Hi everyone! My name is Karissa Hovinga and I am the National Director of Pitching for Softball with Area Scouts. I am SO excited and honored to be a small part of a company that I share the same mission and goals with. Being able to promote on and off-the-field health and wellness as well as continued on-field development for ALL kids in their prospective sport(s), made it a no-brainer for me to join!
Playing at the University of Oregon under an unparalleled pitching mentor in Mike White, I was fortunate enough to be part of very talented teams. Under his leadership, we were able to go to three Women’s College World Series’ and win three PAC 12 Championships. After I graduated from Oregon, I received my masters degree from the University of Minnesota. During my time there I served as the graduate manager for the Gopher softball program for two seasons. While in school, I was also a member of the Canadian National softball team. Today, I am still part of the National Team and am currently competing for a spot on the Tokyo 2021 Olympic roster.
What I find most important for player development is to practice a little, a lot. What helped me develop as a softball pitcher, was to try and practice 5-6 times per week. I found that practicing more frequently, even for just 30-40 minutes, is more effective than practicing for longer periods of time (60-90 minutes) less times per week. Throwing over 100 pitches each bullpen 2-3x per week does not develop muscle memory as effectively as practicing more often for less time.
Another way to help with growth in softball, particularly as a pitcher, is to objectively track your progress. Identify specific goals you have for yourself relating to pitching and track those goals on paper. That way you can see where you stand with your priorities as a pitcher.
For example, if I am working on locating my fastball I want to make sure that 8 out of my 10 fastballs are well located on the outside corner. Once I accomplish that, I can move on to throwing my next sequence in a particular bullpen. If I am working on being able to command my changeup, I will challenge myself by trying to throw it for a strike on a 2-0 count 7 out 10 times over the course of three consecutive bullpens before I can learn/add a new pitch.
After you set a specific goal, you can track where you stand on that goal then move on once you’ve mastered it. This way, there is no gray area in your skill acquisition, and you can put some hay in the barn knowing how many goals you have accomplished and allowing you to draw on that confidence before throwing in a game.
The Area Scouts platform can be that fantastic and objective way to track your progress as a player. Being able to see how your overall development improves in terms of mobility, power, and speed through the B.A.S.E. and On-Field Assessment Benchmarks and Correctives is something I wish I had access to as a young athlete.