Learn how to enhance your pitching skills with drills, workout routines and mental aspects with this ultimate guide for pitchers.
Becoming a better pitcher is a goal for any baseball or softball pitcher. The good news is that with proper conditioning, drills, and getting your head in the game, you can become a much better pitcher. This guide will walk you through different ways to improve your pitching, increase your velocity, and improve your pitching control.
Work on Pitching Control
Pitching control is an incredibly important skill that young pitchers must master to improve their game. Even though velocity is the metric most often used in pitching, pitching control is an important skill- without it, pitchers won’t be able to advance to higher levels in baseball or softball.
Pitching control starts with good mechanics.
If a pitcher has strong velocity but can’t locate pitches, it’s likely a mechanical issue. The pitcher has to be able to control his body in order to control the ball, as the body is responsible for a consistent release point.
Identifying the issue at hand is important, as adjustments can then be made to improve mechanics.
When starting out as a pitcher, it’s important to start with the fundamentals. Breaking down every movement, and then practicing consistently, is the best way to form proper mechanics in pitching.
Baseball and Softball Pitcher Drills
The drills below can help new pitchers work on pitching mechanics and refine their skills as they advance.
Gripping the Ball
This drill is key when first starting out, making it perfect for new pitchers. Teaching baseball and softball pitchers to hold the ball up out of their palms and up on their fingertips. This helps with snap control and velocity.
Pitcher Control Drill
This drill helps pitchers develop awareness of the strike zone, which is pretty important when just starting out. Have your catcher and pitcher on the mound and a batter stand in. The batter is not swinging, but needs to be in a ready stance before every pitch. Have your catcher alternate between inside and outside and have your batter alternate between the left and right- hand batter’s box. Have your pitchers focus on hitting their spots, it is important to do this with a hitter stand in to simulate a game-like scenario.
Balance Point Drill
This drill is important as the pitcher goes through the wind up to ensure they have proper balance and momentum. As the pitcher goes through her wind up, tell her to freeze at her balance point and hold for at least two seconds before continuing her pitch. The coach needs to check the position to make sure that the pitcher’s front leg is at the waist or higher and she is balanced.
Sit and Throw Drill
This is a great drill for improving throwing mechanics and eliminating lower body movement. This helps pitchers gain control, which is an important part of being a great pitcher. Have a pitcher and his partner sit with their legs crossed about 20-30 ft away.
The receiver of the ball sets up as a target with his glove and the thrower must hit the target without the ball bouncing and with minimal rocking or full body movement. This requires the elbow to be above the shoulder and have a strong rotation of the shoulder to get the ball to their partner, without using their lower half.
The Bullseye Drill
This is the best drill to help pitchers hit their spots. Coaches tape off a square bullseye into either a padded wall or the batting cage. Inside each square, create smaller squares. The size of the squares depends on the age and the skill level of the pitcher you are working with.
Players then must throw three to five balls back-back in one square, before moving on to the next square. This drill will help pitchers pin point location and have consistency hitting their spots, giving them more control, and more strikeouts.
The baseball pitching motion begins with the windup. Start by facing sideways with your front shoulder directed at your target and your feet parallel. Keep your hands together at your chest with your elbows close to your body, nice and relaxed.
As your hands start to move down toward your belt, step towards your target on a bent leg, while your arm is cocked back to about a 90-degree angle. During your stride, make sure your glove side foot remains closed. The moment before your foot lands, it opens and points towards the plate. When your foot opens, your hip opens as well, which will in turn, bring your upper body through.
A good follow through for a baseball pitcher is vital for control, speed, and proper fielding position upon release. As you release the ball, your wrist snaps after coming over top. Finish with your throwing hand down and behind the opposite hip, showing the back of your shoulder to your catching partner.
Becoming a baseball pitcher is not easy but practicing the fundamentals of pitching and focusing on proper pitching mechanics is vital for successful baseball pitchers.
How to Increase Velocity in Youth Pitchers
Velocity is very important for pitchers. While velocity isn't everything, it is the number one way people measure pitchers. If a pitcher has the ability, movement, and control to get hitters out, gaining velocity is the number one way to become a better pitcher.
Speed up the time from stride foot contact to maximum external rotation of the throwing shoulder
Involve your glove arm. Glove arm action helps shoulder alignment, trunk flexion and arching, and good trunk rotation- all of which increase arm speed and ball velocity.
Keeping the head behind the lead hip longer also produces less stress on the shoulder and increases velocity.
Physical fitness is a key part of being a better pitcher. Being in shape and a pitcher’s physical fitness is directly correlated to her ability to put the ball where she needs it to go- resulting in pitching a stronger game and more strike-outs.
Adding proper conditioning and strength training can help the pitcher improve posture and maintain balance, which are key to pitching.
You should work with a coach or professional to determine the best workout for your body, health, and goals. Here are some ideas from a course by trainer Eric Cressey for workouts that can help improve your physical fitness, increase your velocity, and make you a better pitcher:
Push-ups: using chains, band resistance or something called a blast strap
DB bench pressing
Multi-purpose bar benching (neutral grip benching bar)
Row and chin ups
Medicine ball throws
Increasing your overall fitness is key to becoming a great pitcher. Doing these exercises can help you improve your physical conditioning so you can bring your A game every time you’re on the pitching mound.
Don’t Forget the Mental Aspect
Baseball and softball are some of the most mentally challenging and demanding sports. This is because there is a lot of dead time, which means more time to think. Thinking is often at the root of anxiety, pressure, and tension. The mental aspect is therefore an incredibly important, often overlooked, part of pitching. As such, it’s important to consider the following mental factors to improve your softball or baseball pitching.
Wasting pitches is a common problem among young baseball and softball players. It’s easy to get complacent when pitching a good game. Losing focus or concentration because of doing well often causes wasted pitches.
Wasting pitches and throwing foul balls too many times ends up with the batter going to first base, making the pitcher look foolish and letting the other team get ahead.
Pitchers need to challenge themselves with the very best possible pitches, no matter how far ahead they are. Slacking on pitches is unacceptable and results in the other team getting to first, which is something that should concern every pitcher.
It’s easy, especially for young softball and baseball players, to get distracted during a game. There is not only a ton of external stimuli and distractions (like cheering, loud noises, opposing team intimidation, and more), but a ton of stuff going on inside the pitcher’s own mind.
A good pitcher has to train and teach herself to block out both internal and external distractions. It’s important to ignore all else and be able to focus on each individual pitch. She needs to think of where she wants the pitch to land, why she wants it there, and the mechanics to get it where it needs to go.
That’s a lot of focus, especially for younger players. With practice, concentration, and training, pitchers serious about improving their game will be able to block out all the noise and do what they love- pitch a great game.
Fear of Failure
One of the most challenging aspects of pitching is fear of failure. Pitching is one of the most stressful parts of baseball. All eyes are on the pitcher, and this can cause anxiety at any level, especially youth baseball and softball players. It’s important for the pitcher to have the courage to compete- no matter what situation he may be in.
The pitcher needs to be able to throw the pitch for strikes and challenge hitters. The pitcher has to be able to maintain his emotions and prose, as well as have a great amount of self discipline in competitive situations.
A pitcher develops confidence through proper preparation and hard work. After getting experience, her past successes help her gain confidence. Making sure the pitcher is confident is paramount to success.
Make sure the pitcher isn’t worried about hitting the batter.
Pitchers have to get their head in the game, and that means making sure the batter doesn’t bother him. A pitcher can’t be afraid to hit the batter. The batter, in baseball, is the enemy, and the pitcher has to be confident and not fearful of throwing one inside.
Best Youth Baseball Equipment for Pitchers
A serious baseball or softball player needs the right youth baseball equipment.
Baseball and softball are sports that give players a ton of choices and freedom when it comes to what gear they want to use. Some positions require specialized gear, and every position on the field is a bit different.
Store all your gear with a baseball or softball backpack.
Transform gear lugging nightmares into a stress free, organized, comfortable, lightweight and easy experience with a softball or baseball backpack.
A solid game starts before you hit the field. In fact, we believe it starts when you start packing up for it and thinking about the game, which is why No Errors believes that it’s incredibly important to have the best bags on the market.
Effective baseball and softball backpacks are important. They should store everything a player needs, while providing perfect sized spaces for all of your equipment and gear.
The FastPitch backpack is an excellent choice for all youth baseball or softball players. It’s large enough to carry two youth baseball bats along with other equipment such as your batting helmet, glove, shoes and a variety of accessories. This awesome bat bag is built for the fastpitch baseball or softball player in mind.
One of the most prized possessions of any pitcher is their glove.
One of the most important pieces of equipment is a baseball glove. There are a ton of baseball gloves on the market for you to choose from. They come in a wide array of colors, sizes, materials, uses, and designs.
WebGem gloves are the best youth pitchers gloves on the market!
We offer a ton of high-quality, durable gloves for baseball and softball players!
The Flare is No Errors’ best-selling form for gloves up to 13", making it an excellent choice for youth softball and football pitchers. The open pinky and thumb create the largest possible vacuum to funnel the baseball or softball into the pocket, regardless of where the ball initially hit inside the glove.
NO ERRORS is a leading seller of baseball and softball equipment. Founded in 2004, No ERRORS had a simple mission: to build and sell softball, baseball bags and catchers bags that are more versatile, durable, and feature backed than any other bags on the market. That same quality was extended to other gear you need to be a successful baseball or softball player. We pride ourselves on all the bats, gloves, and other equipment that you need.