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Softball Pitching Fundamentals: Mechanics and Muscle Memory


An article about softball pitching fundamentals is the first article in the Beginning Pitcher section for good reason. Good pitching boils down to good mechanics, and good mechanics are gained through practicing with good mechanics over and over again. Those of you new to pitching may not have heard the term muscle memory yet, so let me take the time now to explain to you what it is. It's something you're much better off learning about as a beginning pitcher than as an experienced pitcher who already has ingrained bad habits.

What is Muscle Memory and How Is It Tied to Softball Pitching Fundamentals?

Muscle memory is the ability of the human body to learn an action or motion through repetition. When a particular movement or motion is repeated time and time again, muscle memory begins to build and soon the body is able to perform the task without the person undertaking it having to think consciously about it. Muscle memory comes into play in a lot of things we do daily, like driving, playing video games, walking and, yes, playing softball.

Muscle memory is a big part of the reason we don't have to relearn how to throw a softball and swing a bat every time we step onto the softball field. We've done these things so many times the body remembers how to do them and takes over. This also comes into play with softball pitching, as the more reps you do, the more muscle memory is gained and the less you have to concentrate on mechanics. This allows you to focus on other things, like location and movement pitches, which require changes to your mechanics.

To put it simply, muscle memory is the reason why you need to practice so much to get good at skills like pitching. If it wasn't for muscle memory, people would step on the field and either be good at pitching or not good at pitching and that would be it. The only people able to pitch would be those who were naturally inclined to be pitchers. With muscle memory, you're able to level the playing field through practice.

Practice Make Perfect, But Only If It's Perfect Practice

This title of this section is something a pitcher needs to keep in mind from the beginning days of their pitching careers, all the way through college or beyond, if they decide to pursue it further. You can practice every single day of your life and not get any better if you're practicing bad softball pitching fundamentals. In fact, you can make yourself a worse pitcher or do permanent damage practicing with bad fundamentals.

Learning the correct way to do things from the beginning will make life a lot easier on you- and your coaches later on down the road. Ingrain good mechanics from the get-go. This is where having a good pitching instructor can come into play, because they've been around pitchers long enough to be able to see the little stuff that you're doing wrong. Little problems can quickly balloon into larger problems that can become bad habits through muscle memory.

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