In a perfect world, there would be a uniformed style of coaching when it came to pitchers. I think this way because there are so many different coaches out there teaching so many different things. It’s hard, very hard, to know which way will work best for a pitcher. Sadly, there is always going to be a debate on various topics regarding pitching mechanics and pitches in general. In my mind, there is clear cut right and wrong when it comes to pitching. Right and wrong mechanics. A right way to get to the top. A right way to become an elite pitcher. This philosophy is not shared by a lot of my coaching colleagues.
An example of this is the dropball. On my website in the VERY near future, I will have a clip of the contrasting styles taught with throwing the drop. In fact, I already have one clip where I talk about the mechanical differences between the “peel” and “turn over” drops. For some reason, the “turn over” drop seems to be the most popular way that young female pitchers are taught. I really cannot think of any men’s pitcher that has a successful turn over drop and uses it consistently. The fact is, the peel drop produces MUCH faster rotation on the ball and is a much more natural delivery.
Moreover, from the batters perspective, when a pitcher throws the “turn over” drop, the her pitching mechanics have to be altered to be the ball to go downward. Striding out MUCH shorter than on any other pitch AND having an entirely different follow through give the batter a distinct advantage in seeing the pitch early. The peel drop follow through looks (or should look) very, very similar to every other pitch that the pitcher can throw. Altering the mechanics of the pitcher to throw one pitch, regardless of which pitch it is, can do a lot of damage! Loss of rhythm, timing, etc. can all take place, not to mention tipping off the batter what pitch is coming. At the 10, 12 and maybe the 14 and under age groups, this may not be much of an issue. But, I’m of the belief that I should train my students how to be an ELITE pitcher from day one of training. Therefore, I show them the peel drop ONLY from the start. It is counterproductive to teach a pitcher one style, then alter it entirely later on as they progress and making them virtually have to start all over.
While doing a recent pitching clinic in Ohio, I was demonstrating the differences between the 2 drop ball styles. One of my business partners from SOFTBALLONE.COM, Cara Johnson-Hirsh, who is a former Division 1 college player, played in the Women’s Pro league, and coached 3 years of college (and is now an accomplished hitting instructor) said how she and other hitters would literally salivate while watching opposing pitchers warm up who did the “turn over drop”. Not only could they easily see the change in motion but, the velocity was considerably less.
There really is no deep dark secret when it comes to the peel drop. And while I’ve made no secret that I am totally 100% against the “fastball” that many young girls are taught, the irony is that most girl’s fastball that they are taught is, in reality, a peel drop! The difference in the pitch is simply the release point. The rotation and mechanics of the pitch are the same as 99.99999% of the “fastballs” I’ve seen. It has just simply never made any sense to me to teach someone to throw a fastball, which stays straight, when they could be throwing the drop, which changes planes. Both pitches can be thrown strikes, at corners, etc. And with the drop, even the slightest movement can be enough to keep the batter from getting a solid part of the bat on the ball.
An additional advantage of throwing the peel drop, which goes hand in hand with keeping the mechanics looking the same for all pitches, is being able to throw a LOW RISE with a great deal of success. The idea behind the low rise is for the batter to think the ball is going to drop, then it sneaks in for a strike at the knees. However, if the pitcher has entirely different mechanics for the drop, then the low rise will lose a lot of it’s effectiveness. Keep in mind, the low rise can be used as a strike but, it’s not really designed for a “go to” pitch when behind in the count. Mistakes with low rise balls lose many games! It is truly a pitch that is a compliment of the drop.
When the pitches and mechanics look the same for every pitch, (rise, drop, change up) it’s much easier to keep the batters guessing and even off balance.
Thanks to all of you who sent well wishes for the birth of my son on April 20th. Alex and his mom are doing great and keeping me up at night. Again, I want to apologize for all thecanceledd clinics and lessons I’ve had during the past little while. The final days of the pregnancy and emergency C-section birth have kept me home taking care of Mom and the little guy. I’m ready to begin scheduling clinics again, all over the country and world. I’m currently in the process of booking some clinics in Thailand, Cayman Islands, Aruba, and Mexico in addition to playing my own season schedule. So… if you or your organization is interested, please drop me a line so we can begin planning! In addition, we are shooting for an August release for my mechanics video. The girls at Softballone.com are doing an INCREDIBLE job on this, I’ve seen some footage and it is truly unlike any other video out there. I HIGHLY recommend Softballone.com for anyone wanting a professional filming/editing for college recruitment tapes, etc. You will not be disappointed! Having softball backgrounds, state of the art equipment and a tremendous amount of “know how”, Leslie and Cara know exactly what to film and how to do it for the best results.
In closing and on a personal note… as I was trying to get my son to go to sleep the other day I was thinking back to the song my mother used to sing to me:
“Hush little baby don’t say a word, Mamma’s gonna buy you a mocking bird
and if that mocking bird don’t sing, mommas gonna buy you diamond ring
and if that diamond ring don’t shine, mommas gonna buy you a diamond mine”
Now after the 3rd verse, I realized I could afford these things so I had to stop singing to him. And it dawned on me, how did we go from a Mocking bird to a Diamond mine? That’s a big jump! Moreover, why was I gonna buy a diamond ring when I could just go get the entire Diamond mine? Hmmmm, the things I think about at 3am with a baby crying!!!!!!!