Welcome back everyone. This is my first newsletter in how long? That’s rhetorical, I know it’s been a long time. I can probably bore you all to death with the reasons I’ve put newsletters on the back burner but hopefully that is the last time I take such a long break.
One bit of news I’ll give you is, I’m thinking about taking a college job. I’m not going into specifics but if I do this it will be an SEC school and it will change the House of Pitching a lot. As the women’s game evolves more into the game of fastpitch that men play, the more people like myself will be in demand. We can throw batting practice with more speed and movement that the majority of the competition and the ability to pick pitchers can be the difference in games. Imagine a coach signaling to the hitter with a verbal cue that a changeup is coming, giving that hitter time to stay back and put it over the fence for a 1-0 win. Learning how to pick pitchers comes naturally to some and is something that needs years of practice for others. Most pitchers are pretty good at it as they know what they are looking for. So, time will tell if this happens, there’s a lot of things to factor in. So we will see.
It’s usually during the fall and winter that everyone jumps at the chance to work on a new pitch. Probably the most practiced pitch is the rise-ball. That is the Holy Grail for young pitchers and what they need the most practice on. The only problem is, if the mechanics aren’t there to make the spin correct, then you will be spinning your wheels. So it’s usually the mechanics that need fixing first and foremost.
The first thing you need to do is erase your memory of what you’ve heard on ESPN, where every pitch and pitcher is simply fantastic. Most have mechanics that have me questioning if I know the first thing about pitching because they are so…. Unique that it makes me wonder if I have a clue what pitching is all about. I can list all my own accolades from my career but, I’m not the one on ESPN doing pitching. I’m the one with Youtube videos (some pirated, some done with permission). But the fact remains everything thrown high isn’t a rise. Everything thrown outside isn’t a curve or a “drop curve”. (and lets be honest, 99% of the time a drop curve is a drop ball thrown outside. That’s about it!!!)
Erase what you have heard because true movement pitches come from the ball spin. The ball spin comes from mechanics. Incorrect mechanics means incorrect spin. I know many out there are saying “who are you to decide what’s correct mechanics and what isn’t!!??” Well, I may not be a 2 time Olympic Gold medalist but I know this much, high pitches are not rises. Low pitches are not drops, etc. And the more that B.S gets put into people’s heads from TV, the less people focus on good, quality, safe mechanics. I don’t care how badly someone wants to believe it, but pitching with the finish of the Elbow pointing straight up and the “slam the door” delivery makes it IMPOSSIBLE to put backspin on the ball for a rise. It’s not my rules. And I certainly didn’t invent the rise. But facts are facts. And this is why, when you watch the pitchers who promote this “style” of pitching do clinics, they teach 100% differently than they actually throw in games.
When there is a breakdown in mechanics, it’s unlikely you need to do a plethora of drills and finding a new coach etc. to fix the problem. In my experience both as a pitcher and a coach is that it’s simply a matter of going back to the basics. Pretend it’s your first day of lessons and you’re starting from scratch. If you have that on a video (or have one my my videos which go over the first lesson I do with students: wink wink, nudge nudge) then go back to that reference point and start over. It’s almost like resetting your computer to an earlier point if you happen to mess up said computer by downloading something malicious or screwing it up somewhere. You reset to a start point before you made your computer mistake and it should erase the problem you created.
It’s rather similar to pitching. Somewhere along the way during the season, she could’ve picked up a habit that is causing pain, bad rotation of the ball, or control problems. So, stop and reset the pitching motion back to square one. It won’t take nearly as long to get back to her old self and it should be an absolute way to identify the problem and figure out how to fix it. With me, and what I teach, the fixes are right in the basics. Then the biggest mystery will be where the “problem” originated. And it can be something simple like trying to imitate the motion of someone she saw during the season or trying to deal with giant holes in the ground by unkept fields. There’s a lot of things that can take a pitcher out of their rhythm, and sometimes getting that rhythm back can be a difficult task. But the first step is to go back to the basics. Don’t do drills that will drive you insane and possibly make matters worse. Go back to the beginning and reset everything.
Not only is this the best way to rid oneself of flaws in the delivery but, it will also reinforce correct mechanics which will make learning that elusive backspin riseball possible.
Pitching is very hard to do and some make it infinitely more complicated. I take the less is more approach. Keeping it simple will help with the success rate now and in the future.