Open Letter From Your Future College Pitching Coach.
What is expected of you and what you can start doing now to be an impact player as a freshman.
To my high school recruit,
Before you show up to your first college softball practice, there are a few things I need to tell you.
1. Learn to Love Running and Conditioning
The team can only go as far as your legs can take them. If you do not like running and conditioning, find a way to learn to love it. You will be doing plenty. It goes by much faster if you don't think of it as torture.
2. Have Weight Room Experience
Take weight training at your high school, watch YouTube videos, or hire a personal trainer. Having a baseline of strength and knowledge will keep you on the field and out of the training room. You can't help your team if you are weak or injured.
3. Locate Your Fastball
In college, your defense gets a lot more reps in practice than your high school or travel ball teams. Pitching for contact and allowing your defense to help you is how you will win most ball games in college. The batters you will face are much more disciplined and know how to lay off bad junk pitches. Just remember there is no defense against a walk or home run. Locating is key to keeping the ball in the park.
4. Locate Your Changeup or Off Speed Pitch
You have to attack the strike zone. Being able to attack with fast and slow pitches will get even the best batters out. The more successful pitchers throw all of their pitches at different speeds.
5. Efficiently Move the Ball Up and/or Down
Every batter you face can hit an inside or outside pitch if they see it more than once. Learn to move the ball up with either a rise ball, high screwball, or a well located fastball. Learn to move the ball down with a peel drop, turnover drop, or drop curve. To have a head start, learn to put enough spin on your fastball that it works like a peel drop.
6. Accept that You Don't Throw Every Pitch Well
This one is the hardest to explain to incoming freshman. If you can not successfully LOCATE a movement pitch more than 50% of the time, it is not a pitch we can use to win ball games. We can win ball games on 3 well located pitches: fastball, changeup and up or down pitch. If, you have not mastered these 3 pitches, practicing any other pitch will not help you win games.
7. Learn to Be an Assistant-Assistant Coach
Pitchers typically do not play another position in college. If you do find yourself in a pitcher only role, you will be expected to help the rest of your team get better in practice. This may mean you are feeding the pitching machine, throwing soft toss or hitting fungos. This will be a learned skill that your assistant coaches can teach you. Remember, you can't score runs on defense. Your team still needs to score runs in order to win games.
If you can remember just one thing. Just because you have signed your scholarship does not mean you have earned playing time. Signing is not the end, it is the beginning. It is so common to see players begin to slack off their senior year once they committed to a college program. Here is what I want you to do, look up the pitching records at our school and decide which one you want to go after. Keep setting goals and working hard. It's one thing to play college softball. It's another to have a successful playing career.
See you in the fall,
You Future College Pitching Coach
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