Hi everyone! I was asked a really good question this week and I wanted to share with ALL of you as it goes over some very important, basic mechanical details of pitching that I feel like everyone can benefit from:
“Value your opinion of course so hoping for a response. My daughter is 8 and started taking pitching lessons a few months ago, from a reputable coach in our area and I do my research but there are a few things I would like your take on.
1) I notice most pro/college level pitchers cross drag, but he is teaching her to drag straight fwd. (I understand why, which is to close up fully) why is it that most do it the other way? Is it better, why or why not?
2) Also on the follow thru of the pitch (just a normal pitch no change up or curve) some people teach to cross the body? I personally prefer straight (keeping arm long of course and not hurting elbow) is there a right or wrong to this, or is this preference?
3) Also she is taught not to swing her arm back at the beginning of pitch she starts circle straight from glove. Reasons being A) not to show ball it will matter later B) prevents keeping arm from staying straight C) Although I do think it will take a few mph off her speed I feel starting in this position has more advantages, do you? I hope you have time to respond and don’t think my questions are to crazy! Loved your video on the power drive Coach Lisle posted, we utilize one all the time for pitching and hitting, you really helped me understand it better; you have a gift for coaching and explaining!”
1) I THINK I know what you mean by “cross drag.” I am picturing in my mind a drag that doesn’t just go straight towards the catcher. I call a “drag” a slug trail because if you look down at the ground when you are pitching in dirt, it’s like your drag leaves a slug trail from where your toes drug while you were pitching. That slug trail is indicative of your mechanics and what your body is doing in your pitch – it is VERY important. A proper slug trail should look like a question mark. From the pitching rubber, it should go straight towards the catcher, and then after about a foot, it should go a little bit behind you. The little bit behind you part of the slug trail is when your hips and shoulders are opening up! Which is a VERY important part of the pitch. If the slug trail just stays a straight line towards the catcher, that would mean the hips are never getting completely open. I would not recommend a straight forward drag (we are girls, we have HIPS, and those HIPS needs to get out of the way of our release by getting OPEN in the middle of our pitch so our arm can clear our hips at our release point)
2) My personal preference for how to teach someone to finish is going to be where their hand NATURALLY finishes, not forcing a certain place to finish after the snap of the pitch. It’s called Pronation – it happens at the end of a pitch after a snap. When you throwing a ball overhand, you see pronation – baseball players do it as well as football players. I do not agree with the hand to shoulder finish or elbow up finish. That’s a forced position. The most natural place you can finish is with your fingers inside your wrist, wrist inside your elbow, elbow inside your shoulder. This forms a little bit of an angle with your arm. (Hold your arm out in front of you and try to get into that position, it’s easier if you actually TRY to do it rather than just imagining it). The most important thing is that you are loose after your snap at your hip and don’t FORCE a certain finish. However, with that being said, the finish should be consistent and repeatable with a natural ability to relax to that position after the release.
3)[A] I like swinging the arm back because it felt like it generated more of a load and more energy at the beginning of my pitch. One solution if you want to do that is to hold multiple pitches the same way. i.e. Hold curve and change the same, so this way, no one can pick up what your grip is before the pitch is coming. Or rise and curve the same. Those are 2 totally different pitches. It’s best to hold a faster velocity pitch the same as an off speed pitch or change up since that is the pitch most coaches are trying to “pick.” You are seeing lots of college pitchers go away from swinging their arm back because of how often college coaches are picking up grips, BUT it is NOT non existent. There are definitely still ways to general power without an arm swing back – remember everything starts from the ground up (with your feet) and putting your lower half into a SOLID EXPLOSIVE position to get the most out of your leg drive with your hips and glutes.[B] As far as a wind up with an arm swing preventing the arm circle from staying the straight, that is not necessarily so. You see LOTS of players who have their arm swing back, such as myself and also, Jolene Henderson, who is on Team USA. Any action can become repeatable by creating muscle memory with hard work and determination. Get in front of a mirror and look at yourself and repeat 100-200 pitches a night. THAT is one of the best ways to create muscle memory because you are FEELING and SEEING your body in certain positions. There is no one size fits all for every pitcher. Everyone has different muscles strengths to be able to get their body into the same position over and over again. [C] Total personal preference regarding the advantages of taking an arm swing out of your windup. You are asking someone who did NOT do that wind up, and I was a 2-time All American and competed at the highest level in college. There are other pitchers who are out there who are super successful without starting with that wind up. It’s all about YOUR PITCHER and what can feel the best for HER. Other things can be changed to compliment your wind up, like I suggested before – changing grips to look the same if the wind up where your arm swings back seems to compliment your daughter better to get her more speed, more consistency and more spin.
**Important to note: Wind up is PERSONAL PREFERENCE. Whatever makes you feel comfortable and whatever you can do the most consistent to make the beginning of your pitch the exact same every single time. Make the BEGINNING of your pitch the same in order to help make the END of your pitch the same! No matter what: that consistency in your delivery is key in order to maintain accuracy, increase and pitch at a consistent speed, and grow spin rates!
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I follow your thoughts and measures specifically. You do a Great job demonstrating and you had a Great career to support it. Thank you for being a great example to show my young pitchers.
Hey Rick! Thanks so much – really appreciate it! Let your pitchers know if they need anything I am here! Please continue to follow, lots of good stuff in the works coming up!
Amanda, Great stuff. I use your PowerDrive video when I start with new pitchers to show them what I think are spot on mechanics. Be like Amanda!! Really like your commentaries during the WCWS and other softball tourneys. Hope they signed you long term to be a part of softball coverage.
Thanks Michael! Lucky I was taught such great mechanics from my coaches at a young age! Happy I fell into their hands! I thoroughly enjoy calling games, and I feel blessed I get to do that as a “job”. Thanks for commenting, please let me know if you ever have any questions!
Hey Amanda I am a pitcher myself and one thing I always have problems with is my change up. Do u know any good exercises to help me?
Find the release that fits YOU and YOU feel most comfortable with! When learning ANY pitch, start up close and do lots of reps up very close to your catcher, just focusing on your release and FEELING what the release point feels like. Do those reps with a purpose. Don’t move back towards the pitching rubber until you are confident in what that release is supposed to feel like. Maybe start 10 feet away just doing snaps. Then move a little further away doing 3/4 drill with that release. Then move to K Drill. The move to a full circle without a push. And then move to full pitch. There is no rush to get back to throw it from full distance. Time wise, don’t feel rushed. Pitch to FEEL it, don’t pitch to get RUSHED to move back!
Hi Amanda. I love your info, thank you! I am a pitching instructor (I pitched in high school for 4 years of Varsity) and I did very well. I sometimes get down on myself because I have been working with some girls for some time and they still aren’t as consistent as I hope them to be by now. I know they are capable of pitching correctly because I see them do so. . but it is just not consistent..how long does it take to master a fast ball? I have heard 1 year, correct? I see the girls 1 time per week sometimes some time lapses and it isn’t always once per week … and I know they have to practice on their own even without me. Is there a website you recommend where you have drills available as well? thanks so much!
Consistency takes repetition with good mechanics! So maybe they aren’t practicing enough? Or maybe they are practicing on the wrong things? Head and eyes must stay still and level and balance must be right on. Those 2 things instantly help accuracy!
Amanda: This advice is spot on. Thanls for it. You see so many different techniques out there that are successful. It sure seems importnt to me to let the girls naturally find what works best then harness the energy they deliver. Glad to know someone with your track record sees it that way too. See you at the Houston Camp. Amanda is excited about seeing you again.
Yay!! Can’t wait to see Amanda in Houston!! Wohoooo!
Hello Amanda, my daughter Rayna and I are very big fans of you and we both appreciate that you continue to help the youth and growth of fastpitch softball. I love all of your positive approach methods and your insight to all pitchers to get them to reach their full potential. Keep up the great work Amanda.
Thank you for all you do
Thanks for such amazingly kind words! Really appreciate you taking the time!
I am a pitching coach that has pitched since I was 8 yrs old and pitched at the collegiate level.. I feel like our coaching styles are very similiar.. Id love to knw if u do any coaching clinics in Cali??.. I love learning new ways to say the “old stuff”!!
I work with a group called The Packaged Deal and we will eventually get to California…we travel the country. Follow our Facebook page for all details and event notifications! http://www.facebook.com/thepackageddeal as well as my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/amanda9scarborough
My 12 year old daughter has recently started pitching for her travel team. She can throw pretty hard for not having pitched in a couple of years. Her delivery looks good until the release which stops abruptly at her hip with her leaning forward. What are some drills she can do to fix this?
I have a young pitch throwing put her arm stays away from her body. do you have any drill to keep her arm close