Both a Pitcher & Outfielder

by Gigi
(Hawthorne, NJ, USA)



My daughter (12 years old) was told by her coach (summer league) that she is a great oufielder because she can catch a fly ball & cover a lot of area. However, my daughter also likes and wants to pitch & her pitching coach (has had total of about 10 or more pitching lessons only so far)says she can be a really good pitcher with practice. My daughter is very athletic even at a younger age, she can run fast, she is left handed. So my question is, can she do both: Outfielding & pitching? Or should I let her concentrate on 1 position? She is also getting very good at hitting. My daughter's coach (not pitching coach) suggest I let her concentrate more on batting & keep her in the outfield more. I want an honest, unbiased opinion from softball coaches & softball pitchers if possible.

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Why not?
by: Coach Dan

Hi Gigi,

Thanks for your question. I do not see why she cannot do both. When you say she is working with a pitching coach, I assume that means outside the team's practice schedule and with a private pitching coach. Most players, particularly at a younger age, play more than one position. My daughter was a pitcher and second baseman. It will mean a lot more time to softball, meaning private lessons outside of the team's practice schedule. So to give you an idea what I am talking about, she had private hitting lessons, private pitching lessons and then also had the team(s) (travel and school teams) practices. In addition, she would practice her pitching at the team practice, but that was generally outside of the larger team practice. We would have the pitchers and catchers come a little early to get their throws in.

If she is developing her hitting as well, I would think that the coach would want her to know more positions than just pitching so he had the flexibility to play her when she wasn't pitching. To learn to play the outfield, she will need to know how to judge a fly ball, know where to throw the ball (this means properly aligning her feet when the ball is in the air and ready to throw upon catching the ball) and when to hit the cut off vs. throwing to the base directly. In addition, backing up is also extremely important. You will find that against the better 12U teams and certainly at 14U, outfield is extremely important ... last line of defense.

So, in short, I would have her do all three: learn to pitch, to see if she can turn into a strong pitcher (you can't have enough pitchers, especially left handed); learn a field position, in this case the outfield; and in either case, practice hitting, this will keep her in the starting line up.

Hope this helps,

Dan

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Both pitcher & outfielder
by: Gigi

Dan,
You don't know how relieved I am in your comment. Yes, she has a private pitching coach and you don't know how excited her pitching coach gets when she sees my daughter pitch to her (when she pitches a strike). So I will continue for her to get pitching lessons all throughout the year as long as she's interested so she'll be ready for next year. In the meantime, my husband, who used to play baseball when he was younger, will cont to work on her hitting & we can also take her to a batting cage. Thank you so much, I appreaciate it.

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One thing on batting ...
by: Coach Dan

Hi Gigi,

I am glad to hear that. They usually teach a new pitch a season so that the pitcher has full control over it before moving on to the next. Don't want to confuse them. I am sure your pitching coach has full cntrol over this. And BTW, most focus on speed initially and then adjust the release point to bring in the strikes. It is all about repetition.

As far as hitting, I hope your husband does not teach her the "rear elbow up" method I was taught as a youth (I am guessing he is younger than me) for baseball. Most hitting instructors will teach elbows down for softball. This is because the plane of the pitched ball. With elbows up, the batter has a tendency to drop the rear elbow through the swing. This is wasted motion if you start with elbows down. You don't want wasted motion when the pitch is coming from only 40 feet away. Second, elbows up can also lead to a swoop in the swing which will only lead to pop ups.

Good luck to your daughter. Hopefully she maintains her passion and goes on to many happy years of playing softball!

Kind regards,
Dan

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