My friends and I frequently play pick-up games on our local fields. Unfortunately we only have one or two people that have any previous pitching experience so I’m trying to learn how just so we can have more active games. Other than pick-up games and intermural softball in this past college semester, I haven’t played on an actual team since coach pitch. My biggest problem is that I’m pretty much flying blind on how to even start working towards being able to throw well enough for our little games. I’m not expecting greatness I just need some direction for learning basic pitching. I throw sidearm naturally because throwing overhand or 3/4 puts more strain on my elbow. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
You’re on the right track. The sidearm delivery is indeed the easiest on the arm and shoulder, being the most natural, so you can begin there. You can start with some of the basic mechanics—posture, balance, control of the glove, good follow-through—and if you can find a good pitching coach in your area I’m sure he’ll be able to help you. I don’t know what kind of stuff you have, but you can work on a decent fast ball to begin with—there are two kinds, the four-seamer and the sinker or two-seamer—and learn to change speeds on it. That looks like a tall order, but it isn’t really. And work on location—what we used to call “control” and some of us still do—getting the ball to go where you want it. This should do for a start. Keep me posted, okay? 8)
Thanks for the reply. So to increase my control what should I do? Should I just throw over and over until I’ve got it or are there specific drills I should work on? Also, as far as posture goes, what are the basic points that I should work towards?
Here’s what I used to do when I was a little snip and continued well into my playing days. I would get a catcher, and we would go to a playing field that wasn’t being used, and I would take the mound while he would set up behind the plate with his mitt. We would play a little game we called “ball and strike”; the catcher would position his mitt in various spots, high, low, inside, outside—every which way but standing on his head!—and I would concentrate on getting the ball smack-dab into the pocket of the mitt, even throwing through it rather than just to it. We would go at it for an hour at a time. It was a good workout and a lot of fun besides, and what a sweet satisfaction I would get when I heard that resounding “thwack” as the ball hit the pocket of the mitt. I would do this with all my pitches, at different speeds, and when I picked up the crossfire I would work with that too—believe me, I can’t think of a better way to sharpen up control. And from time to time we would get someone to stand in the batter’s box, on either side, so I could really zero in on the strike zone.
As for posture—I believe that it and balance are intertwined. You might want to put up a full=length mirror and work in front of it, concentrating on a good upright posture so that when you work on your windup you can go in a straight line to the plate in delivering the pitch—and you might get a pitching coach to help you with that.
And you might want to think about what pitches you want to, or can, use. Most coaches will say you should concentrate on the fast ball at first—whether a four-seamer or a two-seamer is up to you; personally, I would go with the two-seamer (sinker) because you would probably have better control over that pitch, and because of that sinking action you can get a lot of ground-ball outs. Then, once, you’ve got that fast ball in hand, think about a changeup—there are lots to choose from. My favorite was the palm ball; it was my first changeup and a good one it was too. Then—take it from there! 8)