Tips for the New Pitcher

By Dan Hughes

OFFENSE

Do these, in the order listed (from most to least important):

1. Learn to throw a strike. All those fancy pitches are worthless if you can't throw consistent strikes. 

2. Learn to throw the highest allowable arc. High pitches are harder for the batter to time, and to hit squarely.

3. Learn to hit the edges and corners - inside, outside, short, deep. Note where the batter stands in the box and pitch to his weak spots. If he's deep, pitch short, etc.

4. Learn to throw a knuckler, left spin, right spin, backspin. And learn when to use them. Knucklers work best when the wind is blowing right into your face. Use left spin (counterclockwise) when the wind is blowing from 3rd base to 1st base (from your right to your left), etc.

5. Learn to pitch from the ends of the pitching rubber, and vary where you stand as you pitch. If the sun is behind you, you might be able to stand at one end of the pitching rubber to make the sun bother the batter more than if you pitched normally.



DEFENSE

1.  Self-defense is paramount. Pitchers are in more danger of line-drive injuries than any other player. No matter how fast you are, a line drive that bounces just in front of you can take a bad hop and hurt you bad.

2.  Wear a cup at the very least. Shin guards are a good idea, too, and many pitchers wear masks when playing in leagues with no bat limitations.

3.  Before each and every pitch, say to yourself "If it comes back to me as a liner, I'll throw it to ____ base, if it comes back to me as a grounder I'll throw it to ____ base."  Never let your concentration be broken.

4.  Back out of the box immediately upon releasing the ball, and stop in a defensive position before the ball is hit. 

5.  When you back out, back to the left or right rather than straight back. You don't want to be directly behind the pitching rubber when a low line drive hits the lip of the rubber, because it could bounce up to knock you silly.

6.  With weaker batters, I back to the left if my pitch is going to the left, and I back to the right if my pitch is down the middle or to the right. Often the batter slaps the ball right to where I've positioned myself when I do this. It feels great to move to the exact spot where the ball is going to come before the batter hits it.

7.  And learn where to run when the ball isn't hit to you - back up bases, cover bases, etc. Never just stand there and watch - go where you might be useful.

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    2007 Dan Hughes