Updated: May 8, 2019
So, you’ve decided to be a world-class fastpitch pitcher. You’ve come to the right place! What you may not already know is becoming a collegiate level—or heck, even Olympic level—pitcher is just as much about mental preparedness as it is physical. You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to take the steps necessary and set aside the time to help yourself succeed. At The Backstop, pitching is one of our greatest passions. Over the years, our trainers and coaches have picked up a thing or two that we know leads to success as a fastpitch softball pitcher. Here, we share some of the most important elements of being a great pitcher.
Practice humility and dedication.
Great pitchers are also great teammates. Understand you are a part of a whole and practice sportsmanship on and off the field. Understand your role as a leader and work hard to do your best for your team.
Seek encouragement and support.
You can’t perfect the craft overnight. You can’t perfect the craft in years, usually! It’s important to have a great network around you to offer encouragement and support. Parents or coaches reading this, keep in mind that softball pitchers who are just starting out are learning. Oftentimes we see that parents and coaches expect too much too soon. An eight year old is still fine tuning so many motor skills, they can’t be expected to have the same strikeout percentage as their idols. Make sure they understand this, and ensure you’re offering positive feedback, even if everything's coming up balls instead of strikes.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Constructive feedback is great. Just remember to keep it that way—constructive. We recommend singling out one area and focusing on how you can improve this skill before moving on. Focusing on too many things at once is daunting and hardly actionable.
Did we mention this takes time?
Sometimes we feel like we’re really beating this one into the ground, but it’s important we hit it home (I know, I know…). This skill takes time. Try keeping track of success metrics and milestones. This way, you can better understand your progress. Set mini-goals on the road to your BIG goals. Measurement like this can keep things positive and help remind yourself just how far you’ve come.
Your mechanics matter most.
Practice, practice, practice your fastpitch softball pitching mechanics. Every day if you can. We have some tips here that can help get you on the right track. Focusing on the whole approach can help instill bad habits and poor form. It can also be more taxing on your arm and body. Help your muscle memory by repetitions of movements recommended by your pitching instructor. While you can pick up a great deal from a good pitching clinic or group class, working with a qualified pitching coach that you feel comfortable with is crucial. Be mindful of skills tips and advice from the internet (yes, we realize this is advice from the internet). You can’t always depend on YouTube. Working with a qualified coach with real-deal softball pitching experience is the best way to get the help and training you need. And, for parents or coaches, you should aim to learn as much about mechanics as your pitchers. They will need your help to stay on track!
Workout your brain.
We talk a lot about training the whole athlete. This is because we believe it’s the secret sauce to success on the field and on the mound. So much of the game takes place in your head. Whether you’re psyching yourself out, thinking of the best throw to make on a bunt when you’ve got a runner on 2nd, or deciding which pitch to throw to the lefty who swings for the fences, your brain is your most important tool. Sometimes skills practice means studying the game, reviewing tape, or practicing your mechanics in the mirror.
Remember why you started.
No matter where you are in your journey, keep in mind what you want out of it. No matter your skill level, if you work hard and are determined, you WILL succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and always believe in yourself.