There are certain things we take as hard gospel about pitching, and we think of them as truths since they have been handed down over the years.
At the recent Pitching Summit, we took on some common myths about pitching, and you may be surprised at the answers!
This past week we held our 6th Annual Pitching Summit virtually. We had over 145 coaches attend the Summit, listening to Beth Torina from LSU, Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro from the University of Alabama and Taryne Mowatt-McKinney from the University of Arizona all talk about Pitch Calling.
While the topic was the same, this format allowed us to hear three totally different approaches to how each of these extremely successful coaches Call Pitches.
And while the amount of information they shared was incredible, it was the 3 polls we took that I want to focus on in this article. Knowing we had such a great collection of coaches from all levels of play including college, high school and travelball, it was a great opportunity to hear what everyone thought about 3 very common pitching beliefs.
We asked our attendees 3 simple questions, and the answers are very important to what we should emphasize when teaching pitching to younger players. (As a Note – anytime I say “younger pitchers” I’m referring to any pitcher younger than college) Our audience was made up of 79% college coaches and 21% Travel Ball, High School and Private Pitching Instructors. We also had 6 NCAA Division I National Championships within the audience so when you read the following questions, consider that the answers are coming from coaches that have succeeded at the highest level.
Poll Questions #1 – Rank the following In Order of Importance to You:
What This Means: To me, this blows away the most commonly asked question I hear youth coaches ask – “how fast does she throw?” I’ve heard coaches tell young pitchers that they’ve got to throw over 60 or no college coach will look at her – and yet these numbers clearly dispel that myth. With college coaches making up almost 80% of the coaches that took this poll it’s obvious that teaching your pitchers to locate their pitches and having command of the strike zone is the most important thing you can do to help them!
Poll Questions #2 – The BEST Pitchers I’ve Ever Coached Used How Many Different Types of Pitches in Games (NOTE: The Change Up is a Pitch):
What This Means: This is THE BIGGEST mistake I see young pitchers and their coaches make – they have too many pitches. These answers show that the majority of the best pitchers used 3 or less pitches! 3, not 7! In fact, if you simply add 1 more pitch the percentage jumps to a staggering 97% of the best pitchers used 4 pitches or less! We need to do a much better job of helping our young pitchers work to master a few pitches rather than be very average at a whole lot of pitches. More isn’t better. The number of pitches you have isn’t even the right question. The best question to ask your pitchers is when you’re behind in the count, how many pitches can you throw for an unhittable strike? Less is more.
Poll Questions #3 – When Do Your Pitchers Throw Fastballs:
What This Means: Here’s THE BIGGEST pitching fallacy blown out of the water – pitchers, really good Division I college pitchers throw fastballs in practice, in the bullpen and IN GAMES! This answer is overwhelming with 81% answering bullpen and games. We do our young pitchers such a disservice telling them to stop throwing fastballs because they’re too advanced for that. Somewhere along the line the fastball in softball has become completely misunderstood. Fastballs are no more vulnerable to being hit than any other pitch. Consider your current pitchers – how many times has their best movement pitch been hit hard, and yet you continue to call that pitch. Fastballs don’t get hit because they stay straight. In fact, the better the pitcher the more effective this pitch is. It will be the pitcher’s fastest pitch, and BECAUSE it’s straight, it’s the easiest pitch for the pitcher to control. This means the pitcher can more easily hit a very specific target with it, weakening the hitter. But she can only do that if she practices fastballs. Not the kind thrown right down the middle, but the kind of fastballs thrown to any location within the strike zone. If you’re serious about helping make your pitchers better, start encouraging them to throw their fastballs, and to practice pinpointing that pitch to any location!
If you weren’t able to sign up for the virtual Pitching Summit – don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! All the great information presented at the virtual Pitching Summit will soon be available in the Pitching and Combo Summit Vaults!
And if you love learning about pitching and want more, you’ll love the Pitching Summit Vault. The Pitching Summit Vault contains over 25 hours of video instruction and over 270 downloadable print-ready notes from the top pitching minds in the country including Beth Torina, Lonni Alameda, Melyssa Lombardi, Jen Rocha, and so many more! And we are always adding new content, free of charge to current Pitching Summit Vault Members. Become a Pitching Summit Vault member today!