I love everything about fastpitch pitching. It’s an art – physically and mentally. A very small percentage of people in this world can say that they have taken a stab at it, and even fewer can say that they ended their career as a pitcher and made it through the whole way. There is a certain splendor in watching someone perform the action of underhand pitching, and actually doing it well.
Let me be the first to tell you – pitching is not easy because of how unique the motion is and how each part of your body does something on its own while it still contributes to one full, complete, pitching circle. Softball pitching leaves fans who aren’t around the sport jaw-dropped. Pitching is an act that so many people want to do, but very few last until the very end in the collegiate or professional ranks.
What makes pitching so beautiful is the motion, the dedication and the pressure.
There is such a high percentage of parents, especially dads, who have thrown overhand and can teach their sons and daughters the general idea of how to throw a ball in an overhand motion. The percentage of those parents who have any idea on how to pitch understand is minute, which causes it to have a certain mystique to those who watch. The motion of fastpitch pitching is intriguing.
When watching a fastpitch pitcher, there is truly so much more to it than meets the eye, especially when it comes to physical mechanics of pitching. It’s not easy to perform the action, and it’s even harder to actually excel at being a great pitcher. Because of all the moving parts through one pitch, all of them add to the allure.
There is so much that goes into creating 1 pitch:
- Explosiveness – you get ONE BIG PUSH every time you go to complete the act to get the absolute MOST energy from your body. One burst of energy, then you get a break, then another burst of energy. This explosiveness is NOT just a step or a lunge – it’s a giant glide off of the pitching rubber.
- Balance / Smoothness – while you’re making that explosive push out, your head and eyes must stay still, you must stick your finish like a gymnast on a balance beam after exerting a ton of energy through your pitch.
- Rules – while you’re trying to be explosive, you have rules you have to worry about concerning your pitch being a “legal” pitch by the rulebook.
- Timing –there are many moving parts throughout an underhand pitch, and all have them have to be in the right place at the right time in order to throw a strike. Not only is timing critical for accuracy, the timing is critical in order to have speed and spin. Timing is everything. The muscle memory and repetition to create that timing is the most important because think about the full motion and how many different things are moving at once at a HIGH pace – elbows, calves, legs, finger tips, shoulders, core, wrist. Pitchers are asking their bodies to move at the fastest rate possible, but also be on time every single time in order to throw strikes. Because of that, timing takes repetition after repetition to master.
There is no other motion in sports quite like the underhand delivery, which leads people to be in awe of pitchers.
There are so many things that need to go right in every single pitch in order to have success in a single game, nevertheless in an entire career. The feel of knowing when a good pitch is coming out of your hand is a feeling that cannot be created with any other action in softball. It’s a feeling of success, effectiveness and control and a feeling only pitchers can understand. To create that feeling over and over again through hard work and dedication is what it takes to create a beautiful, fluid motion that leaves ordinary people in admiration.
The Dedication (aka Sacrifice)
What adds to the attractiveness of a great pitcher is the fact that they are dedicated to their craft. Because of the things listed above about the motion of a pitcher, it takes repetition after repetition to form the correct habits and mechanics. There are so many small drills you can work on as a pitcher to make a complete motion beautiful. You can skip those drills, but being dedicated to those small drills day in and day out is what adds to the absolute beauty of a pitcher with a solid foundation and will add to her success in the long run.
It takes so much time and you must be willing to put in the extra work – more work than any other position player may put into their swing or fielding a ground ball. Are you will to sacrifice giving up some other things to become a GREAT pitcher? If you are willing to, I promise the sacrifice will seem worth it when you look back.
A pitcher pays more attention to detail than any other player every time you go out to pitch, as pitching is the most intricate position to try to master.
It’s that attention to detail and dedication to practicing that creates body awareness, feel and smoothness in a pitcher’s muscles. Yes you may be dedicated, but a pitcher’s motion is always a work in progress. Mentally, it can take a toll on a pitcher to put in the work and always having to correct or tweak a little something here and there. For as many things that are going correctly in your motion, there is always something to work on, always something you can be doing better or getting stronger at. The devotedness to practice for a pitcher should be relentless. With devotedness comes perseverance, all the while you are learning the greatest lessons about yourself.
When you look back, you realize the sweat, fatigue, pain and sacrifices were all worth it.
The pressure a pitcher goes through in a game is extraordinary. Think of how a playing field is called a “diamond.” Who is in the middle of that “diamond”? The pitcher. Remember, a real diamond is made from high pressure and temperatures. So, seeing as how a pitcher’s position is right in the middle of a diamond, the pressure will be high…
A pitcher is battle tested so many times throughout a season. If you have never been on a pitching mound or in a pitching circle when the bases are loaded and the game is on the line, you have no idea what thoughts go through a pitcher’s mind and the intense pressure that an be felt at that point. All eyes are on you and you play a tremendous part in what the outcome of the game will be. From the stands, you may think you know, but it’s one of those things one must experience in order to get the full effect.
In the middle of the pitching circle there is no hiding. Everyone watching THINKS they know when you are doing well or when you are doing bad. Sometimes they are right with their assumption, other times they are completely wrong. BUT, as pitcher, you have the most chances out of anybody on the field for others to see your results.You can look at it as the most chances for opportunity to show the world what you’ve got, or you can look at it as the most chances to mess up – the choice is yours. In a game, a hitter may get anywhere between 0-10 swings in 4 at bats. A pitcher is throwing 100+ pitches in a 7 inning game. Your skills are put on display for everyone to see every time you release the ball.
The pressure is a huge part of what makes pitching even more beautiful to watch and take in.
Pressure adds adrenaline and fuel to the fire. Do you use this to get motivated, or do you let it get the best of you?? At the end of the day, if you can handle the pressure and learn to take the bad results like you take the good results, stay consistent with your emotions and be able to handle the pressure one pitch at a time, the sky is the limit for where a pitcher’s abilities can go. You learn to FEEL the pressure, embrace it, but not let it take over your emotions. The pressure will ALWAYS be there, it will never go away. But what makes a pitcher even more amazing, is when they handle the pressure and are able to move on to the next pitch, next inning and next game with a fresh, clear way of approaching it. The best pitchers will change their mindset of thinking of pressure as something negative, and start thinking of pressure as an opportunity.
Pitching. I love coaching it, I love still getting a chance to do it. I just think that everything about pitching is beautiful. It’s one of the hardest things to do in sports, which is why the victory of having success when you pitch is one of the biggest highs of the world. It’s the hard that makes it great. There’s a beauty to being in control and having the ball in your hand. You feel the seams under your finger tips and you may even feel your palms sweat a little while you hold the ball. This feeling is OUR feeling – the pitchers in the world who want to take not only the ball in their hand, but they want to take the GAME in their hand and lead their team. This is what it takes to be a great pitcher, are you ready?
Not everyone can pitch. It’s mysterious, it’s difficult, it’s a never-ending project. When you pitch, you get to be in your own world, like tunnel vision. No one else knows what is going on in your head and your inner thoughts. When you pitch, you can actually become a different person; it’s almost like a yearly Halloween costume. It is your chance to enter a different place and become a different person. If you have never pitched before, it’s hard to even remotely understand what I am talking about, for being a pitcher is its own special breed.
If you can dedicate your time to trying to perfect your mechanics, while perservering through the pressure, then THAT will get you through til the end.
If it’s in you, never give up on being a pitcher. Finishing your career as a pitcher is an accomplishment in itself; it’s like entering into a exclusive sorority. Compared to the mass numbers, very few will be there with you, but if you make it, you share an exceptional bond that very few will ever know.
54 CommentsLeave a comment
Thanks so much for your article.I met you once and had the opportunity to talk to you at length and was very impressed with your kindness as well as your knowledge.People need to hear more from you.Softball players or not.
That’s so sweet- thank you!!!
I have to highlight many of the things you said here and print it and give it to DD.
So cool! Glad you are going to do that!
My daughter was a pitcher through college. I have always said she was one if the toughest and mentally strongest people I will ever meet. She and I totally relate to everything you’ve said!! Great article for those that have never been there. Great insight for them!
I’ll be sharing this with my pitchers and have tried going from slow pitch to practicing fast pitch in order to better coach. It’s not as easy as one would think. But it’s supposed to be 40 on Sunday so I’ll be hitting the mound to practice.
It’s definitely not easy and every day presents a new challenge!
I am in even more awe of my little u 12th pitcher after reading this;)
I am a Junior in high school, and I’m a pitcher! This article really connected with me. EVERYTHING in there is true. The feelings you get, the “tunnel vision,” the thought of being someone else.. All of it! I like to look at pitching as my “meditation.” It calms me down, makes me forget about my worries, while all at the same time, I’m getting physically stronger & better at what I’m doing. It’s crazy, right? Anyways. Thanks for this! I loved it! Hope to see more!!
Becka! So cool you can relate to it! Glad that you can find pitching as your little “get away” from life! It should be fun, challenging and rewarding all at the same time!
Great article Amanda.
As a pitching coach, the rewards of seeing one of your students come through the days and nights of drills , hardwork and then they realize their true potential is awesome.
After they finish their pitching career and come to you to thank you for spending the time to help them to be a complete pitcher, they tell you, “Coach, Thank you for helping me to be a complete person in my endeavors on the playing field of life”.
I can’t put into words what that means to me.
You have inspired many atheletes and coaches in the softball world.
Great job Amanda.
Thanks, Lennie! So happy you take the time to notice and feel good about those type of things! Sounds like you are a tremendous coach who is also inspiring out there in the softball world, keep up the good work!
dont forget the importance of the pitcher having a good catcher… When a young lady has a great catcher it makes them both look good! Catching is also very rough on the lower body
Yep! Makes it even more beautiful!
I just had the honor of Coaching the Ohio 12u girls that finished 4th at the Little League World Series. I tell my players in front of our pitchers to give them thanks that they were dedicated to their craft. Not just to perform well physically, but to deal with the physical exhaustion that comes from being mentally drained after a game because of the constant battle of emotions, strategy and pressure a pitcher feels to not let down her teammates, coaches, parents and friends. What a HUGE thing for anyone, let alone a 12 year old girl! What I love about the female pitcher is not just what character it develops in a girl, but what it reveals about that girl. Good Article.
I am a 12u pitcher. Thanks for all the articles you have wrote about softball! I love reading your articles. It’s pretty cool coming from somebody who knows! ⚾️⚾️⚾️⚾️⚾️⚾️⚾️⚾️⚾️
I am a 12u pitcher. Thanks for all the articles you have wrote about softball! I love reading your articles. It’s pretty cool coming from somebody who knows! ⚾️
You are absolutely welcome young lady! Thanks for thanking me!
Very good column.I umpire this sport,so I am thankful every day for the pitcher ;But don’t forget the catchers; we kinda like those gals also.
haha! the catcher’s save you umpires MANY times! And c’mon….I am a pitcher, so of course it’s all about US! There’s another position behind the plate? Haha kidding……….always loved my catchers for putting up with me..and change ups…and drop balls..
My daughter is nine and she has been taking pitching lessons for a little over a year with a season of summer ball in between. There is nothing I enjoy more than catching for her. The art of pitching is an awesome thing I will never get tired of watching and I hope she never gets tired of pitching.
You’re at an early point in your young bucket dad career! Welcome to the ride! Enjoy it!
Mike, Enjoy it now because, My daughter has been pitching since 8 and now she is 14 and throwing mid 50’s, with a lot of movement. I only catch in emergency’s only!
What an awsome artical! I was a catcher all the way tell I graduated high school. I on the hand played at the other end of plate and was the varsity catcher. I went every where with my picther. Once a week instead of going to practice we would drive to the south side for pitching practice. I will say that is a very hard practice and tiring. I try to encourage any youngsters to play softball but also to try to pitch or even catch. It’s a great stress relieve and great way to get your mind else wear.
Nothing like that pitcher/catcher bond! Would be interesting for this article to have been written from a CATCHER’S perspective!
what an awesome read, I could not agree more! thank you so much for posting. I will make sure all my pitchers read this.
I couldn’t have said it better! As a now retired pitcher, I wouldn’t trade my experience at college and the NPF for anything. The dedication/sacrifice of turning down countless invitations to go do “fun things” lead me to a world full of experiences and new friends. Thank you for sharing!
Really Really enjoyed reading this!!!! I started my daughter in pitching lessons at the age of 7 and she is now 12. She has been very successful because of her work ethic, very hard worker and there is no other place I had rather be than sitting on that bucket each and every night catching her even through the rough picked up a bad habit times! You article actually helped me understand things she goes through in the circle! She read the article and said dad she has explained things that I have wanted you to know but just couldn’t ever put into words because to me it’s a feeling that I can’t explain!! Thanks again!!
I have been playing softball since I was 6 and I jut wanted to say I love your articles! You are such an inspiration! I love visiting your website before practice, you always give me the motivation I need to be the very best I can. Pitching is where it is at! Much love from your number 1 fan xoxo
Awwww thank you 🙂 I appreciate that very much!
Amanda, I have been coaching pitching for over 22 years. Your article was very well written and right on the money. Thank you for bringing awareness to this subject. It used to be I would get two girls in college on scholarship every year. But recently I haven’t seen many that want to be devoted enough. Good luck.
I wonder if others have seen the same thing….
Well written! My daughter is a pitcher and these are all the things we have said to her & others all rolled in to one very encouraging article! Thank you!
Happy I could reinforce some things 🙂
Wow…my daughter is a pitcher and ivy reading this I just got more insight into her. Thank you!
My daughter has been pitching since she was 8 years old. She is now 18 and a senior in high school. Imagine now that you have dedicated your entire youth to pitching and have been successful at the highest level of travel ball only to have your high school coach tell you another girl has to pitch, cause she can’t play other spots on the field like you can. You re actually going off to college next fall to pitch for a NCAA team so all the dedication, hard work, and commitment has paid off. But as a mother who has seen her little girl grow into an incredible young woman, it really hurts that one person can take away something she so deserves to have. The one thing your article didn’t cover was also the politics that play into being the pitcher. You may have the most dedication never missing a practice, pitching every night, have the best stats, be the most successful on the field, and the coach can choose to play someone else because he just likes them or their parent kisses his butt. We have never stepped in with a coach because as parents we felt that our daughter could just prove her skills on the mound. She doesn’t need us to make up stats, she just performs and it shows. She will go on to college and probably be more successful than pitchers who may have been more talented, just because she was never given an easy path. She has fought extremely hard to get her chance to pitch in college, so she will cherish every moment she has in the circle!!! I only wish she could have that wonderful senior year she has worked so very hard to have!
I used to feel that way. totally understand.
We used to pitch with the goal of the next level. Just about burned my sweet girl out. When we go down that road, she wants to quit. When a Big 12 coach came calling and it didn’t light her up, I knew I had done this wrong.
We’ve learned to pitch for the joy of each pitch and forget about the rest. Honestly, when we are in that “sweet spot”, we could play catch for hours. She’s pitching for herself, no one else.
Our job in High School is to make the other girls better and enjoy the game to the max. most of them won’t get the option my daughter gets as most are inner city kids and have one parent. If that means she doesn’t pitch, it just saves our arm for the summer schedule!
we are blessed. There is Life after softball, if we are lucky.
I love watching softball pitching but will NEVER understand how to do it!! My team’s best pitcher this fall is just amazing… I am so impressed her velocity, mechanics, everything. She’s amazing. I’m glad she’s on my team, lol–I can’t hit her consistently at all!
Be sure you tell her! Love your email address, reminds me of my “laugh love pitch” shirt i just made! http://amanda-scarborough.myshopify.com
thank you for being you Amanda. I forward everything you send to many people.
My little pitcher is going through a little tough time right now. Your blog always seems to show up at the right time.
What you do is VERY important.
Thank YOU for sharing! Appreciate that! Timing is everything…
I have been searching for ideas on how to help my pitcher soar above all other pitcher that can throw their 4 pitches to location at 65 mph. I was going to focus on defending after the pitch by encouraging positive muscle memory after to pitch to be ready to play defense. I cannot find anything from a relative source on “the best way to move after the pitch” in order to be in the best position to defend.
Should the pitcher worry about this?
After you throw the pitch, bring your drag leg next to your stride leg in an athletic position. – that’s one option that may be comfortable.
Also, PRACTICE throwing a pitch and then having someone hit you a ground ball in your finish position pretty quickly. This is a way that will help with reaction time.
After you throw the pitch be sure to be light on your feet and ready for ANYTHING that can hit back at you
As a 14u coach and former high school baseball apitching coach, i can tell you that balance is everything. It starts with balance, extends through consistent mechanics (which also helps coaches recognize when fatigue is setting in as a result of the breakdown of those mechanics) and finishes with balance, which allows pitchers to “jump” on bunt ed or slow hit balls. A pitcher who is inconsistent and unbalanced will not be able to get in potion to help her team once a ball is put in play as consistently as one who is. This all goes back to why so few girls are successful lifetime pitchers….the dedication it takes to master ALL parts of your craft is intense and takes a special girl with strong internal fortitude….work hard girls!
I have been pitching since I was 7 years old. I am now in my second year of college ball, and I am still pitching. I have learned so many things about the game just because I am a pitcher. A catcher is a big part of my game because we bond and know my pitches and what they do. Always thank your catcher. They put in just as much work as the pitcher. However, I am not a pitcher with alot of velocity. I want to tell younger girls that it’s not about throwing fast, it’s being able to outsmart the batter (find their weakness) and make your pitches move. At some point, everyone will catch up to your speed. I have recently had shoulder surgery because of this game. I almost gave up the best gift that was given to me, but I wouldn’t be in my environment if I did that. Coaches, take a stand to make sure your pitcher takes the right care to their arms. Icing and an appropriate warm-up is the best, but some girls are hard-headed (like me). Girls, do what you do because you love it. You love being in the circle, sweating, being yelled at from the dugout, the same motion, mastering each pitch. Work at it and don’t give up because that flip change takes some time to get. Trust me, it took me years to get it, but so worth it! Keep working and don’t give up on yourself!
Torri, I love this. Thank you so much for posting on this blog. You have SO MUCH good information within this post!
I am a dad of a 12U pitcher who just made a pretty elite team. Even though I know a bunch from attending tons of lessons and coaching seminars, I find that keeping my daughter mentally relaxed and personally say as little as possible during our practices together gives us much better results. Basically, leave the coaching to the coaches and just be the dad catcher. I love our times together and realize that those times are very limited in the grand scheme. Your article is inspiring and extremely helpful. Thanks you!!
Hi Amanda! My name is Sabrina Kosek. I’m 15 years old and I’m a pitcher. I have been pitching for 4 years. I have a disease called RSD. It’s very very hard to deal with it and trying to pitch. I wanna play college softball for UofM or Florida Gators! The big thing I have trouble with it staying calm and just forgetting about the last pitch. I over think a lot and talk to myself about that I need to make this. I have people that pressure like my coach and team mates. Right now I’m going to a pitching coach for the winter. The big thing he told me is that I just need to calm down. He thinks that I can play college softball. On my way home this morning from softball practice, I saw this and it touched me. I can’t let a bad pitch or the coaches or my team get into my head. I need to be in my own little world and just do what I can/need to do. Thank you for all the things you write and all the videos you post for drills. They help me a lot. Your my role model!
Hi Sabrina! Thanks for writing on my blog, I am so happy you enjoy it! Know that you are not alone about trying to stay calm and forgetting about the last pitch! That is something that happens to most pitchers! In your mind, always remember that the most important pitch is the NEXT PITCH. In the game, think of that, “next pitch.” In your last couple of sentences, what you wrote to me sounds like you know what you need to do and what you need to think! It’s just a matter of DOING IT! And YOU CAN! Good luck, lots of people look up to you to battle through a disease and you continue to dream big!
You are such an inspiration! I love your passion, technique, and your work ethic. I just finished my last year of collegiate ball as a pitcher and I have just started a new job as a coach and pitching instructor. As intimidating as it can be at first, I am already so in love with teaching young girls the incredible game that we’ve grown up playing. I refer to your site at least twice a week. Your videos and blogs have already helped me out so much! Its a blessing to be able to share the love for the game with so many people. Thank you for all that you do, it is so appreciated!
Thanks Erin! Best of luck to you in your new endeavor! You will get more and more comfortable as time passes and you’ll love it!
You are so very helpful to me thank you
I pitched fastpitch softball my entire life, my uncles were pitchers and my dad was a catcher, they taught me at age 16, and I pitched until I was 55 and my hip gave out. I pitched in national championships and world tournaments and performed very well. I traveled all over the country and met many pitchers from many places. Your article hit the nail on the head, I liked how in depth you went on the mechanics of pitching, the mental part to me was the hardest thing to explain to others, you put it in terms anyone could understand, made me feel good to see someone appreciate the art of fastpitch. I was lucky ,i’m a lefty, not many around and kind of gave me an advantage. great article, brought back memories.