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One of my favorite tips was “You don’t have to throw a strike to get a strike.” This is a good bit of advice when ahead of the hitter. Don’t give the hitter anything too good to swing at. Make them protect the plate. Expand the zone or recognize when your previous pitch may have shifted the hitter’s perception of the zone and exploit the advantage. For example, you just caught the outer edge and got called strike two. Go a bit further out and see if the hitter will make a defensive swing at a bad pitch. Maybe you just got the hitter to swing at a fastball on the inner third and he ripped it foul or tipped it straight back. Now would be an excellent time to put a change up just off the inner edge. He may rip it further foul or miss all together due to a disruption in timing. There are countless situations that the pitcher must learn to recognize an advantage and press that advantage.
I agree completely, but I can’t help coming back to one of my biggest bug-a-boos. If the pitches are being called from the dugout, its virtually impossible to know what took place on the previous pitch. Maybe instead of getting the outer edge for strike two, maybe the pitch was right down the middle or on the inner edge. Calling the same again is easy. Telling the pitcher to move the pitch a few inches further out is impossible.
I read theory and advice like this literally dozens of times every week of the year, but unless the pitcher has a lot of control over what’s being called, its all wishful thinking. And even then, at the HS level and below, it’s a pretty darn rare thing that a pitcher can be accurate within a foot, let alone a few inches. In fact, I suspect one of the biggest reasons there are so many walks and hit batters at those levels is, pitchers are trying to be way too “fine” with adjustments and locations.
I’m sorry if I come off as being so negative on this subject, but I’ve seen way too many pitches thrown in the wrong place that “fool” the batter, but are assumed to have been where the pitch was called to be thrown. I don’t know how many times anyone can see a catcher set up outside and low and the pitch come in inside and get missed or called a strike, before they face reality. When my son pitched, of course I believed he could dot the I on an 8pt font, but eventually I had to face the fact that while he was more accurate with his pitches than most pitchers, he was getting a lot of good things to happen despite missing where he was trying to throw it.
Whether a pitcher can hit a spot or not, he’s still got to have a point of aim and a location he wants the ball to go. Just because a pitcher can’t consistently hit within a foot of his aim point, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have an aim point
If a pitcher just rears back and fires, he will get shotgun accuracy. If he is focused on a spot, he will hit it more often than if he’s not trying for that spot.
Although I really don’t see this as a direct discussion about catcher vs coach calling pitches, I can see some relevance. I agree that the catcher should call the game if possible and that it’s difficult at times to tell what side of the plate a pitch was delivered when observing from the sideline.
However, also having vast experience as a catcher myself, I can tell based on where the catcher is positioned in relationship to the trenches dug into the ground where most catchers place their feet (gotta love crappy field maintenance) and/or with respect to a drawn catcher’s box. That will give you left to right positioning. Then it’s a matter of watching the glove move. For a right handed catcher, if he’s reaching, it’s right of set up. If he’s turning his glove to the counter clockwise, it’s left of his original position. Up and down is better seen from the dugout than even from the umpire’s position. (a good umpire will always tell an argumentative coach that the pitch missed either inside or outside and never up or down for that reason)
Besides, if a pitcher is only accurate within a foot, my estimations of where the ball ended up is certainly within that range.
Where most coaches err, is watching pitching mechanics during a game. Don’t waste too much time watching something you can’t work on until the next practice. The majority of your focus should be on the defensive alignment and the pitch location.
Agree. Now are you saying that every coach calling pitches DO that and DO have your experience?
You’re saying exactly why I’m so against calling pitches from the dugout! I want coaches to be watching mechanic during games so they know much better what to work on the next time he can work with that pitcher at a practice. Now, how many coaches do that?
Here’s a typical week for our HS team. Pitcher “A” starts on Monday and throws from 70 to 100 pitches. The next afternoon there’s no game, but of course there’s a practice, but of course Pitcher “A” isn’t throwing. The next day there’s another game, and on Thu there’s another practice. Unfortunately, the coach is working with the hitters and fielders, so he sends Pitcher “A” to throw a “light” pen with the #3 catcher. Friday there’s another game, and that’s it until Monday when Pitcher “A” is scheduled to start again. And that’s how the cycle goes.
Yes, it would be great to be able to have more time, more coaches, better equipment, and more and better everything. But that’s just not reality. We have only one coach who attends all the games and practices. We have 5 or 6 at games, but rarely does more than 1 or 2 show up for practices. That makes it really difficult to run a program in the optimal way, even if the coach wants to.
Ahh, but the object of a good pitching coach is to get the kid to throw every pitch with the same arm action and motion. This, when done, negates the shotgun accuracy principle. Therefore, he can rear back and fire with the confidence that the ball is going where he wants it to go (+/-).
I’ve seen this with my son starting at 10. He was in a tournament game, and the umpire wasn’t calling anything at the knee. He walked the 1st two batters on eight pitches, all at the knees (+/- 2"). After the 2nd walk, he walks up to home plate and ask the umpire if he’s going to get the call at the knees. The umpire says nope, you’re missing by 2". He gets back on the mound, throws three more balls at the knees (+/- 2"), walks back to home, ask the umpire again, and gets the same answer. He goes back to the mound, makes a mental adjustment to move his eyes 4" above where it was, and rears back and fires. Strikes out the batter, then the sides. He pitched the whole game the same way. Started every innning at the knees (+/- 2"), didn’t get the call, readjusted his zone, and struck everyone out.
Last fall, at 12, he readjusted his focus to hit the outside corner of the plate on every pitch (He didn’t want to hit anybody. Giving a kid a concussion will do that to a 12 yo). Kept hitting the same spot until he found what the umpire was calling. Then, it was 1-2-3, sit down.
I’ve talked with many of the umpires and they all say he’s a pleasure to umpire because he’s always within 2" of the plate. If he’s going inside, they’re all inside. The umpire can sit inside and cal the pitches. Same with outside and low. This is somewhat to his detriment because the strike zone is smaller for him than his peers because the umpires can get a good look at each pitch’s location.
Every pitch thrown with the same arm action and motion will get consistent results. Velocity and movement changes due to changes in grip; nothing else. What we see more often than not is the kids motion and arm action changes with every pitch, therefore a scatter gun result.
Great stuff ThinkTank
I don’t know about it being pretty rare. A foot off is a big miss. You’re describing and outside pitch called being middle in.
IMO a pitcher needs to be closer than that to his aim point. If he’s not closer than that he needs to spend some time spotting his pitches in the pen.
Agree also, catchers especially at the HS level need to be calling pitches. Coaches can not possibly see what the catcher sees, especially if the pitchers has good movement or run to his pitches.
I agree that it’s a significant disadvantage to not be able to see ball movement on fastballs or sliders. Again, why it’s always best to have a good catcher calling the game. At the same time, I’d rather call pitches from the side if the catcher is not far enough along in his development to do it. At the level I just coached at, there was not a lot of run being seen on fastballs. This year, I’m coaching HS age kids where I expect to see more movement.
I don’t make assumptions about what other coaches do or don’t do. As far as mechanics, it calls for video. So I let the unblinking eye of the camcorder handle that. The tape provides ample material to work on at the next practice.
I don’t really watch the pitcher except to make sure he’s not tipping off his pitches or showing signs of fatigue. I’m not going to run out there and ask the kid if he inhales or exhales on his leg lift.
Get a vidcam and tape the catcher, making sure to get a good look at his glove. Zoom in on it to be sure you focus on the right thing. Tape every pitch of every AB by every pitcher in a 7 inning HS game, and mark where the glove and ball meet on some kind of paper or sheet.
Perhaps “rare” wasn’t’ the “best” word, but I can assure you it won’t be “abnormal” to see pitches miss by as much as a foot. Heck. In our last game of the season last year which was a playoff game, there were 309 pitches. Of that 309, 24 were either balls or strikes that hit the dirt prior to the catcher. That’s almost 8% of all pitches by themselves. Assuming every strike was perfectly located, that still leaves 135 pitches called balls. How many of those do you guess only missed by 2”?
You really do need to do as I suggested and look at what’s really happening.
If its so obvious, why do so many coaches call pitches?
That’s your idea of what a good PC does, but not everyone feels the same way.
West2East, you were wondering why in the face of everything else coaches insist on calling pitches even if they were at the wrong angle to do so. It’s obvious—a lot of coaches just want to show they’re the boss. They’re the ones who will tell a pitcher to throw a fastball on an 0-2 count and never mind that the batter is looking for it. And if a pitcher shakes off the sign because he does not want to throw such a pitch in that situation, he gets yanked from the game and often will not be permitted to pitch again for that coach.
I will never understand this, not in a million years. If a pitcher is doing all right, throwing strikes and getting outs, why the blazes don’t the coaches just shut up and let him pitch? Oh no. They have to show that they’re the boss. It becomes “Because I said so”, or “My way or the highway”—and more games are lost that way because of the intransigence of a coach who should know better but doesn’t, because he has to show that he’s the boss. I’m reminded of a former major league pitching coach who was fired from one team after another because of that attitude. :evil:
That’s your idea of what a good PC does, but not everyone feels the same way. ;)[/quote]
Very astute observation. It is what I feel, and by observation, many feel differently.
I’ve had fun in LL these past few years with umpires being in awe of his velocity (some seemed scared) and his control. I’ve told the story where he closes his eyes, imagines a spot, and just rears back and fires the ball where he wants it to be. Scares the heck out of a LL hitter, but he gets the strike. It’s a bit unorthodox, but it brings me a smile.
[quote=“Zita Carno”]West2East, you were wondering why in the face of everything else coaches insist on calling pitches even if they were at the wrong angle to do so. It’s obvious—a lot of coaches just want to show they’re the boss. They’re the ones who will tell a pitcher to throw a fastball on an 0-2 count and never mind that the batter is looking for it. And if a pitcher shakes off the sign because he does not want to throw such a pitch in that situation, he gets yanked from the game and often will not be permitted to pitch again for that coach.
I will never understand this, not in a million years. If a pitcher is doing all right, throwing strikes and getting outs, why the blazes don’t the coaches just shut up and let him pitch? Oh no. They have to show that they’re the boss. It becomes “Because I said so”, or “My way or the highway”—and more games are lost that way because of the intransigence of a coach who should know better but doesn’t, because he has to show that he’s the boss. I’m reminded of a former major league pitching coach who was fired from one team after another because of that attitude. :evil:[/quote]
Sometimes, coaches calling pitches can help the pitcher realize a strength that they may not have previously noticed. For example, as a younger player I used to be obsessed with offspeed. I would think, “Let’s get the hitter off balance as soon as possible.” As a result, I would blow a fastball by guys, then throw a changeup and they would hit it because the previous pitch had sped up their bats. This coach of mine would only call fastballs, and call it again if I tried to shake off the catcher. Eventually, I learned why he was doing this: Hitters couldn’t catch up to my fastball. One inning specifically taught me that lesson: Ten fastballs, nine strikes, 3 Ks, no contact. Since then, I’ve put more value on my FB and learned to pick my spots more carefully with offspeed. Had I continued throwing junk all the time, even to the weak-hitting 7-8-9 guys or whatever, I never would have developed the confidence in myself to just go out there and throw gas right by a guy. Just an example of how sometimes, the coaches calling pitches really do know best.