Inner Circle

How to Make the Most Out of Pitching Practice

To be successful, pitcher’s must practice their craft on their own time. The pitchers who put in the additional time and practice will set themselves apart from others as they make their way through the age groups. Pitchers don’t always need a catcher behind the plate to have a productive pitching workout or practice. In times where catchers are scarce, pitchers can get creative on their own. Catch nets are a common tool for pitchers to pitch into at home, in the garage, or in the backyard depending on the time of year.

Pitching practice is the perfect time for pitchers to break down their pitch into drill form. Breaking the full pitch down to specific drills will target the muscle memory and form of the pitch. It’s important that pitchers focus on every single rep to build muscle memory. When pitchers space out and go through the motions, a bad habit will likely develop. Bad habits are a pitcher’s worst nightmare and often occur, especially in game settings. Most pitchers, even at the elite levels, will always spend the time to break down their pitch to limit the bad habits.

Pitchers do not need a catcher to complete drills. The only materials a pitcher needs are a net to throw into, a bucket of balls, and a powerline. The powerline is the imaginary line that runs from the center of the pitcher’s mound and continues to the middle of home plate. This line is an excellent reference tool for form, and each drill should be executed on the powerline. The powerline can be drawn in the dirt, painted in the grass, or pitchers who practice inside can use tape or a pitching mat that is equipped with a mound and a powerline already attached. Pitchers who take advantage of their drills will maintain form and increase spin on their pitches. Keep in mind that good form and tight spin will lead to speed and movement on the pitch.

Aside from drills, pitching practice can also include throwing full pitches. Again, a catcher does not always need to be present for a pitcher to have a successful workout. Pitching practice and getting in quality reps will condition the pitcher’s arm. Pay attention to your pitchers throwing speed at the start of the season and the end. Many would think that a pitcher would slow down by the end of the long and often tedious season. This may be the case if the mechanics break down, but most pitchers will throw harder at the end of the season. This is because the pitcher has conditioned her arm by throwing multiple games in a day on the busy tournament weekends, in league play, and in team/individual practice.

Keeping the pitching arm conditioned will limit the soreness of the pitcher after a long tournament weekend because the arm is in shape. Once a pitcher gets into the season and is throwing in games, it’s important that parents and coaches have open communication with the pitcher about practices. If the pitcher is throwing the majority of the innings on weekends, she probably doesn’t need to throw her full motion in practice. The pitcher would benefit from breaking her pitch and motion down one or two days a week to focus on form and spin.

Pitchers don’t need a catcher behind the plate to have a productive and successful pitching practice. Pitchers also don’t need to throw from their full pitching distance. That’s where the convenience of catching nets come in handy. When space is limited, pitchers can do all of their drills from a stationary position. A pitcher only needs about eight to 10 feet away from the net, depending on the age and the stride of the pitcher, to be able to execute a full pitch. If a pitcher is able to throw from full distance into a net, she can get creative and set up a ball on a tee to work on accuracy. Challenge the pitcher to hit the ball off the tee and set a goal of how many time she can knock off the ball before the bucket of balls run out. If a pitcher is throwing a changeup or a drop ball, set up two tees and attach a string or a piece of electrical tape to each tee and challenge the pitcher to make the ball land or drop below the tape.

There are many ways a pitcher can get creative and keep the attention span during individual practices. The pitchers who put in the additional work will set themselves apart on game days and throughout the rest of their softball pitching career.

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