Oftentimes when talking about off-season training, I hear that it's too cold to get outside or there just isn't enough time to practice. Although I can't argue that the temperatures have dropped and there's not much daylight left once school gets out, there are plenty of simple drills that you can complete indoors. The fact is, you don't always need to throw full distance to improve your mechanics or your speed. Instead, spend a few days a week completing the following drills to enhance your form.
All you'll need for these drills is eight to ten feet of space and a net or tarp.
I don't actually call this drill "elbow-leading arm circles", but it's something important to emphasize for a correct and efficient arm path. Many pitchers have heard the term "whip", but often it's taught incorrectly or poorly understood. You can only create a true whip when your elbow leads your arm circle in the downswing of your motion. If instead, you are pushing the ball down or "palm-down" at the 9 o'clock position your arm will remain stiff and straight, leading to a lack of whip.
As you master your stationary arm-circles, it's important to achieve the same form during your full pitch. There are a few key factors that contribute to arm whip, so keep these in mind as you work on incorporating this arm path into your pitch.
Stop and go's have always been one of my favorite drills to help pitcher's understand their body positioning. This is a great drill to work on positional awareness, as mentioned above. You can complete normal stop and go's into a net, or for an added challenge, add a glove snap to finish instead of throwing the ball into a net. Both of these variations are helpful, but I find that an additional glove-snap can help younger pitchers who have a poor understanding of when to release the pitch. I will caution you, young pitchers tend to miss their glove during glove snaps, so it's still helpful to throw in front of a net.
This is something I have seen from a few different pitching coaches recently, and I decided to try it with my own clients, particularly pitchers who struggle with crow-hopping or have a crashing ankle as they go into their drag. Pitching with no shoes on will allow the pitcher to feel which part of their foot they are driving through, landing on, and dragging with. The more a pitcher can feel what she's doing, the easier it will be for her to understand what adjustments need to be made.
CAUTION: Do not throw at top speed while barefoot. You will fall. Trust me, I speak from experience.