Pitching and Catching
(1) Conditioning, mechanics, and having the pitchers "listen" to their bodies are critical. Too many young pitchers develop arm trouble. The best advice is to be conservative when it comes to innings pitched, develop more pitchers who throw fewer innings and get a "professional" pitching instructor if you are not a former college or pro pitcher.
(2) Young pitchers continue to over throw. It never fails that young pitchers want to throw as hard as they can. Make sure pitchers establish control first. Have the pitchers throw at "80 percent" and then start working in their hard stuff.
Let's cover the pitcher and defense. Pitcher is a defensive position. However, I constantly see blown plays where the pitcher fails in the execution of his defensive responsibilities. I think this is more the result of lack of attention on the part of coaching than it is on the part of the player. Work on defensive positioning!
FOUR MUST DO's OF DEFENSE FOR PITCHERS
Cover first base. Practice covering first on balls hit between first and second and balls hit up the line at first.
Cover home. Practice covering home on past balls.
Move behind the line at third with runners in scoring position. Be ready to move up the line to back-up third and be ready to move down the line to back-up home. Where you go depends on the play - either at third or at home.
Let your infield position players make the play on pop-ups and grounders. The ball is yours if it's at or near the mound. If not at or near the mound, the play is with either the catcher, the first baseman or third baseman.
Pitching is a special art. My first recommendation is to find a former pitcher, like a former college pitcher, to help you and your team. Of all the positions, I think pitching is where it really helps to have played the position. However, you can still help a player improve by sticking to the basics and working on one or two fundamental aspects of being a successful pitcher. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as your work with your pitchers.
Throw strikes and let the defense make the plays. This sounds simple, and it is but to win games you can't have walks. This means throw strikes and let the defense do the job. Remember that the batter is just one against nine and all nine are wearing gloves!
Pitchers have a tendency to overthrow. This leads to a lack of control and walks. Have pitchers throw at 80% and develop control.
Manage with your mind more than your heart. You'll keep saying to yourself, "One more pitch and we'll get out of the inning." You'll always be rooting for your pitcher to get back on track. Make a pitching change one batter early rather than one batter late.
Adjust to the umpires strike zone. If the umpire has a low strike zone, throw low pitches. If the umpire has a high strike zone, throw up and in. Of course, mix-up your pitches. However, knowing what the umpire considers a strike and adjusting to it to a key to more successful pitching.
Once your pitcher finds a pitch that works, stay with it. He should get into a consistent rhythm before mixing things up. Too may times pitchers want to try different pitches on every throw forgetting what pitch they just threw for a strike. Find what works and use it!
Time your catchers on their throws from home to second. Find-out how long it takes your catcher to get the ball out of the mitt and down to second base. Set a goal of two seconds or less.
Take charge! I want a catcher that takes charge of the situation and isn't shy about coaching his pitcher.
Catchers need to know how to frame pitches. The goal is to move the ball and mitt into the strike zone as fast as possible giving the umpire a good look at the location.
Throw downs can be the most frustrating part of the game if they aren't executed well. Poor execution leads to runs scored and a breakdown in the team's focus. Pitchers need to hold runners on and catchers need to look runners back to the bag. I'd say if you don't spend a lot of time in practice on throw downs and then allow the players to throw at runners - you're in for trouble. Just as infielders can't take too many grounders in practice. Catchers can't make too many throw downs.
Copyright © 2000 Brookside Little League, Inc. All rights reserved