​​What does my typical lesson consist of?

I expect my students to spend at least 15 minutes warming up. This includes stretches and overhand throws. For this reason, I recommend that parents bring their daughters early to my lessons so that they can use their time, instead of lesson time, to properly stretch and warm up. After stretching and warming up, I expect students to do drills before pitching from the mound. At times it is necessary to step down from the mound and do more drills. I will also spend some of the lesson time, as needed, to discuss body language, situation-specific pitching, attitude and focus – the mental part of the game.

What is the one thing I look for in a beginning pitcher?

Simply put, the student must be the one who wants to pitch. The parent cannot want it more than the daughter. If the student wants to pitch, she is coachable.

How do you know if you found the right pitching coach for your daughter?

Getting the right pitching coach can be a challenge. This is as true for beginning pitchers as it is for more experienced ones. The wrong pitching coach can be disastrous for your child. The right pitching coach can foster your child’s skill-development and love for pitching.

Generally, there are two kinds of coaches that can be wrong for a student. The worst of these is that pitching coach who only has a superficial understanding of pitching mechanics and fundamentals. This type of coach is likely to teach your child incorrectly leading to poor mechanics and/or injury. The likelihood of injury is increased when coaches rush very young pitchers to throw pitches that require hard wrist snaps, for example, teaching a rollover drop instead of a peel drop to a player who is too young. Why is this a problem? Because to correctly pitch a rollover drop requires a pitcher to have sufficient wrist and forearm strength to get the proper downspin on the ball, most young girls (usually those under 14) aren't strong enough so they compensate by using their shoulder. This leads to the "chicken wing" effect where their elbow separates from the body. This can injure a young pitcher's arm, including her rotator cuff. The other kind of wrong pitching coach is one whose instructional style just doesn’t fit your child’s learning style – a mismatch between
student and pitching coach. Therefore, the right pitching coach is one who is not only knowledgeable of pitching, but also able to communicate this knowledge to your child. This can only be accomplished if your child and pitching coach develop a relationship built on trust and mutual respect. I firmly believe that as a pitching coach the responsibility for building this relationship is mine. This is the main reason I try to make my students’ games. Seeing them in game-like situations also helps me teach them more effectively.

How often should a pitcher practice?

During the softball season, I recommend 3 to 5 times a week. This includes any weekly lesson(s) with me. The beginning pitcher is on the low side while the more experienced pitcher is on the high side of this count. But make sure that even the more experienced pitcher takes at least one day off weekly otherwise burnout is a concern.

How many pitches should be thrown per lesson or practice?

I recommend throwing no more than 120 pitches per lesson or practice. During my lessons, students typically throw about 80 to 120 pitches. This varies based on age, skill level and focus of the lesson. The day before my student is scheduled to pitch, I recommend throwing fewer pitches. Between 40 to 60 pitches with most emphasis
placed on drills and the mental aspect of the game. Regardless, there should always be some throwing the day before the game to keep the pitcher sharp.

What is the first pitch to be learned after a basic fastball?

After a pitcher is able to throw and locate the fastball with consistency, I introduce an off-speed pitch, the change-up. Then I begin to introduce a movement pitch, typically the drop. Depending on age, skill level or preference, this can be either the rollover or peel drop.

How old should a pitcher be before she throws pitches that require hard wrist snaps?

Generally – not always, a pitcher under the age of 14 should not be throwing pitches that require hard wrist snaps, e.g., rollover drops, curves, screwballs and risers. These pitches put a lot of stress on developing muscles, tendons and ligaments especially if thrown incorrectly. With the riser, there is another consideration. Most coaches agree that until a pitcher can pitch at least 50 mph, the ball will not rise or jump. It will simply start low and end up high in the zone, but it will not jump.

What are typical causes of injuries for pitchers?

There are lots of causes. Some of the most common, though, are 1) pitching from the open position (sideways to the catcher) and not closing the hips, 2) using the shoulder to throw the rollover drop, 3) bending at the waist when releasing the ball, 4) landing on a straight or closed foot when striding, etc.

How important is speed?

Speed is important but so too is movement and location, especially as a pitcher goes up into the older divisions.

How important is strength and conditioning?

This is critical but it has to be specific to pitching. Pitchers need to focus on their core (hips, stomach and back), legs and shoulders. Lots of running. Pitchers especially need strong legs for endurance. I also strongly recommend the use of resistance bands for flexibility. And I would be very careful about weight lifting especially bench presses. Pitchers don’t want to bulk up especially in the shoulder area as this tightens them up and slows down the ball. 


ome of the more common questions I have been asked by my students and their parents are listed below. My answers to those questions are just that. They are my answers. Some coaches may or not agree with me. That's okay. As coaches we sometimes have different views. Keep in mind that many of these questions cannot be answered by all coaches the same way, with absolute certainty, because many times there are no set standards. Just know that I base my answers on research, personal experiences, and conversations with other coaches and trainers I have confidence in.