Chapter 11: How to handle different types of weather when your pitching
HEAT: Heat is something all pitchers need to be prepared for as all will experience it to some degree. The heat problem is worsened by full length pants and protective helmets. Here are several things to do to help when heat is a problem in a game situation:
1) Warm up in the shade
2) Use a very wet cool towel on the forehead and back of the neck after every inning
3) Drink lots of water or a product like Gatorade
4) Stay in the shade between innings
5) Take your time between pitches
6) Use sunscreen and lip balm
7) The coach should have someone watch the pitcher very carefully. Look for anything unusual in their actions on the mound. Have them talk to the pitcher between innings. The pitcher must be alert and have clear focusing eyes. We had a pitcher win a tournament Most Valuable Trophy on a hot day and not remember any of the game at all two hours later.
8) Relax in the shade and continue to towel down and drink liquids after the game.
9) Some coaches mix water and ammonia with ice in a bucket filled with cotton towels. These towels are used on the forehead and neck for a very quick cooling. NOTE: The kids don’t like this because of the odor
10) Use a rosen bag to keep hands from getting to sweaty and wet.
1) Take a lot of time warming up in the sunshine
2) Once your arm is ready put a thick jacket on and leave it on until you pitch. Between innings and after the game put the coat back on
3) Wear mittens, not gloves, and a wool hat between innings
4) Drink warm liquids
5) Do not waste time between pitches
6) When you are done completely warm down
1) Keep a positive attitude in the rain, the ball will get wet and it is easy to loose focus. One must stay “in” the mind set and not let the slippery ball play with their mind. Keep a towel behind the mound to draw off the ball whenever necessary.
Sit in a safe place and stay dry until lighting has stopped.
1) Wear sunscreen and lip balm
2) Keep dust and or hair out of your eyes and face by wearing a hat if possible.
3) Watch for small dust devils. Time your pitches so they pass through any dust devils that cross between you and the batter.
4) You can actually use wind as an advantage with the movement of your pitches and your speed (assuming you are not going against the wind). Try to stay focus and work with it without getting frustrated.

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Why be a PITCHER?

Chapter 10: Why be a pitcher?

The incentive to pitch starts as a chance to lead a team, become well known, seek a scholarship, maybe turn professional and excel at a physical level others are not trained to do. Notice, these are all “It’s all about me” reasons? Are these kinds of rewards worth the many hours spent in training, set backs, injuries and missed social occasions? For some, yes. Are you one of these few that find the trouble is worth it? The only way to ever know is to try. But you must remember that few people are capable of becoming great pitchers and you may not be one of them. That is OK, we can’t all be stars and heroes. If pitching isn’t for you, there will be something else that is! Just keep checking your satisfaction level and accomplishments. If they aren’t still an incentive to keep going, stop and find something that is.
What we want to point out here is there are many other incentives that aren’t obvious to a beginning pitcher. Here are a few:
1) Life experiences
A) The best athletes don’t always get chosen
B) The best athletes don’t always win
C) Sometimes life isn’t fair
D) Your best effort may not be always good enough to win
E) Being very good at something can produce enemies as well as friends
F) You may be a special athlete but you are not better than those that aren’t
G) You can get along with anyone or argue with anyone, the choice is yours
H) Everyone is not “On your Team”
I) It does take a team to win
J) Umpires can be wrong but don’t expect them to admit it
K) It really is ONLY a game
L) Sometimes the less deserving get more of the credit than they should
M) Anger extinguishes the lamp of the mind and decrease your ability to perform
N) Relaxation is as important as training
O) Sometimes a coach can be wrong
P) Sometimes a coach can be right
Q) Decisions you don’t agree with may be right after all
You can say that, yes, this maybe is true BUT I don’t want my child to learn these too early in life. If your child is 8 years old they already have experienced most of these points through school, video games and TV. The extra dimension pitching gives them is that they can see the results of these truths play out on the field through a season. They will see that sometimes things can move in their favor rather than against them. Ultimately they will see that most things levels out in life.
2) Personal understandings
A) Practice really does pay off
B) You get out of something only what you put into it
C) A commitment to yourself should never be broken
D) Set backs can bring you and your family and friends closer
E) Knowing and enjoying when you have reached a milestone, goal or life accomplishment
F) You can be better than you ever expected
G) A commitment to pitching prepares you for the several life time commitments you will have to consider
3) A Part of a Bigger Picture Youth sports offer opportunities that are few and far between for many kids. I can think of MANY individuals that have used softball to turn their lives around. When you see a 16 year old pitcher that has a 8 month old baby in the dug out you are looking at what could be a hardship for this young athlete BUT it is also someone at a young age, trying to do the best they can rather than just giving up! There are, at least, two nationally known very good division one softball coaches who have boot strapped themselves out of dependency on drugs through softball. How many kids are not in gangs because of sports? How many inner city kids get in to college, how many can fit into the military because of sports training? And how many excel well enough to become role models to their younger neighbors? And then the cycle repeats itself. Pitchers are often stars. It is these stars that make the game attractive to the young athlete. It is these stars that lead the kids of today into a land of opportunity and away from negative influences.

Of all the parts of this blog this section is the most significant and has been my greatest pleasure to write. Thank you Brooke for showing me this through your career
Glenn Hofstetter

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SAFE Pitching

Chapter 9: How to be safe when pitching
The most dangerous part of pitching is a come backer. This is a line drive hit directly at the pitcher, waist high to head high. This is a very dangerous situation and can cause injury.
There are three ways to protect the pitcher from this:
1) ball placement within the strike zone
2) fielding drills for the pitcher
3) safety equipment
Ball placement: A ball hit up the middle without touching the ground until it has left the infield is the result of a perfect contract by the batter. They have hit the ball directly “ON THE NOSE”. To do this the ball had to be in a hitting zone perfect for the hitter’s location. If the batter was crowding the plate, that area may have been an outside corner. Batters find it easier to hit the ball on the nose if the ball’s path is straight. Fast balls with no movement, are what they want to see. If the pitcher throws more breaking stuff some batters, early in a count, may try to predict a pitch adjusting their stance and position accordingly. So the best defense against a come backer is the correct pitch selection and location. In youth sports I feel that pitch selection is the responsibility of the coach, pitcher and catcher in that order. A good youth coach, who has been around for a while, should have a “book” on the batters from the other team. As a teenager’s career unfolds it is possible to see the same batter over 100 times before college. If a record has been kept of the results of past meetings that include the pitch, if hit, and where it went, you can often duplicate good results by doing the same thing again. You can even warn the fielders in the area you may expect the ball to go just prior to the pitch. No catcher in youth sports can carry this info over the seasons in their head. For safety sake, if no other reason, pitch selection should be made by the coach. The pitcher should have the right to shake off any pitch almost all the time. Pitchouts and intentional walks are selections that should not be shaken. There will be times when a pitcher can’t get something to work correctly, or may have picked up an offensive signal or just doesn’t feel right about the selection. The coach should respect the pitcher’s shake off and discuss it later in the dug out. The catcher may have heard something also, perhaps a bunt sign has been picked up with a runner on. This is not the time to throw anything way off speed. If so, they should meet with the pitcher to exchange info. Selection is one thing but execution is the other. The pitcher must make the pitch work and place it where it is best. Practice makes this possible, lots of practice.
Fielding drills: Once in a while have someone stand directly behind the catcher with a ball. At the exact instant the catcher receives the ball the person behind the catcher should fake throwing their ball at the pitcher. This is done with every pitch. Sometimes the throw is made, fast and hard (for the pitchers level of development) and at the pitcher’s head. Do this about 10 times per practice, 2 or 3 practices a week. This builds an understanding for the pitcher that they can protect themselves and shows them the limits to the area they can effectively field. We have always said that unless a ball comes directly at the pitcher they should not attempt to field it. I also feel someone else should take high pop ups. If you can’t get someone to stand behind the catcher than try this; have the catcher put another ball in the back of their knee. Once in a while, the catcher should underhand toss it at the pitcher while their pitch is in flight to the catcher. Not as good a drill but much better than nothing
SAFETY EQUIPMENT: Pitchers helmets with clear face masks are sometimes used and are required by a fewl organizations. Be sure the helmet fits correctly, is well ventilated and completely dried between games. This visor MUST BE CLEAN and not scratched. If the visor does get scratched polish it out with toothpaste. In hot climates you might consider alternating helmets every other inning. You could poly bag one helmet and put it in ice, while the pitcher uses the other. Make a helmet change in between innings and repeat the process every inning. If the pitcher is tall, a stride leg pad could be a nice piece of armor If all of these recommendations are followed a quality pitcher getting a lot of mound time will have less that a dozen dangerous come backers in their career and will have the confidence to handle all of them.
RADAR GUNS Don’t use them. In youth sports they give you very little advantage. A good pitcher will cancel the advantage with their first pitch. There is still the cancer link to worry about and they cost money. Keep real good notes instead and you’ll get a much better result for the cash.

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Pitching Practice

Chapter 8: How to get the most out of your pitching practice

There will be days when you just don’t want to practice, how you handle them will depend on you and your goals, work ethic and commitments. These kind of days can’t be avoided but you can plan so they come up less often. Here is what you need to do:
1) find a catcher you can count on, actually a parent is best. The chemistry between you and your partner must be (and remain) very good. Whoever you get, they must have a consistent available time when you do. Their schedule has to match yours. Don’t work with another pitcher unless you have to.
2) pick a time that is most likely not to be interfered with. If possible, make it just before dinner or in the evening when it’s cooler. If you have to throw during the day try to find a location with shade. Bring suntan lotion
3) pick a location that is always available, SAFE, not too public, and well lighted. If possible, its surface should to be the same as you play on. Bring water and towels. Always have a cell phone available.
4) decide how often you will practice weekly. Better to start with 3 days and move up to 4 or 5 than to start at 5 and suffer burnout. Plan the same place, partner and time for EVERY PRACTICE.
5) look at the practice as a stepping stone to a fun career, not as a job. Use the hints under practice boredom to help you enjoy your time.
6) some folks like to have music when they practice, some don’t. Do what fits you best.
7) ware comfortable clothes fitting to your sport.
8) you will find the same people come to the area each day when you do. As you get better they will take notice and may even bring someone to watch you. GREAT !!!!! Don’t be embarrassed or shy. But don’t be cocky either…just friendly and confident!
9) be sure to warm down completely.
10) on the way home mentally review how things went so you can make adjustments if needed.

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