Thursday, January 31, 2013

Game strategies for ambidextrous pitchers

Young ambidextrous pitchers

For a right-hand dominant player, it is very important for the ambidextrous thrower to get experience pitching left-handed in games. Left-handed pitchers tend to get more time on the mound. 

For a left-hand dominant player, I suggest starting out pitching right-handed in a game, then switch to throwing left if needed.

From my coaching experience, alternating throwing arms between batters, in Little League (under 13), usually throws off the pitcher's rhythm.

My suggestion is for the young ambidextrous pitcher to only throw with one arm each inning

Start out throwing with the non-dominant arm, then switch to the dominant arm if needed. Be your own relief pitcher. This strategy makes warmup easier and you can focus on throwing strikes. Plus, you don't need a special ambidextrous glove to pitch!

Starting Pitcher

Number of innings | pitching strategy

warmup left
pitch left one inning

warmup left
start left one inning
warmup right between innings
switch to right the next inning

3-innings +
warmup left
start left one inning
then continue left if you are doing well
warmup right between innings
switch to right the next inning, or after pitching through the order


warmup left
finish the inning left

warmup left
finish inning left
continue throwing left, if doing well
warmup right between innings
switch to right the next inning, if needed


In a close game, pitch with the dominant arm. 

It's very important to get the first out.


warmup with the dominant arm, using a fastball and change-up

throw the ball low in the zone for strikes and induce ground outs

finish the inning with the same arm

If the game isn't close, then throw with the non-dominant arm to get game experience. 

Most switch pitchers, are right hand dominant, so they will be throwing lefty.


warmup and pitch left-handed

if you walk the first batter, then pitch from the stretch and work on your pickoff throws

finish the inning left


Game strategies for an experienced ambidextrous pitcher

Typically, an experienced switch pitcher will use the platoon advantage – pitching lefty to left-handed batters, and righty to right-handed batters. 

Early in the season, it works well to pitch only from one side in an inning. Start out pitching with the non-dominant arm, then change to the dominant arm when needed. This helps the pitcher to maintain rhythm and command pitches.

Some switch pitchers throw lefty in one game, then throw righty later in the week. 


Henry Knight - High School

Knight usually throws left-handed to lefties and right-handed to righties -- if he is scheduled to throw three or more innings. Sometimes he throws lefty for the first two innings, then switches to throw right-handed in the third inning. This way the hitters will not face him from the same side the second time through the order.

If he comes in as a relief pitcher, then he typically throws from one side only, since it is faster to warmup and stay sharp. Often he starts the game playing shortstop and comes in as a relief pitcher in the middle of an inning, so throwing right-handed is the logical choice. He does eight warmup throws right-handed, then focuses on pitching low in the strike zone to induce the hitter to ground out to end the inning. Read more

Aubrey McCarty - High School 

Ambidextrous pitcher Aubrey McCarty signed to play for Vanderbilt in 2014. As a sophomore for the Packers, McCarty pitched left-handed and right-handed in games. Here is a example: 

"Ambidextrous sophomore Aubrey McCarty pitched the second inning left-handed and struck out the side. He pitched the third inning right-handed, giving up a single, but again striking out three batters." 

Ryan Perez - High School and College

Perez pitches with the same arm for an entire inning. Last year he tried switching arms based on right-righty, lefty-lefty match-ups. He found that the inactive arm would cool down too much if he pitched with the other arm three or four batters in a row. Read more

Pat Venditte - College and Minor League

Venditte throws left-handed to lefties and right-handed to righties. At Creighton University, Venditte pitched in both games of a doubleheader against Northern Iowa, retiring the only batter he faced (left-handed) in the first game and then tossing a shutout inning (pitching both ways) in the nightcap. He also pitched two innings, alternating arms, in an earlier game against archrival Nebraska. Read more

"He gives us the ultimate matchup when he's on the mound, and he's what every manager dreams of having," Servais says. "He's a swing guy for us, predominantly a long set-up man. But he can close, and he can start." ( Read more

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