Daily Archives: August 18, 2009

USSSA pitching distance moving to 43 feet

This morning I received an email from USSSA announcing that, effective immediately, the pitching distance for 15U and above is now 43 feet. The decision is a reaction to the National Federation, the high school sports ruling body, moving the pitching distance to 43 feet for varsity. I have a few thoughts about this move (as you might expect).

One is kudos to USSSA for sending an announcement out directly to coaches instead of making us hunt for it on their Web site — which is what ASA typically does. Nice to see an organization actually using more modern technology to disseminate their information.

The second is amusement that high school softball is essentially dictating what summer ball does. For all the talk everyone puts out about how high school ball is a joke, it’s not as important as summer ball, blah blah blah it seems that the summer folks actually do put a priority on high school ball. Actions speak louder than words, boys and girls.

I can also see where pitching coaches (including me) are going to have some dilemmas this off-season. The key one is what distance to use when working with your pitchers. If ASA, NSA, Pony, NAFA, AFA and whatever other sanctioning bodies out there don’t follow suit, it’s going to be tough to know how to practice. There are some adjustments that need to be made going from 40 feet to 43 feet, and some pitchers adjust better than others. It’s conceivable that a pitcher will pitch a tournament one weekend from 40, the next from 43, and so on. (Or maybe even from 46 feet like my pitchers did at one tournament where the umpire didn’t know how the field had been set and assumed that the far pitching rubber was the right one.)

Of course, that dilemma already exists for high school age kids. Should a freshman practice at 40 feet, which is likely to be the frosh/JV distance, or should she assume she’s going varsity and practice at 43 feet? The longer distance doesn’t become mandatory in high school until the 2010-2011 school year, but Illinois has already adopted it for varsity. 

It’s all very confusing right now. I expect that eventually it will all be standardized, and the distance will be 43 feet from freshman/15U up for everyone. Then the 12U and 14U pitchers will get better and soon everyone will be there, except 10U pitchers who will move to 40 feet.

I say why not get it over with and just have all pitchers pitch from second base like Eddie Feigner used to? Then they won’t need to wear masks, and you’ll have fewer ground balls getting through the middle.

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