Pitcher vs. Clueless Coach

by jj
(mississippi)

I have a dilemma and need advice. My daughter is 14. She has been playing softball-and loving it-since she could walk. She decided at the age of 10 that she wanted to be a pitcher. Relunctantly, her dad and I found someone to give her lessons. He quickly told us after a couple of months that he had taught her all he knew-that she needed someone more skilled/advanced. So, we found a retired college coach and drove quite a distance every week for lessons. She quickly progressed and he immediately began insisting that she participate in advanced softball camps at colleges she potentially would be interested in. Needless to say, when she entered jr. high and was eligible to play school ball, she started as a 7th grader on the varsity team. NOW, my dilemma is that our high school coach knows absolutely nothing about pitching. Neither of her assistants know anything either. Our private coach and the high school coach despise each other. This makes it extremely difficult to communicate to the high school coach about what is working for her as far as pitching. I don't want her HS coach to feel we are overstepping boundaries by telling her how to have my daughter pitch. Her general technique is to just place the ball. She doesn't tell her to throw, for example a drop, rise or screw ball-pitches that her pitching coach believe are her go to pitches in combination with her fast ball(61 mph). Do I just sit back and hope for the best-teaching my daughter to just do what her coach says(which is what we have done so far). Or try to talk to her about the pitch range that my daughter has?

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Location vs. Pitch
by: Coach Dan

JJ,

Thank you for your question. If I am reading this correctly, the high school coach is only giving her a location. When the coach does this, what does your daughter do? Does she throw only fastballs? Or, does she then throw a pitch (fastball, rise, curve, drop, etc.) that achieves what the coach wants but also keeps the batter off balance? I would do a couple things. First, the dispute between your private pitching coach and the high school coach should not be a reason to draw you or your daughter in the middle. That is their issue, not yours. Next, I would have a conversation with the high school coach. It is important that you establish that you are trying to understand the high school coach's pitching philosophy, nothing more. You are not challeging him or his authority. Also, if all the coach is giving your daughter is location, ask him if it is okay if she uses her other pitches to achive the same end. So if he wants it inside, why not throw a screwball to a right handed batter? If he wants it high, why not a rise? There are a couple ways to skin a cat. It could be that he is trusting your daughter more than you realize. He could actually be saying, I want the ball in this location and you decide how to do that. In that way, she actually has more control than less.

If it turns out he only wants her to throw fastballs (given she throws 61 mph) that may not be optimal, and perhaps he doesn't know she has these other pitches. Again, coaches know so much. High School coaches less than you think, not because they are clueless, but because they have a very limited time to work with the players and get to know the ins and outs of every player. It does not happen over night. This is her first year.

This was a very long winded way of saying ... speak with the coach. He is new to your daughter. Your daughter and you are new to him. Again, you are speaking to him about understanding his pitching philosphy and to let him know of the full range of your daughter's abilities. I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

Good luck,
Dan

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pitcher's know
by: Anonymous

Your daughter and her catcher should know and learn what pitches to throw, to get grounders, a flyball or strike out the batters. It' easer if you call me my (505)453-2340 The fast pitch WHISPER.

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Response
by: Jj

This is her second year to pitch varsity. Our coach does not make herself approachable. I have tried. Maybe I should just keep trying. I appreciate your comments.they will be helpful.

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Different Approach
by: Coach Dan

JJ,

Some coaches want no parent interaction (they view it as interference). They feel that the player should be old enough by the time they get to high school to speak up on their own behalf. Instead of you speaking with her, perhaps it woudl be better for your daughter to speak up. I have no doubt your daughter will think this is a bad idea ... until she actually does it. You can ste her up for what to say, but she needs to feel like she can deliver the message comfortably. Again, she is not challenging the coach, but "exploring" other approaches to what the coach is telling her to pitch. Those "other approaches" include throwing a pitch that satisfies the location asked for by the coach. Again, if it is a pitch inside, instead of an inside fastball, perhaps a screwball will do. But your daughter will need to have the conversation. Hopefully, the coach will see this as her being an adult and respond that way versus see her authority being challenged and treat her like a child.

Another thought might be approaching an assistant coach to present the idea to the coach (assuming there is an assistant who is open to that sort of thing). In that way, it is coming from someone who the coach is comfortable with. Approach the assistant (or someone the coach trusts) with the idea of calling pitches versus location or allowing yoru daughter to throw a pitch that satisfies a location and see if she accepts that approach.

If your daughter cannot get a positive response; if there is no conduit to go to the coach and you cannot approach her, then I am not sure what else you can do other than grin and bear it.


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Response
by: Jj

Thanks so much for your comments. They have been helpful. Basically, she needs to be more responsible for her own communication. She is only 13 but I realize now that the Coach doesn't have time to communicate like "I" want her to...my dd just needs to take care of that and stop being afraid of her coach.

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