Another way to explain finishing the change

At our last practice I set up a station to work with pitchers. We only had 15 minutes per pitcher, so I had each pitcher select one pitch to work on in that time.

The first pitcher was Emily, and she chose the changeup. It’s been troubling her for at least a year – to the point where she really doesn’t like to throw it. Yet it’s critical to her success, so that’s what we went after.

After some warm-ups Emily threw a few. And that’s when I spotted something in her finish. I always tell pitchers to drag the ball through the release zone, and she did to an extent. But it was happening too late. So I told her to drag it starting from behind her and then all the way through.

It was a night and day difference. All of a sudden it was coming in low and slow, floating the way we like it. And, she was able to mix it in with other pitches on command.

For me, it’s one of the things that keeps teaching most interesting — finding new ways to explain the same core concepts. I’ve never thought of telling a pitcher to drag the ball that way. But that day it seemed like the right thing to do.

For you coaches out there, never stop learning or finding new ways to teach. If what you’ve always said isn’t working, find a new way to say it. The more options you have, the better you’ll be able to help your players.

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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 December 26, 2012, in Coaching, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Yes, you can tailor the instruction for the student using cues, verbal or otherwise, that may or may not match reality. In other words, any given cue can be golden any given day with any given student.

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  2. I don’t see the link for the drill?? Please provide the link again. My dd Is having the same problem..

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  3. It’s not really a drill per se. It’s more of an explanation. But I’ll see if I can shoot some video this weekend to help explain it.

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  4. My DD also has the same problem Emily had. She has struggled with the flip change release point/feel for 2 years. We even started to move on to a slow peel drop as her change up. Still experimenting. I see other girls do it better, but I think the pitch is too slow and as they get older it’s going to get hit. Not sure I get the drag idea can you get more specific?

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  5. This may help explain it. It’s another drill I came up with to help pitchers get the feeling of dragging the ball through the zone, using a swim noodle. http://youtu.be/_SmtTmo4EAo If you watch the top pitchers in college and the NPF, the difference between their fastest pitches and their changeups is roughly 15 mph. That’s what you should be getting with the backhand change. For many of the those college pitchers it’s their most effective pitch so you shouldn’t worry about it being too slow.The key is being able to throw it slow while maintaining the same arm speed as the fastball, drop, rise, etc. That’s where pitchers go wrong. They slow their arms down (either they’re taught to do that or they do it on their own) and give it away. THOSE changeups get hit hard. What your daughter should be feeling is the ball being pulled/dragged starting from just behind her back hip, then all the way out in front. Release point is near around the front leg, not at the back leg as with most other pitches. That can make a difference too. The final piece is making sure her shoulders are locked in place rather than turning as she throws. The arm and ball need to reach an end point, where the arm is pretty much fully extended and the ball comes out after that. Think of it like stumbling over a rock on the ground. Something interrupts the smooth flight of the ball, causing it to “stumble” out rather than go full speed forward. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions – and if any of these explanations help your daughter.

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  6. By the way, the pitcher in the video is moving her shoulders too much. Just watch what her hand and arm do. I didn’t notice that until after I shot it.

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  7. I’ll head to Dollar General and get me a noodle. Worth a try. Thanks

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