Is Hiding the Ball Necessary?

A lot of coaches want pitchers to hide the ball.  Is that important?  It can be, but it may depend on the pitcher.  Let’s ask questions that nobody is asking.

1-If you look at pitching stats historically, most of the greatest pitchers did not hide the ball, but took full backswings.  But, they had great ways to hide their intentions, as we will discuss

2-If everyone has exactly the same form, are we creating a sameness that makes it easier for hitters to time the ball?  In other words, if everyone comes straight out of the glove, the eyes and brain become accustomed to that normal.  Humans are incredible at adapting to anything that is normal.  Maybe we should create some unpredictability.

3-The next argument for hiding the ball is that the third base coach will identify the grip and quicky signal the batter as to what pitch is coming.  There is more than one way to defeat that.  We teach all of our pitchers to use the same grip on two or three or even four pitches.  Counter-intuitive?  Of course.  Counter-productive?  Not a bit.  Take the 3rd base coach out of the theft of signals.

4-There is a feeling that the longer the hitter gets to see the ball and arm swing, the more they can time a pitcher, right?  True, if the pitcher is predictable.  If all pitchers come out of the glove and have exactly the same form, you can time that as well.  Your pitcher should have a variety of speeds and can even train herself to change speeds with various pitches.  The best thing in the world is for batters to guess ball speed based on arm speed, unless….unless…you don’t know how to change speed without changing arm speed.  That is far more harmful than showing the ball.

5-Are there better ways to throw off a hitter’s timing?  Yes.  I can think of three immediately.  Be creative. 

And, before you think that I want everyone to have big backswing or certain approach, let me clarify.  Different body types, different mindsets, and even different personalities will prosper with different approaches.  I am perfectly happy with no backswing, but we have to train slightly different movement patterns. 

I have met too many kids who were stuck in positions that did not work for them.  Their performance suffered, their confidence suffered, or they were suffering with injuries.  Be the best you that you can be.  Be open-minded, and if your coach wants something different, be respectful and freely discuss it.  Give it a good try, but also give that person some options so that both of you can find the success that you want.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *