Sticking with the change

Regular Life in the Fastpitch Lane readers know that I am a huge fan of the changeup. I believe it’s essential if a pitcher is going to keep hitters off balance instead of getting comfortable in the batter’s box. The changeup is a critical pitch, even when it's not working its best.

Still, it can be tough for a pitcher to stick with it when it’s not working. If she doesn’t throw if for a strike the first time there is a temptation to just abandon it in favor of other pitches.

What’s odd is that if the other pitches don’t work she usually doesn’t abandon them. It seems peculiar to the change.

That’s what made what I observed tonight so interesting. I was watching a high school sectional game between two very good teams. The pitcher for the team I was rooting for was definitely having trouble with her change. Not just a little trouble either.

She was throwing them high – catcher has to jump up for them high. And she was throwing them low – as in rolling into the plate. In fact, I only remember her throwing one for a strike, called or swinging. Even on her best day it’s not her best pitch, but it’s usually more effective than it was today.

Yet she kept throwing it. Whether it was the pitcher, the catcher or the coach, when the situation called for a change they called it.

And darned if it didn’t help. As the hitters were getting on to her other pitches, the change would give them a different look. Even if it rolled in, it was enough to throw off the rhythm.

The team I was rooting for won. And as I recall there were only two or three well-hit balls all day. It was a great illustration of why you want to keep throwing the change, no matter what the outcome of the pitch is.

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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 June 1, 2016, in Pitching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ken, This is a great article and so timely.  We had a league game yesterday and Jenna only threw two innings but struck out 5!  I think three of those were with her change.  The opposing coach after the game commented on how nice of a change up she has!  More importantly her footwork is making progress.  It is still coming up but not nearly as much.  One of the team mom’s took some photos and it is getting closer to the ground.  Hopefully in the coming weeks/months (?) it will become habit.  In my opinion and you would be the expert, she has too much going on in her head.  Whether focusing on her drag foot or not turning the ball I believe she is thinking too much on the mound and not letting it rip.  I do think when she has confidence in her foot drag she will start throwing hard like I know she can.  It is a process and I am proud of her for tackling the challenges.  I think at her next lesson you will see improvement on the drag, definitely not perfect but progress! Quick question for you.  Someone suggested that Jenna use a drag box to help with her feet.  What is your opinion on that? Thanks,Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s great, Gary! Glad to hear the change was working so well for her. Being able to change speeds at 10U like that is a huge advantage. It will also serve her well as she gets older since she will already have experience and confidence in it.

    Glad to hear the drag foot issue is improving as well. It’s really just a matter of getting the feel for it and using her body properly. She can do it no problem when she’s just going through the motions, but she hasn’t internalized it yet with an actual pitch. At least not fully. But that will come the more she works at it.

    I’m not a fan of the drag box. It might make a cosmetic change but it won’t get to the root source of the issue. It can also restrict the foot too much. It’s ok to have a little turn in the foot as you go into launch, as long as you’re still coming up over the big toe. The drag box prevents any turn which could cause problems elsewhere.

    Looking forward to seeing the progress next week!

    Like

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