Will adding another pitch really make your pitcher better?
Before she goes through the time & effort it takes to learn one you need to know the 4 ways it can make her better.
Pitchers constantly tell me their coach has asked them to get a new pitch, as if it’s something she can pick up on the way home from practice – like milk, or eggs. Learning and mastering a new pitch takes time, effort and frustration. All of which the pitcher is FULLY invested in, not the coach. It’s the pitcher that will be putting in the extra time it takes to learn the new pitch, deal with the frustration of trying to master the new pitch and then struggle with the ups and downs of having a new pitch.
While a coach loves having more flexibility in pitch calling, the coach is only making a casual investment in a new pitch, while the pitcher is fully invested. So as coaches, we must be more responsible when we place such a huge “ask” on our players. Not all pitchers are capable of putting in the extra work and practice time it takes to learn a new pitch, nor are they all mentally strong enough to handle the frustration that comes from a new pitch that doesn’t yet respond with the same degree of movement and control that her other, more advanced pitches do.
So before you just casually ask your pitcher to “get another pitch” you should look at the following 4 Reasons Why Adding a New Pitch Makes Sense:
- Know How It Will Make Her Better – Just because you like to call this pitch and she doesn’t have it, isn’t a good enough reason to have her go through the time & effort it will take to learn a new pitch. Be specific on exactly how this new pitch will make her a stronger, more effective pitcher.
- Makes Her Current Pitches Better – Will this new pitch make her current pitches better? Maybe not all of them, but let’s say your pitcher has a good drop, a curve, and a screw. By learning a rise ball she might be able to make her drop ball more effective. If so, then that’s a great reason to try and add this pitch.
- Attacks a Part of Zone She Can’t Attack Now – In the case of the drop, curve and screwball pitcher mentioned in #2, she doesn’t really have any pitch that she can use to attack up and away on a righty (or what would be up and in on a lefty). So adding a pitch that helps her attack this part of the zone would help this pitcher. But keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a riseball. It could be a fastball that she controls with pinpoint accuracy, or she could learn to bend her curveball up – whatever works that allows her to attack all zones against all hitters.
- Only Do It If She’ll Use It – (Effectively) – And finally, don’t ask a pitcher to go through all this work and effort if you’re never going to call or use this new pitch. And by “use it” I don’t mean just randomly calling it. I mean using it effectively either to set up stronger “out” pitches, or to setup other parts of the zone.
It’s our responsibility as coaches to teach our players the WHY behind things we ask them to do – particularly girls and women. We like knowing the WHY behind things – not so we can question them, but so that we can fully grasp the idea and help commit to it and make it work.
Remember that just because these 4 things apply to your pitcher, and she’s willing to put in the extra work, not all pitchers can learn every pitch. Use her strengths to make her strong and try and limit her weaknesses. Adding pitches for the sake of adding pitches is like having more bats just to have bats. Only get another one if it makes you better!
For more help with calling your pitcher’s game, check out the following: