The question is, how do we make our pitches better? The answer actually lies within a series of questions coming from you directly. Whenever you are playing catch with either a pitcher or catcher, ask them about your pitches. The answer they give you, whether you like it or not, is great feedback.
This brings back the idea of playing catch with a purpose. Feedback is the best source of real time information you can get your hands on. As soon as you throw, let’s say a 2-seam fastball, your partner can tell you if it was good or not. So you ask how was that 2-seam? Did it tail arm side, cut to glove side, or stay straight? Did it start to sink? Your partner can give you the feedback you’re looking for right away. This let’s you know if you’re on the right track with the movement and feel of your pitches. If you’re throwing a change-up and it drops a lot, great. But if the spin looks like a knuckle ball rather than a fastball, the spin isn’t sharp. I’d say you have a decent knuckle ball but now let’s work on a change-up.
The spin is the next part. Let’s use a slider as an example. If you throw your slider to your partner, your question should be about spin. How was the spin? Tight? Loopy? What do you see, a big circle? A tiny dot? We want to have a tight, tiny dot on our slider. That let’s us know if the spin is good. This means we will usually have a sharper break on our pitch caused by the tighter spin which equals more rotation. If we see a big circle, then the pitch is usually somewhat loopy and doesn’t really fool good hitters. If it’s easy to see, it’s easy to hit.
Having good spin on your pitches is important because that is what the hitter is seeing. We don’t want to have a pitch that moves three feet. We want a pitch that breaks late and sharp. Having good spin allows that to happen. If we’re not getting the spin we want, then we look back to our grip, our release, and our understanding of how a particular pitch should be thrown.
Feedback. We have to ask questions is we want to get better. You can throw 5 shutout innings and you think you don’t need to really work on your pitches, but that would be a bad idea. You can still pitch well, especially if the competition isn’t great, and have terrible off-speed pitches with bad spin. We take the result of the game to help build our confidence on the mound, but the feedback regarding the spin helps build our confidence in each pitch we throw.