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Pitching Form: What’s Right and What’s Wrong

It happens on occasion, where I’m asked or challenged why I coach things a certain way, especially when it comes to pitching and mechanics. While I'm not denying that there are different styles and ways to say and present the pitching motion (especially when it comes to certain skill and age levels) there are, however, some right and wrong ways to pitch, and coach pitching.

Wrong meaning one or both of two things: 1) the form is potentially harmful to a players body and could lead to injury and/or shortening the players career or 2) the form is not maximizing the power of the female body to leverage speed and accuracy.

Right meaning mechanics are sound, but not robotic/cookie cutter, and the pitcher is feeling what produces the most amount of power with the body she has.

The fastpitch pitching form has been put through the wringer numerous times, proving that beliefs once popular and considered correct, were actually ineffective and untrue. Things like the follow through, positioning of the drive foot both off the mound and later into the drag, being palm up at the top of the circle, opening the shoulders and hips completely, and striding to different sides of the power line. Tops players like Monica Abbott (Tenn) and Rachel Garcia (UCLA) have admitted to continuously dissecting and tweaking their pitching form to “perfect it”. Even to this day they work on it, and they are both really really good as is. There is always work to be done.

I have put a lot of effort into studying the motion and implementing ways to make sure girls are pitching correctly. I have studied my own pitching form, compared it to the top pitchers in the game today and gathered where and how improvements could have been made. I have no problem admitting that my methods and thought processes have changed, that I have been wrong with my own mechanics along my career, and I have needed to delve deeper into better ways to coach things that I personally did not do when I played. If a coach can’t try, feel, and do the things he/she is asking of their players, or at least be willing to admit there are more effective ways to throw the ball, you have to question how effective that coach really is.

All I ask from fellow coaches and parents is that we make an effort to stay current on times, and respect, recognize, celebrate, and coach to the form of those who have sound, safe, proven effective mechanics (Finch, Osterman, Abbott, Garcia, Barnhill, Scarburough). We also need be aware of and teach to the specific female body physique. Women differ greatly to males when it comes to distribution of strength in our bodies. This fact weighs heavily in the way that I design my programs for my girls and the progression we take to get maximum power out of a player’s body.

You may not like to take my word for it, so I found it ironic when this video of UCLA’s Kirk Walker explaining the pitchers attack position and having an effective hip hinge was sent to my email earlier this week from the Art of Coaching Softball weekly subscription. He explains the fact that girls are losing power by shifting their weight in any other direction than loaded low and forward to maximize the push off the mound.

He further explains the importance of keeping the shoulders back after pushing off to keep pitchers legal, which is another battle that I face on occasion with pitchers coming from different coaching backgrounds:

The clinics, the videos, the articles, and the pitchers that I have studied, have all conglomerated to form my knowledge and my style as a coach.

And from what I have gathered and listened to, I am right on.

No, it’s not all about being right all the time, but I do like being right when it comes to teaching my girls the proper pitching mechanics.

By all means ask me the questions, challenge me as to why I teach certain things, allow me to show and explain to you what I know, have experienced, or have heard straight form the mouths of top notch coaches and players.

Sometimes you may need to hear it from the ”big names” before you can get on board. I get it, but know that I am doing things the only way I know how: right. I’m not cutting corners, I’m not thinking my way is the only way, and I’m also not turning a blind eye when I see improper mechanics in a player. Even if that means I have to backtrack further into the motion, train the body to be stronger first, or set aside teaching all the different pitches.

The pitchers effectively putting my suggestions to practice, putting in the extra time and work, will do the rest of the talking for me on the field.

*If you are interested in power exercises that will help your daughter get into a stronger attack position, have a strong hip hinge, combined with a powerful push off the mound, reach out! I will gladly put together a workout plan for her.*

Video is curtesy of Art of Coaching Softball:

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