Welcome to the House of Pitching Newsletter.
I love doing clinics because it affords me an opportunity to work with a lot of people and ‘preach to the masses’. Part of what makes my clinics unique from the average “pitching clinic” is that I will demonstrate things first hand and show what, how, and why I do the things I do. Then I’ll show what happens if I don’t do those things! While it’s great to work with actual pitchers, I also spend as much (if not more) time work with and teaching the coaches/parents on how to troubleshoot problems and make corrections. SOOOOOO much of this is simple commons sense that many have just
tried to over complicate. I didn’t reinvent the wheel here or anything, I simply took out the junk that has crept it’s way into pitching and what is being taught. Having me demonstrate it first hand makes all the difference in the world. Drop me a note if you’d like to organize something in your area this fall/winter and keep checking my site to see if I’m going to be in your area! With all the subscribers to this newsletter, I’m bound to run into someone who reads the junk I write!
The High School season is in full swing now (pardon the pun) and pitching lessons thin out somewhat. Here in the Northeast USA, it’s impossible to schedule lessons with high schoolers because they almost like doctors who are on call, waiting for someone to need that emergency heart surgery. Except here, the players are on call waiting for the snow to get off the field so games can be played.
All the off season work the pitchers have done comes into play now. Those who worked the hardest for the winter months will be chomping at the bit to get out there and throw. As someone who develops as close of a bond as possible with the kids I work with, I feel like an anxious father who just hopes their kid does their best to remember all they’ve been taught. But, a sad truth is that, pitching during the winter is only a part of the equation for becoming successful. While more and more indoor training facilities are popping up here in the North, it’s just not possible to simulate a game or game situations while pitching during practices. Even in major league baseball, when pitchers ‘practice’ many times it’s in what is called a “simulated game”. Because there is just no other way to train properly. We can work on ball rotations for pitches, overall mechanics, situational pitching, strategy, troubleshooting, and a host of things but, we cannot train for the intangibles of games without actually playing in them.
Some pitchers, when pitching indoors develop a crow hop or another mechanical issue which they may not have done if they were able to pitch outside, on a real field. I am pretty liberal with pitching students who start to “crow hop” a little indoors. There is a positive and negative to be taken from that. The negative is, obviously, it’s illegal under the rules and should be corrected. But the positive is, she’s understanding that her power is coming from the waist down. In trying to use her legs and pitching indoors, there isn’t a pitching rubber to push from so, she develops the habit of hopping to compensate. A pitcher who does this indoors does not automatically develop a crow hop when she toes the rubber in a real game. So, I’m somewhat relaxed on my ‘enforcement’ of it. Naturally, we have to be careful that muscle memory doesn’t set in and the crow hop becomes a part of her
motion. But, I want her muscle memory to be trained to EXPLODE with the legs since this is where the power comes from. While I personally believe it should be allowed and pitchers should do everything in their power to get back the pitching advantage that has been stolen by Catalyst bats and Polycore balls and everything that comes along with the technology of today’s game the bottom line is, it’s illegal under the current rules. But,
So, what’s the best thing to work on in non-game situations and pitching indoors? Or, for that matter.. even pitching outdoors and just practicing! Well, the answer is pretty simple when common sense is applied. Pitchers who have been pitching for a while GENERALLY speaking are probably working on 1 of 2 things: Speed or movement. Both are big factors for any successful pitcher. However the most important element is probably #3 on everyone’s radar when it SHOULD be #1. Location, location, location.
Good hitters are not put off by speed. Most welcome it. And movement is only good if it can be controlled. What good is a riseball if you cannot keep it marginal around the strike zone? But, location on the other hand is the deadly weapon that hitters fear. In baseball, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are deadly because they can pinpoint the ball wherever they want, without tremendous speed or movement. Truly great pitchers, softball or baseball, can win games without their best stuff and without blazing speed or that extra “pop” on the ball by being able to put it wherever they want to.
An analogy can be made with this in regards to hitting. Is it better to be a power hitter or a hitter with a high average? Well, what about option #3… someone with ultra fast speed? Power hitters don’t always hit home runs. People with high averages can run into slumps or can be shut down by a good pitcher. But, speed comes to the ballpark EVERYDAY. A person with speed creates havoc for defense, even on ground balls or when walked. A pitcher who can thread a needle with the ball creates the same type havoc for even the most accomplished hitters.
Great hitters are trying to read pitchers or can sometimes guess what pitch is coming while adjusting to the speed. But, if you have the ability to throw the ball to that hitter’s weakness and make them hit your pitch, then the odds are in your favor that you’ll get them out. Remember, this is a game of percentages. The percentages go to your favor considerably when you can spot the ball at will.
I can’t think of any Hall of Fame pitcher, baseball or softball, who didn’t have pinpoint control. And I’m not sure of any future hall of famers who don’t have it either. Just like in real estate, location is the golden rule.