4 Tips for Beginning Softball Pitchers (and for coaches and parents!)
#1 Encouragement - Beginning softball pitchers and often their parents and coaches expect too much too soon. That leads to a very short pitching career. When working with your beginning softball pitchers, it is important that you give them positive feedback. Trust me, they are trying to please you!!! However, that doesn’t mean to constantly tell them how awesome they are when they aren’t yet. Try to pick out the positive in every pitch (ex: spin, aggressive stride, arm plane, etc.) However, be sure to constructively let them know what they need to work on to improve. Do not try to pick out every weakness. Pick one aspect and try to improve that before focusing on something else. If you pick apart every pitch that she throws, she will feel frustrated and give up quickly.
#2 Consistent Mechanics - One of the biggest mistakes you can make with beginning pitchers is trying to force them to throw strikes too early in the learning process. Remind yourself that many beginning softball pitchers are very young (8-10 years old) when they start this journey and haven’t developed the motor skills required to handle all aspects of this very complex skill of windmill pitching. Often, to please their coaches and parents, pitchers will create unorthodox movements to simply get the ball across the plate. While she may find a way to accomplish this when someone yells out to her “slow down and throw a strike,” it’s doesn’t help to create the dominant pitcher that ultimately, she wishes to become.
#3 Give It Time - Learning to pitch is a journey. It takes years to master the technique. To develop consistent mechanics and accuracy, it takes many repetitions to perfect that arm circle, whip, and release point (not to mention the footwork). Pitching is a long process that is not developed in a day, week, month, or even year. Time is necessary to achieve the mechanics to build a solid foundation and throw consistent strikes. As mechanics improve, so will everything else. Patience is key to becoming a successful pitcher.
#4 Practice with a Purpose - Remember that line saying, “As mechanics improve, so will everything else?” Just throwing hundreds of pitches does not make beginning softball pitchers better. All pitchers must practice with a purpose and be willing to adjust throughout their careers. Practice makes permanent, and if a pitcher practices with poor mechanics, then that’s exactly what she can expect come game time. Although beginning softball pitchers need lots of repetitions, it is important that the repetitions are done with good mechanics. It is imperative that beginning softball pitchers spend time rehearsing and doing airthroughs in the mirror to practice the correct mechanics. Don’t settle for mediocre. To be the best, you must have desire and dedication!