Pitching. Pitchers. Softball Pitchers. What we have found is that pitchers are a tenacious bunch of girls.
They tend to be the perfectionists, the “OCD kids”, the able to withstand great pressure but also put THEMSELVES under great pressure kiddos. Above so many things, we have found that there is one common thread of successful softball pitchers.
Pitchers are hard workers, thinkers, determined, they desire to be the best, are DETAIL oriented…
And really, it makes sense that ‘that’ type of personality would naturally make a good pitcher.
Pitching is one of the only positions on the field where you get immediate and CONSTANT feedback from performance.
Think about it…NO OTHER PLAYERS are held accountable for their performance every second of the defensive game like pitchers are.
Because of this perfectionism, this OCD, this repetitive consistency that is required of them – what so many kids that pitch struggle with is the ability to adjust.
When a girl starts out pitching in the younger age groups (Below 12U), the pitching can come easy – especially since the batters are less experienced. You can have a girl with a good fast-ball that is able to keep every batter honest with her speed alone, not having to worry too much about location, spin or accuracy. Younger batters are more likely to swing at a high ball.
But then as the pitcher grows older, learns more pitches, more locations – the reality hits that the fast-ball will never be fast enough. They have to learn to change speeds, they have to realize that their opponents are going to hit.
We find that during this transition time is where the pitchers of the future are made and lost.
Some girls will just give it up, and others will excel because softball pitching becomes much more than just throwing strikes.
And the ones that succeed, realize that they have to be flexible. They have to adjust!! Adjust their training. Adjust their speed. And most of all ADJUST THEIR MINDSET!
Pitchers MUST learn that they have to be flexible, and be able to adjust at a moments notice. If doing the same thing over and over again is not working, they have to be able to quickly, and with confidence….ADJUST!
They have to adjust to the style of every team they play.
They have to be able to adjust to every coach that coaches them.
They have to adjust to being hit harder and more often.
They have to be able and willing to adjust to the umpires strike zone. A pitcher may not like it, but it is what it is, and the bottom line is you have to adjust to what every umpire is calling.
They have to adjust to pitch calling.
They have to adjust to catchers, and the defense behind them – drawing on boths strengths and weaknesses.
They have to adjust their pitching dynamic as they move into older age groups, sometimes reinventing the ‘type’ of pitcher they are altogether.
They have to adjust to a different pitching rubber (and trench) each time they step onto a new field to play.
They have to adjust to different balls, with different seams, in different weather conditions.
In other words, to be successful at pitching, these kids must learn to master the art of perfectionism with flexibility, and constantly be willing and able to adjust.
The good news is that with maturity, POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, and practice – the ability to remain flexible come game time gets easier and easier as they get older. And, its important that we as parents, coaches, mentors, instructors, teammates and fans help our pitcher develop the mental toughness that enables them to break from their element of precision to simply just ‘go with the flow!’