Should Pitchers Throw Batting Practice?

This is one of the most common fan questions we get in regard to pitching. It comes in several forms. The first being, “Our pitchers dont throw batting practice during team practice. Shouldn’t our team learn to hit off live pitching?” The second being, my daughter throws multiple times per week, and then at practice the coach asks her to throw batting practice to the team.” And the third being, “Whats the best way to help our girls gain confidence at the plate during practice?”

When we pose this question to our facebook page, we normally get an overwhelming response that YES the pitchers should throw in practice. And while we agree, that pitchers should get in as much practice as possible….we don’t agree that pitchers should be used as pitching machines. Which when you fundamentally ask a pitcher to throw batting practice, is exactly what you are doing.

The BEST answer, and one that we agree with the MOST as both coaches and parents of pitchers is one that Amanda Scarborough posted on her Facebook page just last week. And in case you missed it, here is her quoted answer…..and we believe it is PERFECT! For so many reasons.

Do your pitchers throw your hitters “BP”? I just got asked about this, and I knew I needed to share my opinion about this with you all.

So let’s take a second to define BP. BP – batting practice. Batting practice means hitters are supposed to be getting feel-good reps, a lot of swings and the intention for whoever is throwing BP is not necessarily to get the hitter to swing and miss.

I definitely do NOT think pitchers should throw BP, even if the pitcher is standing behind a net. I just don’t like the idea of a pitcher who is supposed to be gaining confidence, seeing the ball leave her hand and get ripped by hitters. BP is for hitters, not for pitchers.

I believe in everything a pitcher does, she should be in an atmosphere where confidence is being instilled in her. BP does not present that to a pitcher, whatsoever. I also think throwing BP can be dangerous for a pitcher and make her timid to actually go out and throw in a real game. The hitters she is throwing to will be driving the ball back up the middle, and she will need to move to get out of the way. PLUS, it just doesn’t feel good as a pitcher to see your pitches get crushed. Those pitching reps could be used for something WAY more productive.

NOW…there is a difference between a pitcher throwing BP and a pitcher Throwing “Live.” Throwing Live means that a pitcher is throwing full distance, there is usually a count involved, and the pitcher is throwing her best stuff, attempting to get the hitter out. Throwing live is one of my FAVORITE things to encourage pitchers to do. In college, our pitchers threw Live to our hitters every day.

With live at bats, a hitter may get only 2-3 at bats. Throwing Live has a different intention than throwing BP. When throwing live a pitcher is working on her pitches, working on hitting her spots, working on changing speeds and working on keeping the hitter off balance. I strongly encourage Throwing Live.

There are not very many things that I feel this strongly about in my belief. However, this definitely is important to discuss and have knowledge about in case you are confronted with it on your team.” (Amanda Scarborough)

We see many young teams and inexperienced coaches, utilizing their pitchers as ‘pitching machines.’ Even heard many say – “Just throw a fastball, just give them something to hit!” And when you consider from the pitchers perspective how much time, effort, muscle memory, patience and practice it takes to learn to NOT throw batting practice – asking a pitcher to do so….is counter productive to your team as a whole.

Additionally, it is important for coaches to truly understand HOW MUCH and HOW MANY days your pitchers are throwing. Pitchers do a lot of work outside of practice, and we cannot recommend at any level, that a pitcher THROW HARD every day of the week. Coaches MUST understand what programs and training their pitching coaches are putting them through – and parents have to be able to communicate this.Trust us, by 16-17 years old, she will be worn out. Plus, your pitchers need just as much work as other players to learning other positions, fielding ground balls, catching pop-ups, and hitting as the rest and shouldn’t be handicapped to the pitching rubber during practices for the sake of everyone else on the team.


 

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