Middle School Softball 43' or 40'

Discussion in 'General Softball' started by imabuki, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. imabuki

    imabuki New Member

    Hello, My daughter pitches for a 14U summer team and the distance is 43'. Up until this point (she is 13) she has been at 40' including her 7th/8th grade team for her local catholic school. I was going to contact the diocese about pushing the Varsity (which is 7th and 8th graders) back to 43' because that is how these summer 14U leagues/tournaments are set up. Then, I went and searched the OHSAA rule book for verification that middle schools are at 43' only to be shocked it is 40'. So, I am no longer going to see about getting the distance moved an additional 3'. My question for the parents is how is that transition for your daughter when it comes to pitching? My daughter is her teams main pitcher both for her school team and summer team, She struggled a little bit more at the start of this summer. Obviously, I do not feel alone since many other kids have this same issue to overcome. Maybe it really isn't a big deal? Although I have seen on her summer team from last year a girl pitch and she was exclusively 43' and she struggled at 40'. My bigger concern is struggling from 40' to 43'. Anyway, I appreciate you letting me ramble on. Any thoughts or experiences you can share would be helpful.
  2. daboss

    daboss Active Member

    The change in distance is different for every pitcher. Most have no issues. It has been my experience for those having trouble to be mainly in their heads. If they have overheard or heard derogatory remarks about the distance being different they tend to hang on to that mentally and struggle with change. In many cases this comes from somebody they have established a respectful relationship such as a pitching instructor, coach, or parent. It may take an authority figure that ranks in her psychic at/in the same level to help her break thru this mental block. Once she actually started struggling for any reason it simply enforced her belief of the difficulty to adapt and overcome.

    Let's be honest; the main issue from the 3' difference is height at the plate. Yes, there is also the slighting of difference side to side but that issue is dealt with daily as she seeks to find the corner the umpire will allow. Angle of approach is commonly dealt with regardless of the pitch thrown. Fastballs and her change up are effected due to speed factor and natural spin. Remember, the fastball correctly thrown is actually a drop ball because of the downward spin. 3' is not going to define a pitcher, especially in that age range.

    Evaluate the issue with open eyes. If her control has her all over the spectrum at 40' yet at 43' she seems in a groove, that's just the opposite of what should happen. At the closer distance the issue would be she is throwing more strikes but deeper over the plate instead of painting the corners. If she is normally throwing strikes at the knee at 43' then in most cases she'll be a little high in the zone vertically, hence more strikes again-------just up in the wheel house. Overthrowing spin pitches happens a lot to pitchers transitioning from strength and growth spurts. This is very common in that age range. We need to enforce the spin pitches spin more to adjust to the velocity that may be newfound as they get stronger/older.

    To summarize; it's normally a mental thing. Actual point of release in any pitch is something that is dealt with daily at any age. They have the ability to adapt--------if they believe they can.
    nwbackstop and imabuki like this.
  3. imabuki

    imabuki New Member

    Thank you, her change from 35' to 40' plus adding in the 12" ball made very little impact on her. So, I am sure I am making more of this than I should....but I just wanted to be ahead of this. You are 100% about it being mental....so, I really won't even discuss it with her unless she brings it up. If she can add 5' (35-40) and a new ball with no issues than I am sure 3' will not be an issue. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.
  4. DLamb

    DLamb Member

    You may find some 7/8 grade fields using 43’. I believe club teams can use 43’ and sanctioned teams have to use 40’. Our pitchers adjusted nicely game to game.
  5. daboss

    daboss Active Member

    Just for giggles I'd like to respond to transitioning from 11" ball to 12" ball. Thank you for the kind words by the way. There's many ways to interpret a post and my intention is never to hurt anyone. Some can be sensitive to my answers but I try to be respectful, especially to concerned parents having their child's interest as such a priority.

    Many instructors never teach pitching with an 11" ball. no matter the age, they use the 12" ball for a variety of reasons including encouraging the kids to stretch their fingers over the larger ball to help strengthen the grip. Even older girls are some times made to use an old "Chicago Style" slowpitch ball that's 14" or 16" in size. Not sure of the exact measurement. Years ago it was very popular in the Chicago area to play with these huge balls rated with lower core and compression and normally played in fields with much shorter fences. You should try to hit one hard some times. It was like trying to hit a cantaloupe out of the park! Anyway; I understand the concept of practicing with a larger ball-------i simply choose not to do it myself.

    My instruction deals with getting the girls to properly hold the ball with comfort and work on having a loose wrist with control to promote spin and wrist snap. By stretching the fingers you can get a stronger grip but it also can promote a locked wrist. This can effect both a forward snap as in the fastball and side snap in spin pitches like the curve. I'm big on movement. Let's be honest; some/many girls are limited physically on how hard they may ever throw. We cannot overlook this and people need to know many cannot overcome it and still have control. BUT, if a girl with average velocity can learn how to spin the ball and create movement she easily can be a front line pitcher at any level. I wish more coaches would listen to this because many are wasting their opportunities to cash in on some real talent. They are stuck with the mentality to "Blow it by them" instead of watching batters twisting out of their cleats trying to hit a breaking ball. Just like a good change up, you can make a hitter look pretty silly with a good breaking ball.

    I have girls using a soft ball like a racket ball (personal favorite) or doggy chew toy, something with light resistance, and keep it with them all the time. While watching TV or playing on the computer, riding a bus or in the car, simply take it in hand and practice squeezing it while flexing her wrist in the wrist snap motion. This builds up the fore arm muscles that will give a stronger wrist snap. Good for everything in this game. We want flexibility in this game and toning the right muscles can pay dividends for a pitcher-------or any position player. Conditioning is just that. Pitching lessons with me (my name) focus on mechanics and fundamentals. I want the girls using the size ball they plan to use for the season to get comfortable with it. Personally, I don't use the larger balls during our 1-hour sessions.
  6. Cougerfan

    Cougerfan New Member

    You should have your daughter practice from 43' all the time the extra distance will strengthen here arm and coming in 3' will only make her throw the ball harder. My daughter's pitching coach regularly has her throw from 60 plus feet. It helps her to stay tall and stride long.
    daboss likes this.
  7. daboss

    daboss Active Member

    I agree and encourage girls throw from distances exceeding the normal pitching plate to home distance for the age groups. I will caution you to not use this exercise with new pitchers or the young of age. I have many reasons to argue against but the main couple are related to mechanics and safety.

    New pitchers regardless of age are prone to break away from proper body positioning and correct "angling to target" to allow the rotator cuff to use an unrestricted motion when the arm swings thru the pitch. One of the biggest faults girls have is to "square up" to the target instead of maintaining an approximate 70 degree angle that will allow a free swinging of the arm to target. It's a human instinct to face the target, hence the squaring of the shoulders perpendicular to the power line and try to throw/deliver the ball. This motion/angling begins in the hips and you may have heard pitching instructors reference to the pitchers to "open the door - shut the door" meaning to stride to the target, then release and follow the delivery and finish with a closing follow through. Girls can throw square to the target. The problem is it will take a toll on the shoulder, possible injury, almost always wearing the rotator cuff, and at minimum promoting a tired or deadening arm that aches and possibly swells in the shoulder area. Any of this sound familiar?

    An inexperienced pitcher can easily break from her normal mechanics when trying to throw from long distances. I like the exercise but recommend they be monitored by somebody that has a working knowledge of the proper mechanics of a pitch. Straining to throw from distance should be left to pitchers that have successfully established proper mechanics.

    FYI, Jennie Finch could throw strikes from center field from almost 200'. Very few girls are Jennie Finch quality............

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