YOU Are YOUR Best Pitching Coach

Often, I will use the phrase, “Be your own pitching coach.”  You might not know exactly what that means or you might say, “But I have a pitching coach already…” and I would say that’s fine. BUT when it comes right down to it, and you’re in the middle of the circle with bases loaded and a full count on the hitter, that pitching coach can’t make the pitch happen FOR you. To “be your own pitching coach” means to learn to think for yourself, learn to FEEL for yourself and learn to make corrections on your own.

This just can’t magically happen in games, it has to be practiced at practice!

If you’ve taken lessons with me before, or come to one of my clinics, then you know one of my favorite things to ask is, “How did that FEEL?” I want a pitcher to slow her mind down, and actually have to take time to understand what her body just went through to create a certain pitch. In order to do that, you must take more time in between pitches to start to understand FEELING and let your brain figure out what exactly it did feel.  Feel is such a big part of pitching.

To feel means to understand what every body part is doing from fingers, down to hips down to knees and toes.

It means that someone can tell you an adjustment to make and simply by words alone, it can create a feel to that body part of what that body part needs to do differently the next pitch in order to make an adjustment. This is THE biggest thing to have as a pitcher. If you aren’t feeling, then you aren’t pitching. A pitching coach who is just going to tell the pitcher everything to do after every single pitch isn’t helping to create that feel. That’s making a pitcher a robot.  Robots don’t feel, they change on command. A pitching coach who tells his/her pitcher every single movement to make is not enabling that pitcher to think for herself

Being your own pitching coach is essentially like being your own boss.

How would you like it if your boss came into your office and said, “Do this…do that…no do is this way…no that’s not right…” Eventually, you would either get burnt out, or you would stop thinking for yourself.  Then, when it came time for you to change jobs or “perform” on a big stage, you might freeze, and not be sure of yourself because previously, someone had told you every single move to make.  Instead, I think it would feel more empowering to ask YOU, “What do you think about doing it this way?” or “How do YOU think we should do it?” Then you can answer, and think for yourself, and come up with an answer TOGETHER.  It’s teaching someone and not just TELLING them.  Teaching takes a little bit more time.  Just telling someone something is a quick way to get it over with, but it doesn’t help out the other person as much.  It’s the same way when a pitcher is learning not JUST what a pitching coach thinks, but also learning to form an opinion of her own about what she thinks works for HER.  By talking about what you feel with your pitching mechanics and having to actually talk about out loud about them, you learn to have more confidence and truly understand what your body does in order to make a pitch happen. You’re learning. You’re making mistakes. You’re growing. Most importantly, you are learning to take responsibility for YOUR pitching craft. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it is SO good for you, and you will eventually get more and more used to it.

Be your own pitching coach means thinking for yourself and being able to come up with an answer on your own without someone telling you what to do. Come game time, your pitching coach may not be at warm ups with you and he/she definitely won’t be out on the field with you. So how are you going to handle your own thoughts? How are you going to make your own adjustments and even REALIZE that it’s time to have adjustments? THIS is what pitching is all about. You can’t look to your parents for answers you can’t always look to your coach for answers. A lot of times, you have to look deep inside yourself. Don’t be a robot out there in the pitching circle. Be you.  Trust your thoughts in the game by learning to trust them in practice.

Look to yourself for the answers first.

Try new things. Be inventive. Something may work for you that a pitching coach didn’t TELL you to do, but if it WORKS (if it REALLY works), then you should be able to do it. I loved when I gave lessons and one of my girls would come up to me and say, “At practice, I was playing around with my curve ball, and I realized that when I throw it, if I put my hand HERE then it doesn’t work, but I slightly moved it back a little, and then it helped with the movement of it.”  <— THIS IS AWESOME…AMAZING…INCREDIBLE. If you can do this, if you are willing to even try new things on your own, you are going to grow and grow and grow. Nothing will stop you. This means that you are truly feeling what you are doing and are taking the time to understand pitching mechanics, think for yourself and isolating different body parts to make small changes along the way that will pay off to be big changes down the road.

At your next practice, think on YOUR OWN and be your own pitching coach. Think about what you FEEL is going wrong with a certain pitch or your mechanics. Slow your mind down to think about what your adjustment is. This pays off down the road. We should be free thinkers, able to express ourselves and come up with our own solution. It’s good to ask people for help, but it’s not good to ask people for answers ALL the time. Figure out some things on your own, it will stay with you longer and make you feel like later on when you need an answer or a quick fix, that the answer is already inside of you….just have to think about it a little to pull it out!

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Amanda Scarborough

Big 12 Freshman of the Year (2005)
Big 12 Player of the Year (2005)
Texas A&M Softball All American ('05 & '07)
Big 12 Pitcher of the Year (2007)
WCWS Appearances ('07 & '08)
Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee (2014)
ESPN Softball Analyst
The Packaged Deal co-founder

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You are absolutely right on working together to get the “feel” and not be a robot. I can tell my daughter all day but when it’s game time, I fell she can make her and have to make her own adjustments on the mound. Another great post Amanda. Thank you for what you do, now go answer my emails. Lol -Robert

  • I am a pitching coach. What are your thoughts about moms and dads who becoming YouTube coaches to their kids and try to tell other coaches had a coach based on what they hear and read?

    • Hey Leslie! I think it shows that parents are vested in their children and wanting to help and learn. It’s good to study pitching because they won’t always be with YOU as a pitching coach during the week or during games. Me being a pitching coach myself, I know for a fact that there is a certain level of expertise that we have as being coaches and seeing hundreds of pitchers and learning from experience of our own. As a parent, I think it’s great to go out and learn and research as I truly believe there is not one size fits all in fast pitch mechanics. However, at the same time, if you are trusting and paying someone to coach your daughter, I do believe it is important to truly believe in what they are teaching and buy in. Becoming more knowledgeable doesn’t always mean that you are “right.” A lot can be put in for the tone and HOW the question is worded from the parents to the pitching coach. As a pitching coach, I think it’s important to continue to grow and learn and explore different mechanics and ways of teaching, however believe in what you are coaching your pitchers so if you DO get questioned you have confidence and can stand fully behind what you are teaching your students! With as much information as there is that is freely accessible out there on the Internet, it will be impossible for people (especially parents) not to question different things, but as a coach, it’s important for you to hear them and help “coach” them through what they are trying to understand better.

  • My 10 year old daughter and I do a drill that we call 20 pitches. She throws 20 pitches and I am not allowed to say a word except to let her know how many she has left. I ask her to try to fix any mistakes on her own without me coaching her through it. It gives her a great sense of accomplishment when she is able to work through it own her own. It also keeps the peace. 🙂

  • Hi Amanda, appreciate all the articles, my daughter Hailee is 11, she is usually the smallest pitcher on the team or in the tournament we are playing in. We continue to watch your video’s , she has a binder she puts your articles in so she can read them at different times. She knows she will never be the biggest, strongest or fastest pitcher, but your stories combined with your size has helped her stay focused on working hard. Anyway we look forward to seeing you this Saturday in Indiana, Hailee is super excited and as a Dad I am super excited for her. Thanks for all you do for the sport and the girls out there looking for some extra motivation.

    • Hi Joe! Sorry for taking a while to respond, I didn’t get notifications that people were commenting on my blogs, I usually write back quickly! Hope you enjoyed visiting us in Indiana! Thank you for bringing Hailee – it is so cool she has a binder of my articles in it! I would LOVEEEE for you guys to take a picture of it and email it to me – – that kind of motivation is something I would like to share with my followers! Thank you!

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