Pitching lessons, and the coach’s philosophy on what it takes to be a great pitcher
My name is Dennis Ryan, and I’ve been coaching fastpitch softball since 2008. I’m a focused instructor, giving private pitching, catching, and hitting lessons in and around Gap, PA. My approach to providing lessons is very holistic, I teach everything from dynamic warm-ups, to mental approach in the circle, to pitch calling, to catcher’s communications, to preventing signs from getting stolen, to how to identify batters’ weaknesses, to strength training, along with pitching fundamentals, etc. as part of the instruction. I also am not afraid to talk about and advise on the college recruitment processes, which at times can seem like an exhausting rat race. My goal when I teach whether to an 8-year-old just starting to pitch all the way up to an 18-year-old pitching in high school and that’s already committed to play in college is to help her be the most successful athlete in all aspects of the circle that she can be.
I give lessons in the off-season and colder months of the year at a local indoor facility in Gap Pennsylvania, but also during the spring, summer, and fall months, I give lessons on local softball fields in the surrounding areas of Lancaster County.
Do you offer pitching lessons near me? Since Gap, PA, is a central hub to many cities, I will have players travel from Ephrata, Coatesville, Lancaster, and Downingtown for instruction. Softball teams and girls in the Octorara area and in and around Chester County including, Parkesburg, Atglen, Christiana, Sadsburyville, Thorndale, Honey Brook, Glenmoore, Lionville, Phoenixville, Exton, Cochranville, and Willow Street are also in striking distance to the fields I usually give lessons on. I have even helped pitchers be successful with the game as far away as New Jersey, and for groups of 6 or more I will travel as far Philadelphia, West Chester, Reading, Columbia, Pottstown, PA; and Pike Creek, Newark, Elsmere, Wilmington, and Brookside, DE; and Elkton, Havre de Grace, MD;
I also will give each pitcher suggestions on the tools of the trade that they can use at home and when they are throwing with their dad on the bucket or with their catcher in the backyard, so that they can continue to keep their spins and the mechanics at the top of their game. In the lessons and especially initial lessons, I will utilize slow-motion video to slow down the mechanics to show what she is doing right and what she can work on to improve and polish to keep her pitching mechanics as efficient and effective as possible.
In the pitching lesson, I focus on arm and lower body position throughout the three phases of the pitch sequence. I talk about what degree hips should be at certain points to keep mechanics safe and not put too much torsion on the shoulder, pulling it out of socket. Release point and hip open/close sequence is key to tight spin and locating the ball to any corner. I teach my pitchers to look the same throughout the process of phase 1, and phase 2, and the only point things change is the grip and the release of the pitch, phase 3. Hitters won’t be able to pick your pitches if you follow my instructions.
My approach is simple: I focus on safe, efficient fastpitch mechanics that can carry pitchers into extra innings, seemingly getting faster the more innings they throw, throwing multiple games a day, multiple times per weekend. I know how demanding travel ball can be, and my pitchers have no problem keeping up and throwing multiple games or extra innings as needed. I focus on late-breaking spin, before speed. I teach safe pitching mechanics and how to tightly spin the softball across all four seems. Speed will come with repetition and time. Hitters will struggle a lot more trying to hit spin than trying to time speed. I teach my pitchers to be a slave to the power-line, being able to control the zone and command their spin pitches at will. I’ve had numerous umpires come up to my pitchers and me after the game and tell me that they enjoy calling their game and admire their command of the zone and “have never seen a girl at that age with such control of the corners” of the strike zone. I’ve even had opposing coaches just shake their head coaching 3rd base and say they can’t believe “how much the ball spins and breaks so late” to my third baseman nonetheless, and how many strikeouts my pitchers have, making their really strong teams with really good hitters look like they can’t hit at all.
I’ve learned from the best pitching coaches on the west and east coast of our great nation. I only teach the best drills, mechanics, and lessons, so my pitchers will be the best of the best. I do not push 10, 11, and 12-year-olds to ignore safe mechanics and throw 60 mph just so that they can commit to a Division 1 school early but only hurt themselves in a year or two, and then eventually not be able to play at all in college.
Softball pitching drill for leg drive!
When to start pitching lessons? I suggest beginning youth lessons as early as possible. Pitching lessons can be useful for 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12-year-old girls. I’ve also seen pitchers become really successful starting in their teens. It all comes down to devotion and how willing the pitcher will be to work throughout the week, running with what they have learned in the lesson. Again, my process is holistic, so I will give drills, videos, strength training exercises, and practice lessons to take with them throughout the week when they are not learning from me directly.
How much do pitching lessons cost? My pitching lesson prices range depending on field distance and indoor/outdoor facility. Instruction usually lasts between a 1/2 – 1 hour long. In the off-season, when we are using the indoor facility, the pitching lesson prices are naturally higher to cover the cost of the facility, lights, and heat on top of the lesson.
Are pitching lessons worth it? Yes. The pitcher position is arguably the most fundamental position to success of the entire softball team there is. She needs to be mentally strong and physically prepared to kick her muscle memory in and succeed with command, on-demand. I can tell you that when your daughter is standing in the circle of a travel ball tournament at high noon on a hot and humid, 90+ degree day, you will want her to be as successful and efficient as possible, keeping her pitch count low, throwing the fewest pitches possible. Leave the long innings for the opposing team and help your daughter succeed by investing now in lessons as early as possible. It’s never too early to start; frankly, competition in woman’s fastpitch is higher than I’ve ever seen.
Call today if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for a pitching lesson: Dennis (717) 964-8736
If I don’t answer, leave a message, and I will call you back. You can also contact the pitching instructor here. I usually respond within 24 hours.