College and High School softball seasons are in full swing all across the country. We have also entered into the first week of May, which means summer ball tournaments will be starting for the club ball and association players soon. Summer softball for the younger age levels is jam packed with league games, weekend tournaments, and team practices. This can be overwhelming for the new families entering the Fastpitch world for the first time. A frequently asked question by parents and coaches is how much practice should pitchers be putting in during the summer season? Let’s see what we can come up with.
Games don’t count as pitching practice. Even though pitchers are getting repetitions in during games, these are not necessarily quality reps. It is very common for pitchers to begin their summer seasons with great mechanics, this is because many spend their off-season months working with instructors and completing individual practices. When pitchers practice, they are able to focus on their body movements, mechanics, and what they feel to correct themselves and their pitch. When a batter is inserted into the equation in a game setting, a pitcher’s only focus should be on delivering the pitch to the location called and doing whatever it takes to get the batter out. Pitcher’s shouldn’t be thinking about mechanics during games, which is why it is encouraged to practice outside of games to keep up with good mechanics. If pitchers only throw in games during the summer, don’t be surprised if their mechanics fall out of whack and bad habits form.
So how much should pitchers be practicing their craft outside of games during the summer season? If your team is playing in a league double header once a week and tournaments on the weekend, with a team practice scattered in there, I would recommend pitcher’s throw at least once a week on their own. When these individual practices occur, I would encourage pitchers to work on more drills than actual pitches being thrown. Breaking down pitches and doing drills is more beneficial to instilling good mechanics than throwing full pitches. Set aside 45 minutes to an hour for this individual practice and spend the first 20 minutes on drills. Wrist flips, T’s, K’s, knee arm circles, and standing arm circles, while working on body positioning on the power line are a great way for pitchers to work on their mechanics. After the drills, have the pitcher throw 30-50 pitches for their workout. They could even wrap up with some long toss.
The summer softball season can be long and taxing, especially for pitchers. It is encouraged to rest the arm on off days. Monday would be a great day for an off day during the summer season since it follows tournaments. League games will typically take place on Tuesdays or Wednesdays with team practices on Thursdays. Thursdays or Fridays would be a great day to get an individual pitching practice in, as a tune up for the upcoming weekend tournament. Remember, drills and mechanics are more important than the number of pitches these days. If you commit to one day of pitching practice a week, it will save the mechanics and limit the bad habits from forming as the summer season goes on.