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Teaching a Player's First Movement Pitch

To possess a movement pitch of any kind requires patience, perseverance, and the ability to work from ground zero.
Every individual instructor may have a different approach in how to begin teaching a player a movement pitch. For Morgan Dennis, owner of High Heat Softball Training Center in Creedmoor, North Carolina, it begins with laying out the process in full to both player and parent alike.

With each new student, Dennis likes to take a good look at a pitcher’s fastball mechanics first and foremost.

“We want to make sure she has a solid fastball motion, that her mechanics are good and strong and that when we start changing them for the different pitches, with different wrist snaps and different strides, that the fastball is always reliable and she can always go back to that,” said Dennis, who has been coaching players across the country since 2001.

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Caution should be expressed when such an endeavor is taken on by a player, and factors such as age and body frame should always be factored into learning a new pitch. 

For example, younger players are often not able to bear the rigors that such pitches put on the body and could succumb to injuries much easier.

In an effort prevent this, Dennis takes a slow-and-steady approach to teaching a new pitch. 

“In terms of their bodies you have to do it slowly and with the right progression so that their bodies have time to learn the mechanics,” she said. “It’s all muscle memory. You have to get it so that their bodies do it without having to think. That just means lots and lots of repetition.”

Teaching each step of the process slowly allows a player to focus on the individual aspects of a pitch, breaking down the anatomy of it all one small step at a time.

Each precise movement of the pitcher needs to be in sync in order to execute with precision, while ensuring that the body is not put in a position to ultimately fail alongside the pitch.

“We start all breaking pitches the same way, with wrist snaps and that part of the motion,” said Dennis. “Then we back them up and we teach them how the stride comes into play, and the hips and the drive off the mound and the follow through. We really break it down for them so that their bodies learn the mechanics really slowly and have time to develop strength in the right positions to support the movement of the pitch.”

Every player is different and will adapt and work at different paces, but for each who wish to learn adding to their repertoire, having strong fastball mechanics and the patience to take it step-by-step is a great place to start.

From GameChanger and Craig Forde.

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