Choosing the “Right” Softball Pitching Instructor: Part 1

Washington College Softball Danielle Lawrie

Choosing the “Right” Softball Pitching Instructor: Part 1

Fastpitch softball remains one of the fastest growing sports for female athletes. Currently, there are more female fastpitch players than in any other time in the history of the sport. With this kind of growth and success of a sport, opportunity knocks for both players and coaches. The explosion of fastpitch has also created a black hole of unscrupulous characters who take advantage of unsuspecting parents. These self-proclaimed pitching coaches use manipulation tactics to entice parents into spending their hard earned dollars on lessons from an unqualified instructor. These instructors most commonly victimize those who are uneducated in the mechanics of fastpitch into believing that their budding athlete is the next blue chip player. They dangle full ride scholarships to top Division 1 schools to bait the unsuspecting parents into using their services.

Research is showing that there are few types of fastpitch pitching coaches in the market. The following is a list of the more common coaches that one may come across in their search for a good instructor.

  1. 1.  The Backyard Pitching Coach- This is usually the dad of a pitcher who has found varying degrees of success. They generally have a basic knowledge of the fundamentals but more often than not, know a lot less than what they project. In general, they have no practical experience using observation as their device to teach proper mechanics which often leaves the instructor with only rudimentary, theoretical experience.

  2. 2.  The Baseball Pitcher/Player turned Fastpitch Instructor- This person understands the foundation of the position but frequently does not understand the biomechanical intricacies of a fastpitch pitcher. While they may be a great instructor they still are lacking the knowledge or skill to teach sound fundamentals. Unfortunately, this person can teach bits and pieces of the windup and pitch but because of the lack of overall knowledge can put the student in a position for injury.

  3. 3.  The Star- This is the highly experienced and highly successful fastpitch pitcher who demands only excellence. He or she was the best of the best. They are well versed in fundamentals, biomechanics and teaching pitches. However, this person lacks tactfulness in communication, consistently provides negative feedback and/or is easily frustrated by slow progress or setbacks from students. While this person may be a match for some students, the majority of students will not be able to flourish under such pressure.

  4. 4.  Cookie Cutter- This is the pitching coach who generally knows and understands solid fundamentals, has a basic knowledge of biomechanics and can teach pitches. Thus, he or she uses the same format for every student and is completely oblivious to the individual nature of each student. This coach is unable to adapt to the individuality of each pitcher and is unable to deviate from their singular style. However, this instructor may be very good for the beginner student since fundamental mechanics are all consistently shared from pitcher to pitcher. It is with the more experienced student, the one that is ready to learn multiple kinds of pitches, in which the coach is unable to adapt to individuals. For example, a pitcher with smaller hands may be unable to grip the ball a particular way and it is up to the pitching instructor to understand that in order to find a suitable grip.

  5. 5.  Stereotypes- Some pitching coaches feel that a pitcher’s size is a determining factor of success and will not give lessons to anyone who does not meet the qualifying criteria. Fallacy that has been taken for truth! At this point there is NO scientific evidence concluding that size is a determining factor on how fast a pitcher can throw or their level of success. If your daughter wants to pitch and she is on the smaller side then let her go for it! The only way to debunk this myth is to go out there and prove them wrong!