From my experience as a head softball coach, a pitch caller, and from giving instruction to catchers over the years I thought I’d share a few thoughts on a few things in the game of fastpitch softball that I’ve noticed can make a great pitcher—one that has worked her butt off over many years to become great—look not so great, even just plain bad at times. And on the other hand when these 3 ‘planets’ align with the great pitcher, championships games are coming!
Take for example the softball pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez . When I saw her pitch a couple years ago at Arizona State University I quickly noticed she had great, late-breaking spin on her pitches, some of the best I’ve seen around the college game at the time, but then I didn’t hear much more about her in the news or highlights for the rest of the year, so I forgot about her. I didn’t hear about her breaking any records. I didn’t see her go far into the end of the season, the playoffs, the World Series, etc., etc.
Increase pitching velocity, reduce arm stress, shorten the hitter’s reaction time… all by more effectively using leg drive!
When I give pitching lessons to young pitchers including 8-year-olds or 10-year-olds or even some 12-year-olds it is not always easy to simplify certain parts of the explosive pitching motion into words that young pitchers easily grasp, and I would say that one of the concepts that is the hardest to translate for students is the idea that a lot of pitching speed comes from using their lower half, their legs.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said the phrase “drive out, don’t step out”, but when I look down at their young faces I can tell in their eyes that they don’t fully understand what I’m saying. And I know for sure as with most other technical learning opportunities for athletes that when they feel it, they understand it. What I mean is: I can say to a youth pitcher again and again to “use your legs”, “use your legs”, “use your legs”, but until they feel what I’m trying to communicate they usually don’t actually understand how to do it correctly. Continue reading “Queen of the Hill: Softball Leg Drive Product Review”
So the other day as I’m scanning through my Twitter feed I noticed a pitcher (who had some success in college) sent a tweet that struck me kind of odd. The tweet almost certainly seemed to be a rant about a pitching style that is very popular and it’s called ‘hello elbow’. The style was made popular by Doug and Jenny Finch and is very helpful to keep girls from chicken winging when they are releasing their pitch. This ‘hello elbow’ style at the very least helps to create less torsion on the shoulder and less stress on the elbow joint. I probably would have not replied if it were just that single tweet but I saw other college pitchers (that also had a bit of success) liking it.
I felt compelled to quickly reply with a video showing the great Cat Osterman releasing her pitch with a very, very high elbow. By the way, Cat has one of the nastiest drop balls on the planet, hmmm… I wonder why?
The simple fact that two of the best pitchers to ever throw in the game of fastpitch softball Jenny Finch and Cat Osterman both either deliver pitches like this and/or they instruct young pitchers to utilize this points me in the direction that’s worthy of recommending the style, at least to some girls. Besides the reality that both of these two softball pitchers that utilize this style of a high elbow finish both have gold medals in the USA Olympics and are in the record books time and time again are reason by itself to give the style some credit or at least not rant against it.
What I replied?
I simply stated that all girls are different and some girls, especially when they’re very young will benefit from something as simple and pneumonic as the phrase ‘hello elbow’. This could help keep them from potentially damaging their shoulder when they’re throwing a pitch. All girls are different physically! Beyond the core fundamentals that keep the girls’ pitching mechanics efficient and safe they should be allowed to make these explosive pitching motions somewhat their own, especially when two of the greatest fastpitch softball spin pitchers to ever to play the game are doing and recommending it.