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Fastpitch Softball Pitching - Speed Isn't everything

Parents and coaches tend to put too much emphasis on a pitcher's speed. I've seen pitchers, players and coaches alike seemingly in awe of a fast pitcher. What they don't realize is that a pitcher with good movement on her pitches will be MORE effective than the pitcher who throws with blazing speed.

A hard fastball is only going to take a pitcher so far. The same pitcher who was blowing balls by the batter in 10 or 12U will find that she is getting hit and hit hard in 14U. Parents and coaches don't help, in that they often wonder aloud what happened to the pitcher. I'll tell you exactly what happened. A fastball pitcher can only throw so fast. As she moves up in age groups, more and more girls will be able to throw as fast as she can.

 Batters are bigger, faster and stronger, and have been seeing fastpitch softball pitching for years. That 50 mile per hour fastball is no longer intimidating; it's a invitation to hit it as hard as possible. Pitching machines typically throw fastball after fastball and batters have been seeing them for years.

Allowing a fast pitcher to rely solely on her fastball in the younger age groups sets her up for failure as she gets older. Older and stronger batters will hit fastballs time and time again. Balls that used to blow by younger batter will now be blowing by outfielders. A pitcher that relies heavily on her fastball is now forced to learn new pitches merely to survive.

Coaches, do your fast pitcher a favor and require that they learn other pitches. They may dominate on your team in the younger age groups by simply throwing fastball after fastball but they aren't going to get far in the older age groups. Don't set them up for a fall later on. Off-speed pitches can be a fastball throwers best friend. Mix a wicked change-up with a blazing fastball and now you have a pitcher keeps batters confused instead of getting roped.

Add a drop ball or curve to the mix and, all of a sudden, you have a pitcher that is dangerous at any level. The key to a pitcher being successful against higher levels of competition is the ability to keep batters confused. A batter who is guessing where the next pitch will be and what speed it's coming in at is a lot less likely to make solid contact than one expecting a juicy fastball down the middle. Fastpitch softball pitching isn't all about speed at the advanced levels. It's more about location and movement. Mix that with a blazing fastball now and then, and you now have a pitcher that's ready for anything.

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