Everyone wants to be able to throw the ball harder, but this is no simple task. Improving your pitch speed involves challenging yourself both physically and mentally. As a pitching instructor for twenty years, I have found that there are three main elements that bring pitch speed to the next level, and it’s probably not what you’d expect:
1.Mechanics: Unequivocally THE MOST IMPORTANT part of maximizing your pitch speed is creating flawless mechanics. I have had some of my athletes add five mph in a week simply by cleaning up their angles and creating better alignment. If your car was out of alignment or in need of repair, you probably wouldn’t try to drive it a hundred miles an hour. Yet so many pitchers are trying to throw really hard with misaligned circles, bad footwork, incorrect snap, or other glaring issues. For some free information on some things you can do to improve your mechanics, go to www.flawlessfastpitch.com and sign up to receive some drills you can do at home. There you can also read the five biggest myths about softball pitching. These can help you to get your mechanics in order. With optimal mechanics, you are creating the shortest distance between two points (remember physics?). If your step is offline or your legs are collapsed, you will lose speed. If your circle is ten degrees off, you will lose speed. If your leg drive is inefficient or lacks explosiveness, you will lose speed. If you don’t have a good snap, you will lose speed. Don’t make the mistake of ASSUMING that you have a perfect motion or that your current pitching coach knows everything. Do your homework and really max out your efficiency. I always make sure that my athletes have perfect mechanics before we do any speed work.
2. Tempo: Once your motion is pretty perfect, you should work on your tempo or rhythm. Most of us have a natural tempo that we are comfortable with, but truly throwing as hard as you are capable of requires pushing your comfort zone. As Jillian Michaels says, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” You should always prioritize mechanics first, but after that, you should try to focus exclusively on speed for a while. I like to do this by using drills like rapid fire (where we see how many pitches can be thrown in 30 seconds and then try to beat that number). I also like to work on tempo in small groups by having my athletes compete against each other. This is a very good way of finding out who thrives under pressure. Knowing that you have to do better than someone else forces you to really step up your pace. I typically integrate this with HIIT (high intensity interval training) so that my pitchers understand what it feels like to really push as hard as they can.
3. Visualization: If you are rolling your eyes right now, stop it. As a certified hypnotist, I have had terrific success hypnotizing athletes to be faster and to throw more accurately. You can’t argue with the results. Since these athletes believe that they can do it, they are able to do it. This is why visualization is so effective. The mind has a hard time distinguishing between what you visualize in very realistic detail and what has actually occurred in reality. If you are the pitcher who is constantly saying, “I will never get faster,” then you won’t. If you take a moment and imagine what it feels like, sounds like, and looks like to throw five miles an hour faster, your mind will start to execute what you visualize. It doesn’t necessarily happen immediately. It is a process. You have to keep working at building this perfect image of yourself throwing the heck out of the ball. Nearly all Olympic athletes use some form of visualization for a reason: it is incredibly effective.
You are not throwing as hard as you can until you achieve optimal efficiency, optimal tempo, and an optimal mental state. These should all occur at the same level of intensity that you will use when throwing in a game. If there is a disconnect between your practice sessions and your game performances, then creating a competitive environment during practice is essential. In my new online pitching program, my athletes will compete against each other for a whole month. This is so important. There is no sense practicing your heart out if you can’t deliver the same performance in games. Get comfortable competing at maximum level so that you can easily translate that performance into game success. Integrate these skills and share your success stories!
|Julianne Soviero: Julianne Soviero has been a pitching instructor for over twenty years. She has produced countless award-winning athletes and dozens of scholarship athletes. She is also a certified personal trainer, hypnotist, and the author of Unleash Your True Athletic Potential. Her upcoming book, Empowered Recruiting, focuses on the recruiting and selection process for student-athletes. She has appeared in media across the country, including Fox and Sirius. She is available for private consultations, workshops, and speaking engagements. Visit her website www.flawlessfastpitch.com or go check out her Facebook page: Flawless Fastpitch and Twitter: Julianne Soviero|
This content is provided with a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. Feel free to use this content, so long as you give credit to Gary Leland, of Fastpitch.TV and link to www.Fastpitch.TV