Your comments welcome
Every now and then I think this bears mentioning. While I own the Life in the Fastpitch Lane and get to pick the topics, this is really not intended to be a one-way street. If you have thoughts, ideas, plays, reactions to plays, etc. to share, please by all means leave comments. I am eager to hear from you. We can all learn much from one another.
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About Ken Krause
Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.
Posted on April 7, 2008, in General Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
I am interesting in finding out plays that teams have in place for specific situations, how they execute them and when. When there is a runner on third, what do they do when there is a walk or dropped 3rd strike? When do teams bring in 3rd or 1st or both on bunts? When do they fake a throw to first and and turn and throw to 3rd? Others?
I am interested in knowing when to teach girls certain pitches. I am most interested in deciding when it is time to teach a girl a riseball. What are the right circumstances for being ready to throw that pitch? Do you look for a certain spin or body movement on her fastball? What minimum speed does she need to throw her fastball to believe the riseball could be effective? Does age and strength come into play on this? What is your normal progression for teaching girls pitches – fastball, change, drop, curve, rise…does it depend on the girl? Also, can a pitcher throw both a drop and rise well or are pitchers only able to throw one or the other?
Different coaches have different philosophies on when to teach what pitches, although there are some basic standards most tend to follow. But before I get into that I will address the riseball questions.First of all, understand that the laws of physics say a ball can’t actually break upward at the plate. They’ve done the math, it’s not possible. Many still disagree because they think they’ve seen it, but every video I’ve seen — even of top pitchers — shows if anything it flattens out at the end. That being said, the conventional wisdom on a rise is you have to be throwing at least in the mid-50s. Less than that and it’s not effective, whatever it does happen to do. (I tend to think it starts out flat, then goes up, kind of the reverse of the accepted explanation, but again that’s opinion, not provable fact.) I think the key is more the hitter has to start swinging early enough that she can’t get up to it. Keep in mind that for years fastpitch hitters were taught to swing down on the ball. Swinging down coupled with a ball going up = riseball. In the past few years it’s been less effective even at the upper levels because hitters have better technique and/or have learned to recognize and lay off it.As for order of pitches, it’s generally accepted that the first pitch after a fastball is a change. Changing speeds is very effective for upsetting hitters’ timing, as long as you disguise it. Slowing down the arm is not a changeup, it’s a bad fastball.After that, most will teach a drop, including me. I teach both peel and rollover drop. Which one is taught to a particular pitcher depends on how they finish the pitch. If they naturally follow through up I tend to teach the peel. If the follow through is down, or the hand turns over, I generally teach the rollover. If things change, or they can’t seem to get the hang of the one, though, I will try the other. I used to teach the rollover to everyone, by the way. I now primarily teach the peel as it seems a bit easier to learn for most. I think the sharpest break comes off the rollover, though.From there it’s a little less clear. I tend to look at the pitcher’s tendencies before deciding on the next pitch, which will be either a curve or screw. If she tends to naturally want to step out I usually go with a screw, whereas if she wants to stride across the power line the curve will probably come more easily. But you also have to look at other factors, such as her arm and wrist motion, as well as where she tends to throw her fastball if not required to hit a location. If she throws more in, I’ll tend to work a curve so she has an outside movement pitch, and vice versa. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, though. If one doesn’t work, we try the other.Can a pitcher throw both an effective rise and drop? Sure. No reason she can’t. That being said, many struggle with one or the other. But there are plenty of others who can do both.Hope that helps.