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How do you fix your mechanics when you’ve got games to pitch?

I was working with a student yesterday for the first time since last year as she spent the entire off-season recovering from an injury. We spend the whole time doing specific drills and she put in a really outstanding effort to smooth out the illegal hop in her drive through. After the lesson she asked me, what am I supposed to do in games?

Whenever you’re trying to fix something—whether you want to stop hopping, change to forearm fire style, whatever the case may be—it can be very frustrating when your team is also relying on you to pitch. No matter how much work you put in during practice, you almost always end up reverting to your old way in games.

Don’t be too hard on yourself; the reason for this is muscle memory. Your body has a particular way of pitching ingrained into it from all the practice you’ve done so far. Until your body is reprogrammed the new way, you must concentrate on the new way really hard. Since there are other things to think about in a game, and your team is relying on you to throw strikes, this can be really difficult. Reprogramming can take a while. If you’ve been pitching a particular way for 4-5 years, you’re not going to reprogram yourself in a day or a week. All of that is very normal.

So what should you do?

There is no magic solution to this problem, but these suggestions might make things a little easier:

  • Spend EVERY practice focusing on the change you’re trying to make, even if it means doing ONLY drills and not pitching full until you’re ready.
  • In games it might be unavoidable, but try not to throw a single pitch with your bad habit outside of games. Don’t progress from one drill to the next and from the last drill to full pitching until you are 100% ready. This is a tedious process but it’s the best method.
  • Every time your body does a movement it helps to program it in your muscle memory, so “dry runs” are also helpful. Practice your arm whip while you’re walking around. Practice your drive-through in your room at night. You don’t need to throw a ball; doing the motion with just your body increases your chances of doing it correctly.
  • Take it easy on yourself. You might find that your speed, command, or both are off during the transition period. That’s annoying, but it’s normal. You may have to sacrifice a bit of success in the present in order to really secure your future. Prepare yourself mentally to do that, and don’t get too down on yourself in the process.
  • If you’re halfway between the old way and the new way, come up with some kind of reminder or trigger to use in games to get you back on track when you revert to the old way. Maybe it’s a word or phrase you say to yourself, maybe it’s thinking about ONE part of the motion, maybe you do one dry run behind the circle before you get on the rubber… it can be different for everyone, so play around and find something that works for you.
  • The second your season ends, resolve to spend the entire off-season focusing on the problem.

About the author

Carly

Carly is a windmill pitching specialist and co-founder of Fastpitch Power. She has coached teams at every level from 10U to NCAA. She also designed and built fastpitchpower.com. Please feel free to leave questions and site feedback in the comments or via our contact page!

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