Youth Pitching Skills
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
We want to make the batter swing the bat - The best hitters in the world only get a hit 3 out of 10 times at bat. That means they make an out 7 out of every 10 times they bat! So, as a pitcher, the odds are with you if you throw it over the plate and make the batter swing the bat.
Now, throwing it over the plate doesn't mean belt high, straight as a string. We'll talk about changing speeds, different pitches, and all that other stuff but we want the batter to swing the bat.
The one thing I want to stress to our pitchers is that they don't have to win the game all by themselves. We have eight other guys out there playing defense whose job it is to help the pitcher.
We want to throw first pitch strikes
It puts the batter on the defensive. You lose games by walking people - if the lead off batter in an inning walks he will score over 50 % of the time! You don't try to make the hitter miss until he has two strikes - once you get two strikes on him you can try to get him to expand his strike zone and chase a bad pitch.
Pitch to our strengths
If you're a fastball pitcher, when the count is 3-2, I want you throwing your best fastball. If you're a breaking ball pitcher, I want you throwing your best breaking ball when the game is on the line. If you get beat, I want you to get beat with your best pitch.
Work early in the count (we'd like to average 3 1/2 pitches a batter)
I don't want a lot of 3-2 counts. The fewer pitches you throw to each batter, it stands to reason, the more batters you can pitch to in a game.
Work to advantage counts (first pitch strikes)
The batter is on the defensive when the count is 0-2 or 1-2. He will often expand his strike zone and swing at pitches that are not strikes. He will, in effect, get himself out for you!
If we lose the advantage (fall behind 2-0 or 3-1), we call that "Challenge Time" - throw the ball right down the middle and let your defense bail you out. We don't want to walk people!
Related Pitching Materials
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