with Melyssa Lombardi, Oklahoma University Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach; 2013 National Champions; has coached five pitchers and three catchers to 15 combined All-American honors; five-time member of the NFCA Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2012)
High Performance Pitching: Mental Skills & Drills
At the higher levels of the game of softball, mental skills more than the physical skills separate the great players from the good ones. Pitching requires more mental toughness than any other position and the game often rests on the pitcher's shoulder. Melyssa Lombardi offers several strategies and drills to enhance performance when the game is on the line.
Performance skills - Coach Lombardi offers two segments of her pitcher's bullpen sessions: physical skills and performance skills. The performance skill segment is built around utilizing four mental strategies: breathing/routine, narrow focus, staying in the present, and accepting/adjusting. Coach Lombardi explains each strategy, and shows how each one helps calm the pitcher and keeps her focused, therefore helping to maximize performance.
Performance and numbers - Coach Lombardi's pitchers stay focused on performance by using numbers to grade the movement, location, and speed of their pitches. She explains the rating scale, as well as how to use it during practice and drills. This helps pitchers rate themselves on how they are throwing each pitch without worrying about mechanics, which can distract performance. Using these ratings can also help the pitcher and coach identify pitches that are working well, and those that need improvement.
Performance drills - In crucial game situations, the focus will often be on the pitcher, which can put her under a lot of pressure. Coach Lombardi offers four drills designed to help her pitchers understand their strengths and weaknesses, and to work through pressure situations. The more a pitcher practices performing under pressure, the better prepared she will be for the pressures of an actual game.
Conditioning drills - Pitching is a skill that requires the athlete to repeatedly exert near-maximal effort in throwing each pitch. During the course of a game, pitchers will often throw over 100 pitches, making pitching a very intense, cardiovascular activity. Because of this, it is important for pitchers to stay in peak physical condition. Coach Lombardi offers two challenging conditioning drills to build the endurance and strength to make it through a full ball game.
A pitcher who is able to peak under pressure is every coach's dream. Let Coach Lombardi show you the skills to get your pitchers to be at their best when the game is on the line! 71 minutes. 2014.
High Performance Pitching: The Change-Up
It is often said that hitting is timing, and consequently, pitching is disrupting timing. Oklahoma Associate Head Coach Melyssa Lombardi gives you an inside look at one of the pitches that has helped make the Sooners' nearly unhittable: the change-up. Coach Lombardi talks about three different types of change-up releases. She explains how to throw each, and offers drills to perfect the change.
Goals and Focal Points - Coach Lombardi opens her presentation with an explanation of the goals she has for her pitching staff. She identifies focal points for the change-up: release, arm speed, and the follow through. These are the keys to taking speed off the pitch, and allowing the pitch to have late break, which are important characteristics of a good change-up.
Types of change-up releases - Coach Lombardi introduces three different types of change-up releases-the flip, drop, and shove. She teaches each release using her own pitchers to demonstrate the mechanics of the movement. She emphasizes the importance of teaching more than one option to pitchers, stressing that different types of releases may work better for different pitchers.
Mechanics - Coach Lombardi moves on to the basic mechanics required to throw the change-up pitch. No matter which release the pitcher chooses, the grip should be fairly consistent. Coach Lombardi teaches two different grips for holding the change-up that will disguise it from opposing coaches and hitters. A good follow-through is important because it helps create the desired late break on the ball. The follow-through of the pitch will vary some depending which change-up release is used.
Drills - Coach Lombardi takes a pitcher through three drills that she uses when working on the change-up. These drills train pitchers use their awareness of body positioning to know when they're ready for the change-up. Lombardi also offers variations of these drills, and explains her philosophy of doing sets of small reps.
Troubleshooting - As with any pitch, things will occasionally go wrong with the change-up. Coach Lombardi discusses some of the common flaws pitchers encounter and offers corrections to help get her back on track faster.
The change-up is a crucial pitch because it makes other pitches look even faster. The change-up will help your pitchers dominate on the mound and will take your pitching game to a championship level. 41 minutes. 2014.
High Performance Pitching: The Rise Ball
Melyssa Lombardi explains a pitch that has been key to the success of the Oklahoma Sooners pitching staff: the rise ball. Coach Lombardi breaks down many facets of the rise ball, including proper mechanics, drills, and strategies for when, how, and where to throw the rise.
Rise ball basics - There are three keys to a good rise ball-correct spin, speed of the pitch, and late break. A rise ball featuring these elements will put pressure on a hitter. Coach Lombardi explains the benefits of the rise ball, and how it can make other pitches look even better.
Fundamentals and mechanics - Coach Lombardi provides an in-depth explanation of the proper mechanics for throwing a good rise. Watch as she teaches one of her pitchers how to grip the rise with either two or four seams. The correct grip, body posture, and getting into a good position at release will assist the pitcher in throwing a late-breaking pitch with good backwards spin. Coach Lombardi identifies some common mistakes associated with throwing the rise and also gives suggestions for correcting typical problems.
Drills - Coach Lombardi offers several drill progressions, with variations, for throwing a great rise ball. The pitcher starts by throwing spins to themselves, progressing to throwing to a catcher while isolating the upper body, and gradually moving farther and farther back and incorporating more of the body. By isolating parts of the body and gradually incorporating more, the pitcher can focus on how the correct execution feels for each part of the body before putting it all together.
Throwing the rise - It is often said that the most important thing in pitching is location, location, location. Coach Lombardi explains the three different levels of the strike zone for a rise ball, and when and how to throw to each level. Knowing and understanding the strategy behind how, when, and where to throw the rise will make the pitcher more effective on the mound.
Pitches that change planes are often very effective against hitters, drawing many swings and misses, because the bat is fairly thin compared to its longer length. Coach Lombardi will show you how to rack up the strikeouts by throwing a great rise. 50 minutes. 2014.