of it. Rather than get down on yourself – give yourself a break, take a breath, and focus on the next pitch.
Pitch on GIRLS! YOU ROCK!