A drop is the same as a fastball to a blind horse

Calling pitches is as much an art as a science. There are all kinds of rules of thumb you can follow, but the truth is some people have a better feel for it than others.

If you have the knack for it, or have a coach or catcher who does, consider yourself very fortunate. It makes things a whole lot easier for everyone.

But what if you are a pitcher (or the parent of one) whose has someone calling pitches that just doesn’t have the talent for it? Especially the kind who calls a fastball down the middle when you’re ahead in the count thinking you’ll go for the strikeout?
If you can blow the ball by the hitters it’s not that a bad a call. But as you move up the ladder, it becomes increasingly difficult to make that fastball stand up. Give a good hitter too many looks at the plate and it’s like letting her hit against a pitching machine. Sooner or later she’s going to figure out.

So what do you do if you know the person calling pitches is making bad calls? If it’s the catcher, you can always shake her off. She may not like it, but you have to throw what you’re comfortable with. Hopefully the pitcher and catcher can talk and get on the same page.

What about if it’s a coach, though? This gets a little tougher. Hopefully you have the type of coach you can talk to. Let the coach know it’s not working and you’d like to try something else, then make the suggestion.

If you don’t have a coach who’s open to suggestions, you may have to take more drastic action. One thing you can do is substitute a peel drop for the fastball. A pitch with movement is much tougher to hit, and a peel drop pretty much looks the same as a fastball, especially from the bench. For hitters who tend to stand up as they swing it’s a great pitch, because they’ll pull the bat up and over the ball as it moves down. For hitters who can follow it down, the tendency will be to hit ground balls; hopefully your infield is up to fielding them. Either way, it’s better than watching a home run go over the fence.

Understand that this strategy is more of a last resort. You shouldn’t go changing the pitch calls on a whim. But if what’s going on just isn’t working, and your “survival” is at stake, you may need to take things into your own hands. You’ll be doing everyone involved — including the coach — a favor.


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 16, 2008, in Coaching, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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