Bringing pitches back down
Had an interesting one this week. I was working with a pitcher who was just coming back to lessons after a few months layoff. She was throwing hard and looking generally athletic in her movement. But every pitch was high. I don’t mean at the letters. I mean like seven to eight feet high.
We tried a few things but none seemed to work. She was not getting her elbow into the slot as she normally does, and didn’t look like she was going to find it anytime soon. Then I remembered a little something in my bag.
I have a long piece of elastic tape that I usually use for the drop ball. I’ll hook it over two tees and extend it out in front of the plate. The idea is to get the ball to travel over the tape, then drop behind or on the plate. It’s a drill I saw on an Ernie Parker video years ago.
I got the tape, hooked it into the cage where we were working, then stretched it out in front of the pitcher, about nine or 10 feet from the rubber. I told her to throw so the ball went under the tape. Sure enough, she started throwing knee-high strikes. When I took it away she went back to throwing high at first. But then she got the hang of it and didn’t need the tape anymore.
The key was the visual cue. She couldn’t feel the release point, but the visual of the tape helped her understand where it was. She found the path for her hand and arm and made the correction.
That’s the fun of coaching — finding a way to solve a problem. And now I have one more tool to use.
Similarly I have used “Jedi Mind Control” with pitchers. Similar to young Luke battling the moving laser ball with his light saber, I have the girls pitch eyes closed. “Feel the ball” is the same as “use the force”. Does this make me old? ….or young?