Team Pitching

By Coach Fox
Although many younger players want to practice and be pitchers, few players can effectively conquer those skill requirements to be pitchers. Working with a focus, preparation, mental understanding of the position in Ladies Softball alone takes two years of practice before a player can actually pitch in a live game, all the while necessarily maintaining the critical fortitude to do so, not bending to the ever-present temptation to quit.

Boys pitching requires The Arm and The Brain, and it is never apparent which one will show up, let alone both at the same time. To assume the position of pitching is a big responsibility for the player, not to be taken casually by momentary absences of concentration. Taking the ball to the pitching rubber, softball or baseball, requires an agreement between the team, the coach and the pitcher candidate that:
  • The pitcher will concentrate on the mechanics of the position, and work to improve throughout the season, beginning to end.
  • The pitcher must understand that they will be working with the catcher on pitch location, on every pitch.
  • Pitchers must understand that the pitching position has the responsibility to back-up throws around the infield, and certainly has the responsibility to back-up 3rd base, and back-up home on plays to those bases.
  • It must be understood that the pitcher covers home on past balls, all past balls with runners on 2nd and/or 3rd base.
  • The pitcher must understand the umpire’s job, and understand how to assist the umps.
  • Pitching for a team is being a Team Leader, which means helping others to improve, play smarter, including overlooking errors behind you.
  • There are lots of traits that help a pitcher be a leader. Always thank your catcher or coach, or parent, or fan for warming-up with the pitcher. You do that by: On the last pitch of the bull-pen warm-up, jog to the catcher, and say “Thanks”.
  • This is the agreement your young pitchers must make with the team and with the coach to qualify for the pitching position, which is the center of it all.
All of the positions on the field take a combination of physical skills and mental assets. To be a rising player, as a pitcher, a player must physically have:
  • Strength: arm strength, and leg and hip strength.
  • A pitcher must be durable, bailing-hay kind of grit durable.
  • A pitcher must be coordinated / agile. Have a pitcher make a pitch, and then roll them back a bunt and see what happens when they pick up the ball and throw to first base and 2nd base – you will soon find who is agile, and who is not.
  • A pitcher must be accurate: Accurate with a consistent smooth motion, with a throw, with the mechanics of elbows and leg kicks and follow-through. Are the step and release mechanics precisely duplicated with each pitch? Is the pitcher accurate with their concepts of the game, team building, and work ethic to improve?
Add the mental requirements of the position so that your pitchers understand pitching assets from their own focus and attitude: Confidence to get through rough innings, or errors behind you. Determination to lead the team to the prize (W) that game. Work ethic, to employ the obligation to improve. Focused – no Rabbit Ears! Concentration, in unison with the catcher and coach. Manage a Winning attitude, through the game. The pitcher must be smart as they face opposing line-ups, the first, second and third times.
Knees / Shoulders / Arm Angle / Step / Nose / Hip Angle / Glove / Start-Finish / Grip / Bend / Hat / Follow-Thru / Spit: all have to work together, synchronized, creating an agile model of a pitching delivery.

The main theory of teaching “young pitchers” a proper delivery is this: Keep the body movement to a minimum from initial set-up, through delivery of the pitch, all in one elongated, coordinated motion, that doesn’t stop, or pause to aim the ball. Young bodies and minds learning to pitch, must keep the necessary mechanical issues complete, but as simple as possible, to lower the probability of an unneeded part of the motion becoming out of sync with the essential parts of the pitching motion.

Rock & Fire! Field your position! Locate your pitches!

Article 5 in this pre-season series is: Pre-Game: Routines & Mindsets