One of these days I’d like to have someone explain to me where this idea came from, that pitching fastpitch has 2 styles, men and women.
Every once in a while, I’ll get an email or read online somewhere about how men pitch differently than women. The emails will go on to say that you can’t teach girls the same things as boys or something like that. Now, obviously, I know there are differences in the sexes. And there is an entirely different way to go about teaching the girls and boys. But, the notion that men and women should pitch different because of their genders is one of the biggest farces I’ve ever heard of. So, I began to ask myself, where did this crazy idea and misunderstanding come from? The answer is: I have no clue.
Does anyone remember the expression “You throw like a girl?” We’ve all said it, thought it, or had someone say it TO us. But, what does it mean really? Basically it means someone who doesn’t know how to throw a ball properly. Their mechanics in throwing are awful and they look silly doing it. Like taking a right handed pitcher and making them throw left handed. It looks ridiculous. So, what happens next? The person who “throws like a girl” is taught how to throw correctly, using the shoulders, arms, legs, etc. correctly. Whether it’s a boy or a girl, we try to teach them how to throw overhand correctly, right? So, what is the difference in pitching fastpitch?
Why is it there is only one way to throw a ball overhand correctly regardless of gender but, when it comes to pitching fastpitch there are 2 ways; male and female? Now, I’m not talking about styles here, I’m talking about mechanics! Right and wrong mechanics!
The differences I’ve seen among male and female pitchers almost always begins and ends with the legs. For whatever reason, many girls are not taught how to get the most out of their legs when throwing. They are not taught the EXPLOSION off the mound and to visualize stepping on top of the catcher’s head with the stride leg. However, in the men’s game, the leg use has progressed into pitchers jumping, replanting, crowhopping, leaping, etc. The point is, they are maximizing the leg strength and power to the fullest extent. Moreover, they are not taking the power away from their bodies by snapping and following through incorrectly. Yet, when teaching girls to throw overhand, we use the same techniques as we do when teaching boys! Pointing the shoulder at the target, following through across the body, twisting the hips to get the legs to provide the power behind the ball, etc. Why can we not apply the same concept that there is right and wrong when teaching how to throw Fastpitch?
Yes, men are stronger than women and therefore throw harder in most cases. But, I really believe women’s fastpitch pitching should take note on how the men generate their power. There is a reason there are only a handful of DOMINANT pitchers in the women’s game today; they pitch like men for the most part. They explode off the mound and snap the ball with everything in their body. That is where the power and movement of men’s fastpitch comes from. It has nothing to do with our gender, it has to do with not doing the things that take the power away from us. Pitching with a locked elbow, bringing the hip and hand through together, snapping the elbow straight up instead of across the body are all things females are routinely taught and are hurting their power. And, I won’t even go into the drills many are doing daily which are teaching the muscle memory to work against the legs. The drills I refer to are the ones that isolate the shoulder. What many of them are doing is making the pitcher use the shoulder only and not teaching the arms and legs to work together. This results in a LOSS in power, which also translates into a loss of movement! Yes, there are times when drills are necessary! But, I’m a believer that drills are over used. And more importantly, they are overused while doing things that will teach bad muscle memory in other important parts of the delivery.
I absolutely disagree that we have to teach boys and girls separately. Nothing could be further from the truth.