An Introduction to Youth Pitching
Most sports have one position that everyone wants to play. For softball, that position is pitcher. Especially on youth teams, the pitching circle gives off the glow of a treasure box overflowing with gold — much like the quarterback in football, it’s the spot to shine. However, there’s a big difference between wanting to pitch and being able to pitch.
Fortunately, youth softball is all about teaching the sport’s youngest players the game, which means that anyone who wants to try pitching will likely have the chance. This softball guide is aimed at giving coaches an introduction to pitching: What’s required, what it takes to excel, and what it means to be a pitcher.
On a youth team, every player probably has more energy and enthusiasm that you can handle. That being said, any player who you think has the potential should definitely be given the chance to throw.
When you are evaluating players for potential pitching abilities, look at these specific traits:
- Love for the sport
- A great attitude
- Willingness to work
- Not a complainer
- Takes practice seriously
- A hustler
If a player has even just a few of these qualities and she is interested in pitching, give her a shot. The girls who really want to pitch will take it seriously enough to excel in the circle.
The Skills Required
With the right attitude, an established pitcher will do amazing things in the circle. However, becoming an established pitcher means a player first needs to have the skills needed to be a pitcher. Below are the two most important skills you want to look for in aspiring pitchers:
- Knowledge of the game: Even at an early age, potential pitchers should know their role: Throw the ball across the plate. It may seem like common sense, but the player who wants to pitch just to be in the spotlight isn’t as valuable as the pitcher who wants to do well for her team.
- Strong focus: Young pitchers will need to be able to retain a lot of information, so being able to focus is crucial. If one of your players wants to throw, but can’t listen to you talk for more than one minute, you may want to wait a season or two before you get her started as a pitcher.
These girls will be on their own in the circle, so you want to make sure they can handle the added expectations and responsibility inherent in being a pitcher.
It Takes Time
Becoming a pitcher will not happen overnight. In fact, it may not even happen over one season. It takes months to become a pitcher, and years to become a great one. So your pitchers are going to have to know that pitching is going to take up one of their most coveted assets: Time. Whether it’s an hour or so during practice, or the three times per week that a pitcher needs to throw, she’ll need to be aware that she is going to need to practice...a lot.
A pitcher’s parents are going to need to dedicate their time, as well. It’s pretty difficult (not to mention inefficient) to practice pitching without a catcher, which means either mom or dad — or both — should be prepared to step in to that role.
It will also cost a little more money to become a good pitcher:
- Concerning the specific skills needed to become a top-tier pitcher, chances are good the coach and parents aren’t as knowledgeable as a professional instructor. So, private lessons will likely be necessary down the road.
- Likewise, purchasing additional training equipment — home plates, pitching mounds, catcher’s equipment, softballs, and other pitching equipment — tends to add up.
Dedication Can Produce a Pitcher
In the end, almost any player can become a pitcher. It’s the combined attitude, focus, dedication, and skills that will allow a player to succeed as a pitcher.
Many of the world’s greatest pitchers start at a young age, but that doesn’t mean there is an age that is “too old” to try. So regardless of their age, if you see a few potential pitchers on your team, give those girls a shot. And be prepared to invest extra time and effort into helping them develop! The confidence and faith you give to them now could be their ticket to a future college scholarship.