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Fastpitch TV


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NFCA Coaching Tip of the Week

Pitching was not exactly my forte, but I love the game and I wanted to coach. As a former outfielder, I knew I had to teach other positions in order to be a successful teacher of the game. Pitching just happened to be a little challenging for me. The only thing I knew about pitching was to hit the pitch that came in my zone.

I'm not going to get into the "How To Pitch" lessons, but rather, I will give you some tips I used in my own learning process. Hopefully, this will help you gain knowledge and eventually be able to teach players the pitching mechanics.

These are the steps I followed in my learning process:

1. Watch videos. It seems like every great pitcher or pitching teacher has his/her own instructional videos available, so purchase a few and watch them over and over. This will give you some insight before you begin your hands on training.

2. Ask a lot of questions. I started asking questions to my players, coaches and peers who have more experience in pitching. A simple question to start with is to ask how to grip the ball for each particular pitch. Ask about wrist snaps, arm rotation, stride, weight shift, balance and anything that looks complicated. Then ask about different drills they were taught when they started learning to pitch. (Note: There is no time limit to this step. I'm still asking questions.) Receiving the answers to your questions may seem like a lot of information, but with time you will be able to piece it together.

3. Teach yourself how to pitch. I figured if I could teach myself to pitch with the proper mechanics, then I could teach the proper mechanics to others. I taught myself what I call three basic power phases. All the teachers who helped me had their own routines or power phases they used when teaching the mechanics, so I came up with three power phases that covered the basic areas that I understood to be important to improving my mechanics: 1. Wrist snap phase; 2. Half arm rotation phase; 3. Full arm rotation phase. I practiced these phases at least 30 minutes every day. You will need to find someone willing to catch you or, in lieu of a catcher, use a wall or a net.

Please note that when I first started throwing, I had absolutely no control. Nevertheless, I just kept snapping at my wrist and after about three months, I started gaining control. It depends on the individual. So don't give up, it will come. (Just be careful not to lose friends along the way like I did because you bruised them with wild pitches!)

4. Give private lessons. This builds confidence. I started with beginner students who just wanted to learn the basics. You learned the basics in Step 2, now teach them. Beginners need the basics. Once you become more knowledgeable and upgrade steps 1 and 2, then you can gradually start working with more advanced pitchers. This was the best learning experience. The more you talk about it, the more informative it becomes.

5. Attend pitching clinics. This step is neverending. Every opportunity I have to attend a pitching clinic, I go. I take many notes and have started a collection of all the speakers I have listened to. I found new drills and philosophies as I listened to many different speakers. This was a very effective way for me to build my own foundation. Good luck and happy pitching!