Everybody’s a pitching coach

Had an interesting one last night. One of my students mentioned that her HS coach (freshman level) wants her to use a different grip than the four-seam grip I’ve had her using. He (I think it’s a he) wants her to grip the ball along the runs instead. When I asked her why he wants her to do it to see if she’d been given an explanation she wasn’t sure at first. But then she remembered he’d said it would cause the ball to tail in or out.

All well and good. If you do it right that will work. But getting the ball to move away from the plate has not been the goal so far. Getting it to go where she intends it to go has been the challenge.

You see, although she is in high school she is just now learning to pitch. She’d taken lessons from someone or other a couple of years ago, but had to stop because it was hurting her wrist. (Too much emphasis on a forced wrist snap is my guess.) In any case, she has been taking lessons sporadically for the last three months or so. Most of that time was spent getting her to learn to throw the ball straight rather than having it go way out to the right every time. It was a battle, but she has finally gotten to the point where she can throw it for a strike consistently, and actually pitched a complete game not long ago.

My priority at this point is for her to develop speed to go along with it. It’s not that we haven’t emphasized that or worked toward it, but so far she hasn’t really gotten to the point mentally where she can just let go and throw. She’s still somewhat tentative. It’s getting better, but she can certainly drive her body harder and faster.

So the bottom line is, we’re still working on some fundamental issues. Encouraging her to change her grip to one that is less reliable in its result is only going to set her back, get her frustrated, and discourage her.

What her coach isn’t taking into account by showing this grip he probably heard in a clinic or saw on the Internet is her development level. It’s very important for an inexperienced pitcher to build confidence through success. As she becomes more confident she will go harder and become even more successful. And that means keeping it simple. New pitchers don’t need a lot of variables — like a ball that randomly tails off sometimes. They need to know where the ball is going when they throw it. The two-seam grip is much more appropriate for pitchers who already have good control, not those who are hoping for it.

By the way, this particular girl has a natural drop to her basic fastball. That’s probably more worth pursuing than in and out movement anyway.

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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 15, 2009, in Coaching, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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