Tag - softball pitching

How to Throw Strikes Consistently as a Softball Pitcher

Want to be more consistent?

Look at your windup & the beginning of your pitch.

If the timing, rhythm, and smoothness of your pitch varies from pitch to pitch, then your release point will vary as well and make it more difficult for a consistent release point.

If you’re looking for more consistent results, start at the beginning of your pitch, analyze it and then also hone into the end of your pitch to bring consistency to BOTH.

10 Pitching Commitments to Make in 2020

I feel the “g” word (goal) gets thrown around too frivolously these days.

In 2020, think of the two “c” words- CONSISTENT COMMITMENTS.

A goal is nothing without consistent commitments.

These are the two words I’m choosing to use this year to get through to pitchers’ families and pitchers.

A goal is like lungs getting filled up and commitments are the oxygen that give our lungs life. 

A goal disappears out of thin air without actively working on the commitments we hope will get us to that goal.

Pitching isn’t just a position on the field, it’s a commitment

What pitchers CONSISTENTLY COMMIT to pitching has the POTENTIAL to lead them to their biggest dreams & goals.

Consistent commitments are in a pitcher’s control RIGHT NOW.

So what is your pitcher(s) consistently committing to in 2020? 

This COMMITMENT should be realistic to be able to maintain and keep up with for this upcoming year. (Not just this upcoming week or this upcoming month).

It’s something the pitcher is fully committed to weaving into her LIFESTYLE.

That’s really what pitching is – a lifestyle.

It does no good for her to make a commitment that SOUNDS great, but at the end of the day is unrealistic for her to keep up with or something she knows she will burn out on. (example. “I’m committing to pitching at least 6 days a week every week of the year.”)

The commitment should be something that she knows is- 

  • A) Something she can be better at/do more of.
  • B) Something she knows she can CONSISTENTLY work into her schedule/every day lifestyle.
  • C) Something that she KNOWS if she does this, it will without a doubt make her game better (not perfect, but BETTER).

Here are 10 commitment examples:

  1. Throw a pitch you just learned more in a game. (you define what “more” means)
  2. Pitch 1 more time a week than what you have been doing.
  3. Having a better presence at practice and in games. (you define what “better” LOOKS like and what you are holding yourself accountable for).
  4. Focus 5% harder/more at lessons by asking more questions and writing down key phrases that work for you.
  5. Keep better track of your pitching journey by journaling after practices and games.
  6. Watch and break down video of yourself pitching 4 times a year.
  7. Keep track of your strike % in games and committing to working to raise that % by 5 percent by the end of the year.
  8. Find ways to practice on your OWN at least 2 days a week, even if it’s just for 5-10 min of spins.
  9. Start pitching lessons – go once a week or twice a month.
  10. Watch one college softball game a week (even out of season July-January) and taking notes of 5 things you learned that game.

^it’s important for the commitment to be DEFINE-ABLE or measurable. It should not just be “I’m committing to be more confident on the field.” Rather, there must be an achievable commitment, “I’m committing to be more confident and I’m going to find an inspirational quote each week to have in mind when I pitch.”

I can give you all IDEAS, but at the end of the day it’s up to YOUR PITCHER on what SHE feels like she can consistently commit to in the year 2020. 

Without that confidence of a consistent commitment to be put into ACTION, a goal is a complete wash. The goal itself really doesn’t matter.

Consistent commitments are in your pitchers’ control as SHE learns to take responsibility for HER own game…and life.

“Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.”

I recently heard this quote for the first time: 

“Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.”

It stopped me in my tracks.

And of course I thought of pitchers.

Ease is a greater threat to PROGRESS than hardship.

Progress = growth.

You won’t grow without feeling uncomfortable.

This is the part that many pitchers can’t get past.

It’s the boundary between average and good; good and great.

When you get TOO comfortable with how you’re pitching, how it’s feeling, or become unwilling to tweak or change anything – and this is where the progress will stop.

Yes, you want to feel CONFIDENT and that can be confused with ease. Pitching is never EASY. It’s a beautiful grind.

When it feels too easy, that’s when you know you need to push yourself for something MORE. That’s when you know there IS more inside of you to pull out.

I’ve said this 1000 times. Pitching is hard. 

And while we can strive for adjustments and times that things “click,” we can’t hang on those moments for too long because there is more to be done. 

There always is. 

No matter how far you’ve already come and no matter what level you’re at, there’s always more that you can pull from inside of you. It’s one of the biggest life-lessons you learn through pitching.

So the next time your pitcher doesn’t want to try something new or tries or twice and “doesn’t like it”, remember the quote “ease is a great threat to progress than hardship.”

Examples I think of:
A) Not wanting to change the start of the pitch with the new rule change where the stride foot can be a little further back behind.

B) Resistance to change pivot foot mechanics even though there is a leap or crow hop.

C) Not pushing to get on a better, more competitive team because the team you’re on right now you’re the #1 and you get all the pitching time.

D) Not looking to better your mechanics because how you’re doing right NOW, you’re the best in your area/league/state, etc.

When things become easy or too comfortable, it’s time to check in with yourself and think ok, what’s next? Where can I grow? How can I push for more?

(Quote by Denzel Washington)

2020 New Softball Pitching Rule Changes

HOT TOPIC: Let’s talk about the pitching rules change, what it looks like and what you can and can’t do.

Get familiar with “Start Back” vs. “Step Back” – one of the two will most likely be coming to a governing softball body/organization near you starting January 2020, and it can affect the start of your pitch!!

Finally, a rule change that gives pitchers an advantage!

Giving Pitchers an Advantage

This is a significant change in the sense that its movement in a rule change that affects how a pitcher can choose to start and, in my opinion, can be an advantage to the pitcher (yay).

However, as I say in this video, it is not major in terms of feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel with your mechanics.

Most likely, in the whole scheme of things, it’s not THAT drastically different than what you are doing now.

I’ve really been doing research and to the best of my understanding here is what I know:

Step Back – USA Softball, USSSA, High School

Start Back – PGF, College (* don’t kill the messenger over why there are differences, I am just passing along) There are always things I forget to say when I am making these videos (hehe)

Things I forgot to say in my video explanation:

  1. It is not required that you start back or step back. They are both just options where your back foot (stride foot) can NOW start off the pitching rubber! Your old start position where both feet needed to be in contact with the pitching rubber would still be ok!
  2. When can the “Step Back” happen? – it can happen “before, simultaneous with or after the hands are brought together.”
  3. Your feet still need to stay within the 24-inch pitcher’s plate. (This means your foot can’t start way on the side of the pitching rubber).
  4. After you bring your hands together after taking the signal, they need to pause for at least one second.
  5. The “Start Back” would be legal under “Step Back” rules.
  6. The “Step Back” would NOT be legal under “Start Back” rules.

Let me know what questions/concerns you have in the comments!

My Thoughts on the Rule Change

REMINDER: You CAN still have both feet in contact with the pitching plate if that is what you find works best for YOU. Just because the rule changed that the stride foot can start off of the pitcher’s plate does not mean you MUST have it off.

Whether it’s Start Back or Step Back that you are following, find that perfect launch position angle where you feel the most explosive AND crisp with your mechanics/whip.

My Biggest Suggestion

I would suggest taking the time to practice and play around with different distances. Make sure you’re paying CLOSE attention to the stride foot distance you are trying, as even a centimeter difference can make a big difference for you. During this same practice session, I would find and use a radar gun and put velocity #s to the different stride foot distances you are trying. Make it like your scientific experiment! Try 5-7 pitches, track it, and see if there’s a difference in your velocity. No one has to TELL you exactly where you have to be when you can “research” it and figure it out on your own!

What Would I Do?

I said this in my other video, but if this were me, I most likely would work from the “Start Back” position. I say that from a perspective of being in your shoes and A) not wanting to change back and forth depending what tournament I am playing in, B) If my goal was to pitch in college, especially if I am at a recruitable age, and the college rules use Start Back, that is what I would work at.

I hope all of this helps with your upcoming practices!

Incorporate Competitions in Your Softball Practices!

Creating competitions in your practice & lessons, no matter the age or skill level is SO IMPORTANT!!

We do the same thing at our Packaged Deal clinics, including the pitching session, because at the end of the day, playing sports is about COMPETING, and every game will have a winner and a loser.

Competitions remind you that you’re playing FOR something.

And because you’re playing with something on the line, it’s normal to have nerves and an adrenaline rush – it’s what athletes feel on an EVERY DAY basis, and honestly, it’s the feeling that makes playing sports so special!

Performing Under Pressure

Practice and games FEEL different for athletes. Practice, on average, has pretty low pressure and low heartbeat. Games are the complete opposite BECAUSE you are playing for something and also performing IN FRONT of people.

In games, you have to be able to deal with those nervous feelings AND you still have to be able to find a way to perform to the best of your ability. It’s another reason why incorporating competitions INTO your practices is SO important so that athletes experience the adrenaline rush and their bodies getting a little tighter. Yet, they learn how to work THROUGH and WITH those feelings, instead of those feelings working AGAINST them…paralyzing them in games. where they don’t look like themselves come game-time.

An Example Captured at Camp

In Seattle, we had a TEAM competition (we broke up into 8 groups of 4) and we also had an individual “pressure situation” I’ll call it!

This video shows BOTH, but just wait until you see how this player performed at the end!

IT IS INSPIRING!! And it was one of my favorite Packaged Deal moments in the history of giving clinics!! What questions do you have about this team competition and pressure situation? What have you noticed about your team and/or pitcher when it comes down to competing on the field in games?

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