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Softball Pitching Mechanics Every Player Should Avoid

Softball Pitching Mechanics Every Player Should Avoid

To be a top player in softball, you must understand softball pitching. Well, this no doubt requires focus, energy, time, and training to perfect. For the softball pitcher, perfect communication is required with the catcher already at the waiting plate to identify the right pitches and prevent opponents hitting the ball. Using the wrong pitching mechanics can be dangerous and can at times even end careers in softball. Here are common softball pitching methods that every player should avoid.

1. Overusing

When a player uses incorrect pitching tactics, there is a risk injuring rotating cuffs and shoulders. For example, if you use roll-over drop technique, the likelihood of getting an injury is very high. While there are no specific recommendations about the number of pitches that are safe, it is prudent to exercise restraint.

  • Be sensitive during training to know personal limits
  • Make sure to get ample rest between innings

2. Lack of ample stretching and warm up

During the tournament day, many are the players who take warm up lightly. They rush through warm up and get into the game when the body is not fully prepared. This could be a recipe for disaster. For pitchers, taking ample exercises like jogging is crucial even before getting to pitching mood. This helps to make muscles loose and bring concentration necessary to direct more energy to the muscles and other areas.

3. Practicing breaking pitches too soon

To practice pitch drop balls or curve balls among other tough pitches, you need to develop and adapt the wrist bone structure. Here there is no short cut; get a taut wrist and energize fast so that the ball can be released in a spinning and fast pace. However, many players take time to develop this level of bone toughness and wrist snap but end up trying and risking their hands. For coaches, it is prudent to be patient with players and not force them to trying breaking pitches too soon.

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Who is Stealing All Our Good Softball Pitchers Away?

Who is Stealing All Our Good Softball Pitchers Away?

There is a drought in this world today that it is widening daily even here in America. It is not the drought of food; rather the drought of softball pitchers. A few years ago, several ladies desired to be pitchers. Pitching in High Schools, colleges and club teams was a highly competed position and many ladies yearned for it. But a series of practices have been shaping a different turn of events whose result is the shortage we now experience. Today, teams are regularly advertising for pitchers left, right and center (unlike 10 years ago). The adverts we regularly read proof either a decline in passion for pitching, insufficiency of pitchers or both of the two. This has triggered me to ask this question: where are the days when softball pitching used to be fun for divas? Which dracula just ate all our ambitious pitchers away?

After a keen observation on the current trend of practices, I was able to find out a few reasons why this has been so and proposed a few ways we can employ to avert this impending “drought”.

Why did the rain stop raining?

Disasters do not just happen; they have to be triggered by a series of events. In order to address this issue, it became very necessary for me to recognize major changes that may have fostered the overall shortage of pitchers. Here are a few of the select issues I could pinpoint as leading to this.

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Little Known Facts About Softball

Little known facts about softball (differences with baseball)

Baseball is better known than softball perhaps due to popularity of the game in the major league. On the other hand, softball is a very competitive college sport with many similarities to baseball but a game on its own nonetheless. Softball is usually played by female players but that does not make it a lesser game. Baseball rules are quite easy to understand because it is watched by millions of people who love the game. But the same cannot be said about softball; some of its rules are not widely known.

This article will elaborate on some of the little known facts about softball.

Balls are heavier and larger

The balls used in softball are heavier and larger than those used in baseball. They have a tendencies of adding some weight especially when wet. As such the officials have to watch balls keenly they might have gained some weight after rainy games or practice. Furthermore the balls might vary in weight depending on how long they have been in use –technically when they are worn out.

The pitchers in softball can play in numerous games

Notably, baseball pitchers pitch overhand while pitchers in softball do it underhand. Therefore, unlike baseball, softball pitching isn’t strenuous as baseball pitching. This means a pitcher in softball can play in multiple games without getting strained easily.  However, a pitcher in baseball needs to be relieved by other pitchers because of the effort required to accomplish his task on the pitch.

Unlike baseball, pitchers cannot steal bases until the pitcher is actually pitching

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Softball Pitching Drill for Better Balance

By Hal Skinner

Weight Back and Balanced Pitching Drill

As a pitcher, it’s important to understand how important it is to start your pitch off in a balanced pitching stance. For the smoothest motions, you must also maintain that same balance through the entire course of your motions when you pitch.

Here is a pitching drill that gives you a feeling of balance during your pitching motions, the feeling of a slight lean forward at the start and of having the weight back at the end of the motions.

How to do the drill

Part One

Stand on the rubber and bend your stride knee to 90 degrees, like a flamingo.

Throw three pitches like that balancing on your pivot foot only while keeping your balance.

Don’t let your foot come down until the catcher catches the ball.

Part Two

Now, take an empty coffee can and set it upside down about 1 foot directly in front of your stride foot.  Place your foot against the top edge of the can, lean SLIGHTLY forward, and throw three pitches from that position while keeping your balance.

Part Three

Now, place the upside down can about 3 feet out in front of your stride foot and do the same thing.  You might need to use your arm to steady yourself as you put your foot against the can. Make sure you keeps your balance and do not push over the can.

Doing this drill allows you to experience how balanced you must feel at the very start, part way into, and near the end of your pitch.

You will also experience how you must have your weight slightly forward at the push off and must also keep your weight back at the end of the pitch.

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A Successful Pitching Philosophy

Here’s a philosophy on being a successful pitcher as shared by legendary pitcher and instructor Coach Hal Skinner in his book Sneaky Softball Pitching.

The best and most widely respected pitchers are those who pitch the smartest games.

They don’t have to throw the quickest fastball, or have a large number of different pitches to choose from, or even have great ball movement on those pitches. The best pitchers are the unpredictable pitchers. The unpredictable pitchers are the smart pitchers!

Years ago, my goal was to become a smart pitcher; to outsmart the batters, the teams I faced. Every good pitcher needs a bit of an ego when it comes to their pitching. I am no exception to this rule.

My pitching philosophy is different from any other I’ve encountered in the sport. Most do not even agree with me. But my philosophy is simple: a pitcher must be smarter at pitching than the batter is at hitting…

Do you agree or disagree?

SneakySoftballPitching.com bookNote from Coach Hal: Many years have passed and injuries now prevent me from competing in the position of this sport that I love so well, and I have retired from coaching. The time has come for me to pass on to a much wider audience what I have learned and coached all these years. I have nearly 50 years of experience being in and around fast pitch softball. These are some of the things that helped make me and my teams winners. I hope some of my advice can help you be a winner, too.

Get Coach Hal’s best pitching tips and advice in his book Sneaky Softball Pitching

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Softball Tips – It Still Comes Down to Pitching

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softball-tips-pitchingAnyone who has been following fastpitch softball over the past few years knows we have entered an era of hitting. The philosophy used to be “put the ball in play and hope for something good to happen.” Games used to end 1-0 or 2-1 after 12 innings.

Today, though, it’s all changed. There’s lots more offense in the game, thanks in part to better training for hitters and in part to superior bat technology that turns checked swings into extra base hits.

So it might tempting to think that having that great pitcher isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. Yet the truth is the opposite; if anything, it’s more important than ever to have good pitching.

Softball/baseball is the only sport where the defense starts with the ball. And who on the defense has it first? The pitcher.

To paraphrase a saying from my underground comic book reading days, “Good pitching will get you through times of no hitting better than good hitting will get you through times of no pitching.” Think about it.

To win a softball game, you have to score more runs than your opponent. The more you can limit the runs of your opponent, the fewer you have to score yourself.

If your pitchers are giving up an average of five runs per game, you have to score an average of six. But if your pitchers are only giving up an average of two runs per game, you only need to score three. That’s a lot easier pace to maintain.

In an era where there’s more hitting overall, it’s even more important to have top-notch hitting. Think about that checked swing again.

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Softball Tips – How to Avoid Injuries and Poor Performance

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Don’t Skimp on the Warm-ups

softballwarmup

You would think that this week’s rant topic would be pretty self-evident. Yet apparently it’s not.

I keep hearing stories about coaches (many of them HS coaches right now because that’s the season most are in) who don’t seem to think that warm-ups are essential or even necessary. What’s odd is that when they get the results you would expect — injuries and poor play — they don’t seem to learn from it.

One girl I know, a pitcher, was actually called a diva because she wanted to do some dynamic warm-ups before starting practice or throwing for games. Her teammates apparently saw no reason to stretch; sadly, neither did her coach. She did the best she could to get herself prepared but it was definitely a struggle.

A good warm-up, including dynamic stretching, is essential both for game preparation and injury prevention. (Static stretch, where you pull and hold a muscle, is strictly for post-game cool-downs and flexibility.) Yet all too often coaches merely give it lip service, or don’t focus on it at all.

The same goes with skills warm-ups. I’ve seen plenty of teams that laugh and joke their way through warm-ups. The mess around when they should be working on bunting; they throw the ball all over the place without a worry in the world. They dog it on fly balls and ground balls. Then their coaches get mad when they lose.

What do those coaches expect? Warm-ups are performed for a purpose. They’re there to help your team get ready for the game. If that’s how you warm up, that’s how you’ll play.

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Softball Pitching Tips – How to Break Through Your Speed Plateau

By Hal Skinner

Getting past a ‘PITCHING SPEED PLATEAU’

I once received a softball pitching testimonial from a softball dad that talked about the ‘Pitching Speed Plateau’ phenomenon.  He talked about how he sees a lot of pitchers “Top Out” at about 55mph.

That statement reminded me of an exercise I stumbled across as a young athlete.  This simple exercise, involving a weight, allowed me to throw several MPH faster immediately. I was shocked by how well it worked.

I used that simple exercise before almost every single game in my entire pitching career. I also repeated the exercise a few times during the games in the dugout which helped keep my pitching performance as strong as possible.

I never discussed it with anyone. When someone asked what I was doing I just said, “It helps me stay loose.”

Unfortunately, a rollover truck wreck beat me up pretty good and pretty much ended my playing career.

Several years after the wreck, I began instructing pitchers. I remembered the exercise with the weight and bought a few for my students’ parents.

I had them do exactly what I did all those years before. It worked for them just as it had for me. I also quickly realized all those different speeds pitchers reach and seem to get ‘Stuck on’, ‘Top out at’ or however you want to describe it. They reach a ‘Pitching Speed Plateau’. I don’t understand exactly why it is, but they are always a number divisible by 5. The most common are 45, 50, 55, 60 and 65.

I can’t count how many times I have heard parents say, “She gets clocked a consistent 52, hit 54 once but 55 seems to be totally out of reach. She’s been stuck there for a year.”

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Pitching – How to Get More Strikeouts

By Stacie Mahoe

Baseball of Famer, Warren Spahn once said “Softball Hitting is timing, pitching is upsetting timing.”

If you want to get more strikeouts and more wins this season, find another way to upset the timing of the hitters you face.

One super simple way to do this is vary the length of your set. Some pitchers barely have a set. Their hands come together, pause briefly, then they are immediately beginning their pitching motion.

Others have a nice long pause with their hands together before they start their pitching motion.

Still others are in continuous motion as they bring their hands together then move directly into their pitching motion.

Using a different set from time to time or lengthening/shortening the pause you have after bringing your hands together and before you start your motion can be a simply way to disrupt hitter’s timing.

I first heard of this strategy from Hal Skinner, Hall of Fame Men’s Fastpitch pitcher. Hal actually has a pitching book full of different ideas for keeping hitters off balance.

In addition, Hal also shares his Foundation Method which allows a pitcher to gain optimal speed AND pitching accuracy.

Here’s what a softball dad had to say about Hal’s book…
Not only did the mechanical drills in your book assist Ashley in her development of strength and speed, the mental toughness advice made her the dominating pitcher she is today. With your book I have been able to successfully instruct Ashley to pitch at a top level. “She had me and I had your book for instruction”. She was started off with your ‘Foundation Method’, we have continued using that method all along and still use it today.

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No BS Softball Pitching Tips

softball pitchingBy Stacie Mahoe

I recently received an inquiry via e-mail from a concerned softball mom regarding some softball training information for pitchers that was passed along to her.  Apparently someone she knew went to a pitching clinic and was told…

If you train for strength as a pitcher DO NOT train with weights greater than 5 lbs. for upper body because the muscle development will interfere with pitching ability and speed.

But this softball mom, being the smart one that she is, didn’t just take it and run with it, she asked around for more information before decided whether or not to follow this advice.

Here is my response to this “advice” for softball pitchers

It’s BS. Period. It’s one of those ever-perpetuating softball training myths that still exist in 2012!

Yes, you want to be *slightly* more careful not to overload a shoulder, but one throw puts 5x more pressure on the shoulder joint than any lift you could ever do because of the high velocity at which a ball is pitched or thrown.

If you are going to limit a softball pitcher to 5-lbs, they might as well workout with a broomstick!

There is not limit on how much they can lift. The key is progression, good technique, variety in exercise used, limiting bench press (DB press ok) and shoulder strengthening exercises (all the stuff baseball pitchers do to strengthen those tiny muscles).

That’s my NO BS info on training for softball pitchers.

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