Young fast-pitch pitchers' peak

Young fast-pitch pitchers' peak

Post by Hobdbc » Wed, 16 Apr 1997 04:00:00


This is a request for input which may be subjective, so the background is
both fact and attitude. (Sorry about the long post - needed to set the
framework to elicit the desired kind of response.)

I am trying to expand on some anecdotal observations gleaned from several
years of analysis, and would like some observations from other experienced
persons:

Background:
     The new season has brought its usual growing hope for that crop of
barely experienced parents and coaches, and gotten me cranky again. For
the ump***th time I have seen four*** and fif*** year old pitchers
touted as the greatest thing since peanut butter.  For the ump***th time
I have seen coaches bench very good senior pitchers to put in freshman,
who really are great as freshman but clearly lack the speed, accuracy, and
ball action of the seniors.  For the ump***th time I have seen a coach's
hope he will have a miracle pitcher to pull his program into four years of
glory without his having to work, and seen that "take a pill for a quick
fix" approach interfere with the need for hard work and team building.

   So, the question is not whether to *** the next plumber who tries
to advise me on pitching, or whether to put the aluminum where the sun
does not shine in the ignorant coach who demands a kid change from their
fav bat after five years of 400 hitting, this post has to do with the
peaking of pitchers. Now on to the more technical stuff.

Observations:
    The technical position is that the softball is accelerated using
certain physical properties of the pitcher and the ball.  The force
capacity and physical limits of the human body are fairly well documented,
in fields of study both in and not in sports. In reviewing and preparing
technical papers on muscle and pitching, it is obvious additional strength
is not the major factor in improving softball speed or ball action.
    The logical position is that once the body is technically correct in
its delivery of that energy, only slight improvements can be made.  Unlike
males who throw overhand, the women who throw underhand do not rely on
still developing muscle mass. They improve by training the important
portions of existing mass.
    The experience is that there is a comonly accepted logical
fallacy---i.e., most untrained persons see a freshman improve markedly,
and assume all freshman improve markedly.  A great number improve, but
technically and to a relatively common level.
     My experience is that for years those freshman and sophomore phenoms
have been nearly perfect technically at the younger age, but ball action
and velocity have not improved from time of "discovery", and they actually
have been surpassed in that ara of prowess by their age peers.   This is
consistent with what has been found researching the technical aspects of
pitching softball.
     Locally, we are now seeing kids pitching technically correct in the
seventh grade, and they are on varsity teams. These kids began fast-pitch
pitching in the 4th grade.  The local freshman phenoms began pitching in
the 6th grade.  A local 10th grader of two years ago, featured on the
local TV as having a perfect delivery, began in the seventh grade, and
(having seen her while on my analysis schedule twice a year each year) has
not improved at all since late tenth grade- but she still has a perfect
delivery and pitches year around.

If you could drop me a note on your observations/feelings on the
following:
    What are the observations of the NG as to this "plateau" effect?  Does
an objective look at our history indicate most female fast-pitch pitchers
reach technical excellence in a relatively predictable time and plateau?
If so, does this imply we are losing great pitchers who may develop
coordination later, e.g., tall kids, to promote phenoms.
     Especially, cutting through the "press" and the "wishful thinking"
---regarding any technically correct pitchers who were 8th grade or
freshman with three or more years experience at that time you saw them,
have they markedly improved with age or have they been matched by their
peers?
     Are those you NOW consider those phenoms of two or three years ago
the pitchers you would least like to face today?
     And if you could choose, what body type of pitcher do you least like
to face? (Tall, short, stocky, thin, short arms, long arms, etc.)

     Thanks for any input --  if the sum of the inputs I receive indicates
conclusions other than that set out above, I will post it shortly.

 
 
 

Young fast-pitch pitchers' peak

Post by DGrup » Thu, 17 Apr 1997 04:00:00

Well, where do you start?

In my experience, the physical size of a pitcher doesn't always mean that
she is any better or worse than a girl smaller in stature, larger around
the mid-section, or gets lost when she turns sideways. So the physical
side is out.

6th, 7th, 8th grade girls who seem to have it "all", according to their
parents, usually don't. You'll probably have to look at 20 kids before you
find one that has anything that can help your program. Do they throw
harder than the seniors? Doubtful.
Do they throw any smarter than the seniors? Doubtful.
 Have they reached a plateau after one or two years of high school ball?
Doubtful. Is the level of coaching to keep the new as well as the older
girls enough to keep them learning how to pitch? Probably not based on
what you seem to be seeing.

True, some girls reach a level of speed at a certain age and never throw
with much more velocity for the rest of their careers. What the older
girls, who are well coached, will practice endlessly, is working on
location, ball movement, location, pitch selection, location, various
speed pitches and location. Sure it's nice if you've got a kid that can
throw 60mph and blow most kids off the plate, but even where I live, 60mph
will get tagged after one time through the lineup. So how do you keep that
kid in the circle for more than three innings? Location, ball movement,
changing the speed of the pitch, and using your head, that's how.

Out here, there a very few absolutely dominated pitchers. Everybody knows
everybody and everybody knows what that girl likes to throw, where she
likes to throw and what her favorite finishing pitches are. What keeps it
interesting is when she learns a new pitch, a new location, or masters a
pitch she has been practicing. And these girls are in their junior and
senior years of high school!

So, I wouldn't get too upset about the parents, because they are
narrow-minded, biased, and basically unfamiliar with the sport when
looking at the bigger picture.
I would get busy with the coaching staff about how they develop ALL of the
girls.
Get out there and help out if you have to. Most of the time, that is a
coach's problem. Not enough help when needed.

The answer to your original question, I think; No, they don't peak. They
just get smarter.

Later
Dave
DGruper