Core Training

Pitching Pointer: When to Focus on Mechanics

Learning and executing proper pitching mechanics are what will eventually set pitchers apart as they go through the different age levels in softball. The pitchers who make it to the college level and beyond are the ones who have taken the time to master the craft. Even the elite pitchers go back to basic mechanics and fundamentals of pitching in practice and warm-ups. Breaking pitches down isn’t a setback. It’s more beneficial for pitchers to practice form and develop muscle memory rather than throwing pitches full or pitching in games.

It is critical for young beginner pitchers to get in with a private instructor, participate in a beginner pitching clinic led by a pitching instructor, or watch YouTube videos conducted by a credible instructor. The beginning years of pitching are essential because muscle memory, form, and habits – good and bad development. Pitching should be simplified for beginners, and the pitch should be broken down to drill form before gearing up and throwing a full pitch.

Patience is important at the younger playing levels for pitchers, parents, coaches, and instructors. Wrist flicks may not be the most exciting drill in the world, but they are important. If pitchers go through the motions and don’t focus on each rep, especially at the wrist flick drill, they won’t develop the proper muscle memory for the release point.

Pitching warm-up drills never go away. It’s important for pitchers at all age levels to continue practicing and incorporating the beginning pitching drills into every warm up. Whether the pitcher is warming up to throw at practice or in a game, it’s critical that mechanics and form are worked on. This helps the pitcher maintain muscle memory that will carry over to full pitch.

Pitching form and mechanics deteriorate in games. If you don’t believe me, take a picture of your pitcher in game form at the beginning of the season and again at the end. Try to capture the images in the same part of the pitch, then at the end of the season compare the two images. Even the advanced and elite pitchers struggle to hold everything together through a season where they take the mound game after game.

When pitchers take the mound on game days, the only thought going through their mind should be about the pitch call or the hitter that is standing in the box. Parents and coaches need to make a note of this too and should refrain from shouting out mechanical corrections they notice from the dugout or the sidelines. If a pitcher hears a mechanical critique when she is on the mound, her focus shifts from the task at hand and it will only make the situation worse. If a mechanical adjustment is needed on a game day, encourage the pitcher to focus on the adjustment on her warm-up pitches before the inning begins, or have her throw a few practice pitches in between innings when her team is up to bat.

Pitching form and correct mechanics should always be a primary focus in warm-ups and pitching practices. The second a batter steps in the box, the pitcher’s mind should always shift to game mode. Pitchers who practice warm-up pitches on the Powerline and who take their time on each warm-up pitch, rather than rushing through to get to full pitch, will have more command over their pitches and will gain an increase in speed as they mature and develop.

Every single pitch a pitcher throws should be broken down in practice. If pitchers neglect to break down their change up and movement pitches into drill form, there is a good chance the additional pitches will eventually blend with the fastball or the pitcher will lack control. Just because a pitcher is able to throw a pitch with a different grip to the outside corner, doesn’t mean the pitch is a curveball. Each additional pitch has a different grip, snap, body positioning, and mechanical criteria that must be executed in order to work.

Think about how much time and practice it took for your pitcher to master her fastball. Each additional pitch will take just as long because it is a new pitch. Granted, as pitchers get older and can develop body control and body awareness, they may pick up on additional pitchers faster than when they were younger.

It’s critical that softball pitchers take the time in practices and warm-ups on game days to focus on rebuilding and executing proper body mechanics. Even if the drills become repetitive, try your best to focus all of your attention on each one. Put a line on the ball and try to get a perfect line on your spins every single time. The more work pitchers put in, the better the result will be on game days, and the mechanics will last longer into the season.

Fastpitch News ® (FPN) is dedicated to covering the sport of Women’s Fastpitch Softball. FPN provides news, analysis, opinions and coverage of College, High School, Professional and International Fastpitch leagues and organizations.


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