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How Much Should You Practice Pitching?

An EXTREMELY common question I hear from parents of new young pitchers is, “How often should my daughter pitch? How many pitches should she throw?” You may have started noticing a pattern in my answers to these types of questions: there is no “right answer” or solid number I can give you that works for everyone. There are, however, guidelines you should take into account, and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.

What Makes a Quality Practice?

“Quality over quantity” is a phrase I’m sure you’ve heard before, and it is an important key to a developing young pitcher’s practice routine. Generally, if a beginner/intermediate pitcher is throwing three days a week, that’s great. Four can be even better, provided that she’s gotten adequate rest and all four practices are quality practices. So what makes a quality practice?

  • Throwing more pitches isn’t necessarily better. A practice session consisting of 50-60 good pitches thrown with mental focus beats a mediocre 100-pitch practice any day.
  • In the beginning stages, understanding is more important than executing. You’ll likely find with a young beginner pitcher that one day she’ll be grooving pitch after pitch into the strike zone and the next day she’ll be throwing them into the neighbor’s yard. That day of great pitching means NOTHING if the kid doesn’t understand what results in a good pitch and what results in a bad pitch. Inconsistency at this stage is normal, and will continue until the pitcher’s muscle memory is mature. Make sure that during this stage the pitcher is understanding the mechanics and not just hoping her body will do the right thing.
  • Avoid pitching while tired. All pitchers experience some degree of mechanical breakdown when they’re tired. Young pitchers who have not yet trained their bodies much are likely to break down more when tired. In the stages when muscle memory is immature, you do not want a kid to pitch tired too often, because you do not want her to ingrain those poor mechanics into her muscle memory. Another reason to focus on quality over quantity of pitches.

Rest, Rest, Rest.

If you’re blessed with a daughter who just can’t wait to get out there and practice, make sure she’s getting enough rest. Recovery is just as important as repetition in the development of an athlete. If she’s really enthusiastic, try alternating skills; pitch one day, hit the next, work on throwing and fielding the next, then go back to pitching. As the athlete approaches age twelve, seriously consider balancing skills practice with strength training to ensure safe and balanced body development.

About the author

Carly

Carly is a windmill pitching specialist and co-founder of Fastpitch Power. After teaching pitching both privately and in clinics for many years in the New York tri-state area, she is now teaching in Pittsburgh, PA. She also designed and built fastpitchpower.com. Please feel free to leave questions and site feedback in the comments or via our contact page!

4 comments

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  1. Mark burlison

    Hey Carly, this article is about a younger pitcher. My daughter is 14u, what would be your recommendation for how often for her to throw and length. What would you do to break up the monotony of throwing? I do have to push her a bit to throw! We recently connected with a PC that was really successful in college and highly recommended by others. So we’re hoping for some serious improvement this winter! Ty for your time.

    1. Carly

      Hi Mark,

      For a 14U pitcher who is serious about competing, I’d say 3 times a week would be the minimum, though rest is still important so you don’t necessarily want to be going over 4. If her mechanics are pretty good, 100-120 pitches a practice is fine, and more could be ok too; pitching tired ALL the time isn’t good, but at this stage pushing her through one practice a week can be good for stamina, so she can learn to be as strong in the 7th inning as she is in the first. Though again, I’d still advise her to look at her results and listen to her body. If she’s struggling with a curveball (just as a random example), there’s no reason why she can’t isolate the spin for 50-60 repetitions and call that a practice. Or if her control is off one week, spend more time on the drills and throw fewer pitches afterward. Whatever feels like it would be productive.

      For a normal full practice, I’d start with progression drills to warm up, followed by 1 or 2 power drills—maybe your PC can give you some suggestions. Throw a few fastballs, then hit spots, then work on other pitches one at a time. End the practice with simulated innings, where you’re calling pitches and keeping track of balls and strikes. You can also break it up by day instead, working on power one day, movement pitches the next, and simulated batter situations the third day.

  2. CC

    Hey Carly! I’ve got twins at the 10u level that both pitch, but in games both of them tend to not reach their optimum speeds/groove until the second inning, and this is after I have given them a complete warm up. As a result I have had them pitch a tad more than most (30 pitches) after warm-up and before the first pitch. We usually throw 100+ pitches in practice sessions so I feel like I have built or I am building their stamina.

    We typically practice a couple times a week mixed in with a lesson, so they pitch 3 times a week(If everything falls into place). Does sound right to you? Any tips on how to keep them better prepared without pitching so much before games?

    1. Carly

      Hi CC,

      This is a great question and rather than hiding my answer in a comment, I would like to address it in great detail in my next article on Monday. Would that be OK with you?

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