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Aug
30

How to Coach a Pitcher

Many coaches run into the issue of how to coach a pitcher, especially when they have never been a pitcher before.  Even if a coach has prior experience as a baseball pitcher, it simply isn’t the same; mentally or physically. 

            Coaching a female athlete, for one, can prove to be a difficult task in itself; coaching a pitcher is a whole other story.  Not only are you dealing with the emotions of a female athlete, you are dealing with one that has the pressure of the game on their shoulders.  The pitcher controls a large portion of the outcome and it is well known that they have to be mentally prepared, ready, and tough to see success within the game.  Wins and losses are heavily weighed on the pitching performance and can affect the mental and physical stability of the pitcher.  As a coach, it is your job to help them maintain confidence and aggressiveness in practices and games without putting excessive pressure on them, without being overly critical, and by showing that you support them.

            Many pitchers already understand the pressure of the game and their role as a prominent player.  Pitching is 80% mental, 20% physical and a coach can easily play into those percentages.  If a coach is constantly nagging their pitchers, telling them that they need to throw this and that without error or else they will be pulled, that pitcher will fail.   Regardless of how mentally tough that pitcher may be, the lack of confidence and negative consequence from a coach will only lead to negative results.  Your lack of confidence in her pitching will only deteriorate her confidence in herself. 

            It is expected that a coach supports their pitchers simply because they picked them up on their team for a reason.  If they didn’t have faith and confidence in their pitchers ability, they should not have brought them on the team.  Yes, it can be extremely frustrating to watch a pitcher struggle in a game, or not throw to her ability, but getting mad and showing disappointment in that athlete will not help the situation.  Again, with pitching being 80% mental, there is probably something going on with her that is deeper than her physical ability.  As a coach, and an adult, remember that you are there to support and show them that you will stand behind them as athletes in both their good and bad outings.

            So aside from “having your athletes back,” get to know your pitcher.  If you don’t know anything about your pitcher, you will struggle to understand her while she is in a game.  Female athletes can be hard to read, so the more you can get to know her, the better you can connect regarding pitch calling, her endurance, and her mental stability on the mound. 

            If your pitcher goes to a pitching coach, attend a lesson.  See how she interacts with her instructor and key in on the things she is focusing on developing.  A huge point for male coaches to understand is that you are not a pitcher.  You have never played fastpitch softball, you have never been a fastpitch pitcher, and you will never be a fastpitch pitcher.  Despite thinking that you could coach a pitcher mechanically, understand that you are wrong. J  Even though you may think you see certain things that your pitcher could work on, discuss it with their pitching coach first.  They may already be working on that exact thing, or they could be working on something entirely different.  It is important to maintain that connection with their pitching coach as they have more one on one time, they confide in them, and are in their profession for a reason.  Once you make this connection, it will better your relationship with your pitcher and you will be able to reiterate what their pitching coach tells them during practices and games.

            As a coach, it is your role to be a supportive figure for all your female athletes.  Pitchers in particular need to know that you trust them, you have confidence in them, and that you believe in their ability.  The more you show them this support, the more confidence they will have in their own game, in turn, bettering their performance every outing. 

 

Key Points:

  • Pitching is 80% mental, 20% physical; a coach needs to play positively into these percentages
  • A female pitchers wants to feel needed and important on a team, more so from their coach than her teammates
  • Be supportive of your pitcher; the more confidence and faith you have in them, the more they will perform 

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. Warren Potash says:

    Reading your blog, one might assume your statement that pitching is “80% mental and 20% physical” to be a fact. If you mean as a head coach you believe this, then it should be clarified.

    Are all pitching coaches having their pitchers strengthen their lower body and rotator cuff complex with core work so they can deliver a pitch generating power in a safe and age-appropriate manner? This is not my experience.

    All softball coaches need to incorporate dynamic and static stretching after a proper warm-up.with lower body stabilization and upper body strength with core training. Cardiovascular training is important and I don’t mean jogging around the field. Interval training is crucial for female athletes at any age as the teen female athlete is subject to many challenges at puberty including the CNS – Fatigue – Injury challenge [CNS = central nervous system]. Cool-down after practice/games.

    Coach Dawn Redd has terrific advice for coaches of female athletes.

    I hope you don’t think this is too technical but today’s coaches need to be aware of how to help their young female athletes.

    1. admin says:

      Thank you for your response to our article. The reference to pitching being 80% mental and 20% physical steams from a pitchers point of view to be acknowledged by a head coach. Most head coaches have not had experience as fastpitch pitchers and providing insight to the game through the pitchers point of view is crucial for head coaches to understand them.
      I cannot speak for every pitching coach across the nation, but I do believe that proper mechanics, warm-ups, conditioning, shoulder isolation, etc is extremely important for the health and success of any pitcher.
      Regardless, that should be the focus of the pitching coach. As said in the post, I recommend team coaches attend their pitchers’ lessons a few times so they may understand what their athlete should be doing when they are away from their pitching instructor; this will help the coach learn the pitching coach’s expectations of the athlete. Furthermore, they may learn how to properly warm-up their pitchers and watch for mechanical flaws that may cause harm to the athletes body.
      I appreciate your response and that you stress proper stretching and strengthening in young, female athletes. This is a topic that tends to be overlooked and it’s great to see others stress the importance of injury preventative strategies.

  2. Mariane Guerra says:

    To the point and spot on, thank you!!

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