Choosing signals for pitches
I was having a discussion with a coach named Gail last night about the signals for her pitchers. There apparently were some inconsistencies on her team about the numbers assigned to various pitches. A couple of her pitchers come to me for lessons, and a couple go to someone else. The other pitching coach uses different numbers than Gail does for the pitches, and there were some questions about whether they should use different signals for the pitchers. This is actually more common than you might think, especially on younger teams.
In my mind, I don’t really care what numbers are assigned to various pitches by a team coach. Many of the team coaches of my students use a different numbering system than I do. That’s fine with me. I just need to know what system they use so when a student throws a pitch I know whether it did what it was supposed to do.
What I do believe is that whatever signals the team uses, they should use them for all pitchers. It’s just too confusing to have two or three sets of signals for different pitchers. A mistake will be inevitable, and since the softball gods can be cruel it will occur at the worst possible moment. If you or your catcher call for an outside pitch and the pitcher thinks it’s an inside one it’s probably going to end up at the screen.
How much do I believe this? Last the pitchers and catchers on the team I coach used a different numbering system than I use. There was confusion early in a practice game, so I told them to get together and figure it out. I believe it was the catchers who had the most input, since they call the pitches and needed to be confident in what they were calling.
Of course, that was a 16U team. If you’re not quite at that point, the head coach needs to make a decision and set the signals. That’s what Gail said she was going to do. You want everyone on board and pulling the same way. Having consistent pitch signals is one more way to do it.