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What is “Overthrowing?”

How many of you pitchers have been told you’re overthrowing, or trying too hard? And how many of you are not entirely sure what that means, or don’t know how it feels to fix it? You’re not alone.

What does “overthrowing” mean to pitchers?

There is really no such thing as throwing the ball too hard or fast; everyone is always in search of more pitch speed. Yet overthrowing has a definite negative connotation. Why?

Sometime last year I was watching a baseball game the Orioles were playing in. Brian Matusz was pitching and Jim Palmer was commentating. Palmer said of Matusz that he’d seen him overthrow and hit 90mph, but relax and hit 92. I wrote it down immediately because I knew I’d get to it eventually!

Overthrowing usually refers to an inefficient use of your muscles during the pitch delivery. Your muscles can do many different things. Actions such as lifting a heavy box and sprinting really fast both require a lot of muscular strength even though they are wildly different from each other.

When you aren’t pitching as fast as you’d like to, often your natural reaction is to put forth more effort. However, the type of effort you put forth is very important.

Many pitchers, especially ones who are learning, will end up clenching their muscles. This will feel like more effort, and in all honesty it really is more effort, but it isn’t the right kind of effort. It may be the type of effort you would use to lift that heavy box, but if you think about it, you probably wouldn’t want to clench all your muscles before attempting to steal second base. That type of muscle activity slows you down.

What would you want to do if you were trying to beat your best time between first and second? You’d relax. You’d probably try to pump your arms a little faster, and you’d try to push off the ground a little harder. This is a lot closer to the type of effort you want to use when you’re trying to increase your pitch speed.  Relaxation is key to speed.

So when you’re pitching, think faster, not harder.

What overthrowing ISN’T

I think overthrowing means robbing yourself of speed by inappropriately attempting to get more speed. Regardless of what others might say, I do NOT consider overthrowing to be losing accuracy in favor of speed. Rather, I encourage that in a learning pitcher. You should NEVER slow down to try to get the ball into the strike zone. ALWAYS throw as hard as you can (while staying relaxed!) and work on your accuracy by strengthening your body and solidifying your mechanics.

 

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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