Calling pitches in practice

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Jan 20, 2023
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I got benched from catching and now my daughter wants me to call pitches when she practices with her 9 box sometimes.

Any tips for how to decide what to call?

She has three pitches (FB, CU and drop)

How do I rotate and change locations?

If she throws a drop that doesn’t drop do I call it again, or move on? If she’s killing it inside but outside is a little too outside do I focus more on what’s working, or what’s not working?

How do you decide what pitches to call in the backyard?
 
Oct 1, 2014
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113
USA
General answer (from my perspective) is repetition with all of them. Once she can reliably hit her called spots with each type of pitch then we worked on moving from spot to spot and pitch to pitch working to achieve consistent and accurate results.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
7,146
113
Dallas, Texas
I got benched from catching and now my daughter wants me to call pitches when she practices with her 9 box sometimes.

Any tips for how to decide what to call?

She has three pitches (FB, CU and drop)

How do I rotate and change locations?

If she throws a drop that doesn’t drop do I call it again, or move on? If she’s killing it inside but outside is a little too outside do I focus more on what’s working, or what’s not working?

How do you decide what pitches to call in the backyard

Why are you practicing? What is your goal? Is it to improve location? Is it to improve the amount of break? Is it to simulate a game?

The ultimate goal is for her to move the ball in 4 inch increments around the strike zone. (The diamter of a softball is 3.5 inches, so round up.) The 4 inch increment is commonly called a "ball." E.g., "I want an inside FB one ball on the plate." This means a FB with the center of the ball 4 inches over the plate. (That is also the way she should think--"The umpire is calling high pitches one ball off the plate as a strike.")

If your goal is to improve location, you throw one type of pitch at various locations. If she is a newbie, you move the ball in a predicable pattern. Start at low inside, then high inside, high outside, low inside. When she can do this, then you randomly change locations.

If she fails to throw the ball to the correct location, it's no pitch, and she has to redo for the same location.

If your goal is to work on break, you throw to one location and use a string or barrier of some kind so she has to throw over the barrier and bounce the ball at the plate. (We used a lawn chair and a bucket. We laid the bucket on its side at the plate with the open side facing the pitcher. She hd to throw over the law chair and into the bucket.)

If your goal is to work on game simulations, then you call a variety of pitches at different locations. If she fails either in location or type of pitch, then it's a miss, and she has to redo the same pitch and location.

The easiest sequence have wide variations...low inside change and high outside FB, e.g. The hardest is minor variations.
 
Last edited:
Jan 6, 2018
226
43
I use excel to generate a column of random #s (like .268330) and assign all 0-9 a pitch and location. Then we pitch an inning where I get to say what happened on each pitch. If the count or game situation doesn’t really make sense for the random pitch call I’ll shift over a # to get to a pitch that makes sense. For example I’m not calling a fastball 2 balls off the plate on a 3-0 count.
 
Jan 20, 2023
270
43
Thank You Sluggers! That was super helpful. She only learned the drop 4 weeks ago as her first movement pitch. So we’re new to this. Before she was just locating FB and CU. But when she learned the drop - which drops really good- the CU got wonky- so now we’re trying to get them all working at the same time. (She’s a 13yo- so learning a little late but picking it up fast).
 
Jan 25, 2022
929
93
Thank You Sluggers! That was super helpful. She only learned the drop 4 weeks ago as her first movement pitch. So we’re new to this. Before she was just locating FB and CU. But when she learned the drop - which drops really good- the CU got wonky- so now we’re trying to get them all working at the same time. (She’s a 13yo- so learning a little late but picking it up fast).

Even if it's a few months down the road to sort it all out, if she has true command of three pitches at 13, she's not behind. She's ahead.

In your situation (if you haven't already) I would be sitting behind her and having her throw the same pitch over and over so you can gather data. And I'm just talking about down the middle. Can she actually land the simplest version of that drop ball 6-7 times out of 10? More? Less? Same with the others. Can she throw a fastball in the zone 80% of the time with a batter in the box? Yes? Can she locate it at the basic level Sluggers described? My numbers aren't intended to be rules. Just throwing some numbers in there, but none of those should be less than 60%. And at 60% you gotta be pretty choosey when deciding when to throw it in a game.

A LOT of parents or kids (and even instructors) say a kid has this or that pitch but being able to throw it only 20% is no better than not having it. Worse, even, because a kid trying to throw a pitch they can only land 20% of the time vs throwing a different one they can land 60% of the time is a poor decision on someone's part. We had a high school kid who believed she had like 5 pitches, but she really only had one she could land consistently. Mastering just one pitch can take years.
 

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