It has been my pleasure to coach several great pitchers over the course of my career. Some were very hard throwers while others had great movement. The one thing they all possessed was very strong mechanics.
No pitcher should ever begin to learn “pitches” until they have mastered very good mechanics. The arm circle is the key to taking your performance in the circle to a higher level. You won’t see too many highly successful pitchers who are mechanically flawed, so learning how to make a good circle, no matter how boring, is the place that all young pitchers need to start.
Along with good mechanics, velocity should be is emphasized. Learning to throw hard is a skill that needs to be encouraged and rewarded. If we want to be average then we should continue to settle for less than our maximum.
How many kids really want to settle for average?
One of the biggest mistakes I see pitchers and coaches making is the idea of slowing down to throw strikes. I firmly believe that a pitcher should work to throw the ball as hard as they can, with good mechanics, and then learn to control the ball when thrown at maximum velocity.
Think of it this way: If I learn to throw at 75 percent and I get really good at throwing strikes, if I decide I want to work to increase my velocity, I am basically learning how to pitch all over again. If I give it the gas every time I throw it, I will learn to throw strikes at maximum effort. It may be painful at times, but I believe much less so than the alternative, which is to throw slow strikes that get mashed!!
When I sat behind the backstop recruiting, I would often get asked how hard a pitcher is throwing. I could almost always say 57 miles per hour because that is the neighborhood that almost all pitchers (15-17) max out at. There are exceptions but I would win the bet most of the time.
Now some of those same pitchers did throw faster in the bullpen or lessons, but that isn’t the point is it? What speed do you work at, on the mound, in games, is what we really need to measure.
Why do they max out there? They started to learn spinning pitches before they maximized their velocity. What’s the moral of the story? Good mechanics and throw it hard!
Remember, we play FASTpitch.
When a pitcher has progressed to the point where they have the ability to throw their fastball with their maximum velocity and consistently hit their spots they should be congratulated. They now have ONE pitch!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.