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Step Progression for Fastpitch Softball

By: Ernie Parker

There are many different opinions as to when to start teaching a young pitcher breaking pitches. It's my belief that it's an individual thing. Some coaches don't believe you should teach a pitcher any breaking pitches before they're 14 or 15 years old. Some others think you shouldn't start teaching a new pitch during the season. I'll give you my opinion based on my experience.

As I said before, it's an individual thing, for example, Do you think an 8 year old is old enough to be throwing a drop, a curve and a back hand change? I have an 8-year-old that's throwing all those pitches. She is also learning the rotation for the rise. Have all my 8-year-olds been able to do this? No, they haven't. It's an individual thing.

I never pay attention to what part of the season it is, as to when I start teaching a new pitch. I start it when I think they're ready.

Do I think it will mess up their other pitches? It shouldn't if their mechanics are sound on their other pitches.
This brings up an age-old question. Which do you teach first, speed or control? The answer is neither. You teach mechanics, then speed, if they have good mechanics, they will have control.
I think by age 14, they should have a drop, change up and either a curve or screwball. By the time they're 16 they should have added a rise, or be working on it.

Notice I didn't mention a fastball. I think fastball should only be thrown in practice after age 12. If you want to progress to upper levels, you should get away from the fastball as soon as possible.

It's interesting travelling around the country doing clinics. Sometimes a pitching coach will send his or her best students to my clinic. Sometimes their coaches tell them not to go. I welcome having a good pitching Instructor look at my pitchers. Maybe they can show them something that will work better than what I have shown them. I certainly don't think I know all there is to know about pitching. I'm still learning and hope to continue to learn.

Softball has been very good to me; it has taken me to Australia, China, Spain, Holland, Italy, Peru, Canada, France and Germany. I'm telling you this in case some of you might want to get into doing Pitching Instruction.

The methods shown in my videos are the same methods that developed High School All Americans, ASA All Americans, Collegiate All Americans and an Olympic Pitcher among many other awards. They aren't the only styles of pitching, but they're the ones that have worked best for me.

Best of Luck to all of you.
Ernie Parker

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