In my 13 years of coaching softball pitchers, I've had a few players who just don't seem to improve. After a short discussion with the player and her parents, I learn that the parents have been making their daughter pitch 100 pitches per day, sometimes for an whole hour. And the parents admit this with pride! My first question is, how did you come up with 100 pitches per day?
I never suggest 100 pitches per day for softball pitchers. Here is exactly why.
Each pitcher is at a different stage of development. No one practice prescription fits all players. New pitchers have not solidified their mechanics. Pitching too much just makes bad motions stick around longer. Also, fatigue is the number 1 reason why pitchers use the wrong mechanics. One hundred pitches per day is way too many for younger pitchers (under the age of 12).
Pitchers over the age of 12 usually start to develop the body to be able to throw 100 pitches. If one is the primary pitcher, and she pitches three or more games in a tournament, extra practice will set her up for an overuse injury.
Pitching velocity also comes into play. The harder the pitch, the more stress on the joints, particularly the shoulder and elbow. Pitchers throwing 55 mph, regardless of age, suffer injuries more quickly if bad habits creep into their motion.
To avoid all of the above and ensure you are pitching enough, here are a few guidelines.
- Practicing 3 times per week keeps you the same; 4 days a week or more makes you better.
- Throw no more than 400 full speed pitches per week.
- Spend time on the basics. Going through the motion without pitching can limit bad habits without placing heavy demands on the upper body.
- Run, don't pitch, to improve stamina. Jumping rope is a great exercise to get in shape without putting the shoulder at risk.
- Lift weights all year long. Stronger bodies suffer fewer injuries.
- BEGINNER TIP : To ensure you are not over-practicing bad mechanics, use this pitching drill.
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