Baseball Coaching Tips for Teaching Effective Pitching Sequences
One of the keys to being a successful pitcher is learning how to use effective pitching sequences. An effective pitching sequence is a series of pitches used to set the batter up and make them vulnerable to the strikeout. It may involve changing speeds, locations or a combination of the two. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Coaching Tips for Teaching Effective Pitching Sequences that will help a pitching staff keep the batters guessing!
#1 Changing Locations
If all a pitcher ever does is throw a fastball down the middle of the plate then they are in for very short outings. Even if the pitcher has a great fastball, the batters will eventually cause damage against pitches that are thrown to the same spot over and over again. Pitchers need to learn how to effectively change the locations of their pitches. A successful pitcher will learn to use the entire plate and even learn to throw pitches out of the strike zone to create an advantage.
#2 Changing Speeds
A great way for a pitcher to deceive the batter is by changing speeds. Throwing a fastball and then following with a changeup, slow curve or some other off-speed pitch will help throw the batter’s timing off.
#3 Using the Fastball to Set Up the Off-Speed Pitch
A very simple pitching sequence that is effective is using fastballs to set up the off-speed pitch. This sequence normally involves getting two strikes with the fastball and then using the off-speed pitch to fool the batter for the final strike.
#4 Using the Off-Speed Pitch to Set Up The Fastball
This pitching sequence is effective but a bit more difficult for a pitcher to master at the younger levels. The pitcher will have to have good command of their off-speed pitch for this to be effective. Instead of starting with fastballs, the pitcher will come at the batter with some off-speed pitches. The pitcher will then attempt to sneak the fastball by the batter for the final strike. This is an extremely effective sequence that can make a pitcher’s fastball seem much faster than it really is because the batter’s timing is being slowed down by the steady diet of off-speed pitches.
#5 Climbing the Ladder
This pitching sequence most often involves using just fastballs. The deception is gradually throwing the fastball higher and higher in the zone. It is harder for a batter to see the fastball up in the zone. This is especially effective against a batter that is a fastball hitter because they are more likely to chase the pitches that are up and even out of the strike zone.
#6 Inside to Outside
A pitcher may choose to throw to the inside corner of the plate to set up a strikeout pitch on the outside corner or get the batter to chase a pitch off the outside corner of the plate. Also by throwing to the inside part of the plate, the pitcher may cause the batter to move away from the plate so they have room to hit the inside pitch. Then by going to the outside corner, the pitcher will make it more difficult for the batter to reach the pitch and protect the plate.
#7 Outside to Inside
Pitching from outside to inside will do the opposite of pitching inside to outside. The batter in this situation may adjust to get closer to the plate. The pitcher then can sneak a pitch by the batter on the inside corner. A batter who falls victim to this pitching sequence is sometimes “frozen” and can’t even make an attempt to put the ball in play.
#8 Throwing Outside the Strike Zone
A pitcher who is able to effectively throw outside the strike zone will have great success. At the younger levels, this can be very difficult because a lot of pitchers are just trying to learn how to consistently put the ball in the strike zone. Those pitchers who do have great control can throw outside of the strike zone to create an advantage. This can be especially effective when a batter has two strikes. The pressure of having two strikes can cause a young hitter to chase pitches out of the strike zone.
#9 Throwing Off-Speed Pitches in the Dirt
A change up, curve ball or other off-speed pitch can be even harder to hit if they are thrown very low in the zone causing them to break or drop into the dirt. This is another advanced pitching strategy for a pitcher who has good command. And again a great time to try this would be when the batter has two strikes.
#10 Experimentation, Scouting Hitters & Unpredictability
Pitchers should always be encouraged to experiment with pitching sequences that they feel comfortable with and work for them. The coach, pitchers and catchers during games should scout opposing batters for weaknesses that they can exploit in the future. To stay successful, a pitcher will also want to develop unpredictability. A pitcher should absolutely use what works but should also try to put new wrinkles on old tricks when it comes to pitching sequences.
Some successful pitchers are able to overpower batters with blazing fastballs and devastating curveballs. Not all pitchers are blessed with the physical capabilities that allow for overpowering “stuff”. So, other successful pitchers are able to keep batters off balance and fool them. However, even the most gifted pitchers can not simply throw a fastball to the same spot every time and be successful. With that said, it is important for all young pitchers to learn how to use location and change of speed to their advantage.