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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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Softball Pitching – The Case for the Curve and the Screw

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softball-pitchingSooner or later on the Discuss Fastpitch Forum you know that the discussion on pitching will turn to which pitches to learn. We’re going to take the 12 year olds who allegedly have 10 pitches out of the discussion for the time being and instead focus on the more basic pitches.

If you listen to the old-timers (and those taught by the old-timers), a softball pitcher only needs three pitches — the rise, drop and change. They say it’s not good to throw a curve or screw because they are flat pitches and too easy to hit.

Yet increasingly in the Womens College World Series you see fewer rises and drops, and a lot more curves and screws. How can that be?

I think a part of it depends on your definition of a curve and screw, and part of it depends on what you’ve seen before. It’s possible both sides of the debate are right within their frame of reference.

A curve ball that comes in on the center of the plate and breaks to the outside corner, without much of an angle up or down, probably will be hit pretty hard. Yet a curve ball that starts on the middle of the plate, or just to the outside of middle and then breaks off the plate is a great pitch. Even if it stays flat. The idea is to get a hitter to chase a pitch that breaks out of the zone. If she does get the bat on it, the odds are it will be hit foul. More likely, though, that it will be a swing and miss if you do it right.

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Softball Pitching Tip – Think of What to Do, Not What You Did

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog
Softball Pitching TipThere is an interesting phenomenon that happens when softball pitchers are practicing their craft. Let’s say they start off fine, hitting their spots and looking very comfortable. Then it happens: a pitch goes up a little high.

No problem, the pitcher figures. I just let go a little late. Then she makes the fatal mistake: I need to let it go a little earlier.

It seems like a good idea, and the right thing to do. After all, if you went high because you let go of the last pitch too late, it makes sense that you need to let go of it earlier. Yet that way of thinking is probably going to wind up causing the next pitch to be in the dirt. Because while the core idea is correct, the solution is far too imprecise to work.

Here’s a way to visualize it. Think of a line that is four inches long. The right time to let go of the ball is at 2.5 inches from the left side. When the pitcher throws high, she releases the ball at 3 inches from the left side. If she tells herself to release earlier, she may release it at 2.5 inches. But she may also release it at 2 inches, or 1.75 inches, or 1 inch, etc.

All of those points are earlier than 3 inches, but none of them will result in the proper result. Instead, the ball is likely to come in low, or even roll its way to the plate.

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Softball Skills Debate

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

There’s No ONE Answer for How To Execute Skills

Most of us come to resources such as the Discuss Fastpitch Forum because we’re looking to improve our understanding of the skills and strategies of the game.

One thing you’ll find along your journey, though, is some people are extremely, uh, passionate about what they think is the best way to hit, throw and catch a softball. Not only will they make statements about techniques as if they are facts instead of opinions, they will dismiss any contrary opinions as if they are the work of heretics. It can get mighty uncomfortable to read at times as vastly differing ideas go head to head.

What you need to keep in mind is either side could be right — or wrong. The only fact in the debate is that we don’t really know the absolute optimum way to execute any given skill. No one does. A lot of people think they do, but not a one would bet their house on it. And for good reason.

You can watch all the video you want. You can read all the books you want. You can take all the swings or throw all the pitches you want. You’re still taking your best guess, no matter who you are.

The reason is there is no reliable way to test varying theories against each other. To test something scientifically, you have to be able to restrict the variables to one. But you can’t do that with human beings. Regardless of whether a technique is good or bad, an athlete will tend to execute something she knows better than something she doesn’t know. So if you have the same person do two different things, she’s going to be better at one than the other. It doesn’t mean it’s the better thing to do, just that she’s better at it.

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Softball Pitching – If You Can’t Throw It Hard It’s Not a ChangeUp

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Lately I’ve had the opportunity to get out and watch some games – some with pitchers I coach, some with pitchers I don’t. It’s a great opportunity to take everything out of the theoretical (practice phase) and see it applied in a game.

softball pitching strikeOne of the things that most amazes me is how many pitchers still are either taught or are picking up the habit of slowing down their arms or otherwise changing their deliveries when they throw a changeup. Sometimes they don’t push off as hard, sometimes they leave their back legs behind, sometimes they just slow down or stop the arm completely. Whatever they do, it’s obvious they’re not throwing the same way as on a fastball or other speed pitch.

Usually, those “changeups” get hit pretty hard. The reason is the change is all about deception. The hitter has to see what she’s used to seeing out of the body, then have the ball do something it hasn’t been doing. It also helps if the body/arm speed and ball speed don’t match.

Which brings me to my main point.

Unless you can throw whatever changeup you’re throwing with 100 percent enthusiasm, it’s not a changeup.

softball pitchingIt might be an off-speed pitch, but that’s about it.

If you have to take any effort out of what you’re throwing, you need to learn a different pitch. Sure, it might work for a while, but as soon as the hitters get halfway decent you’re going to see it getting pounded. At that point, you’d better make sure you have one of those masks in case it’s getting pounded straight back up the middle.

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Softball Pitching Tip – Stay Loose & Pull

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

If you’re a fastpitch softball pitcher, here is an important concept to understand and remember…

Pull – don’t push – the ball through the circle

After you’ve been doing private instruction for a while, you come to take certain things for granted. While there are always variations on a lot of things, there are some things that are so fundamental to success that you just assume they don’t bear mentioning. After all, everyone must know this.

Then I find out that’s not true. As a case in point, I mention the way the ball is oriented through the arm circle. Or rather the way it shouldn’t be oriented.

fastpitch softball pitcherTurning the ball back toward second base and then having your hand on top of it all the way around the back of the circle is bad. It is not just bad, it is bad, bad, bad. When you turn the ball back toward second base, all you will be able to do is lock the elbow and push the ball down the back side. That will create a slow and stiff end of the arm circle, which will be slow and lack whip. There will be no acceleration to propel the ball at maximum speed toward home.

That would seem pretty obvious, especially if you try to do it. Yet I’ve run into a couple of girls lately who were taught exactly that by coaches who accepted money from unsuspecting parents.

Let me repeat again, that technique is bad. If you find a coach who is teaching it, run away and never come back. Seriously.

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Softball Pitching – What Factors Affect Ball Movement?

By Rick Pauly, Pitching Coach, University of South Carolina

Rick Pauly, Pitching Coach, University of South Carolina Gamecocks

Rick Pauly, Pitching Coach, University of South Carolina

Marc’s Note: A common belief in softball is that ball movement is mainly influenced by 2 factors: a) spin rate and b) ball speed. However, in this guest post, pitching coach Rick Pauly put things in perspective and shed some light on what he believes are the most important factors affecting ball movement.

The #1 criteria affecting ball movement is “Release Angle”.  The #2 criteria is “Release Point”.  Both of these criteria are tied directly to GRAVITY. Unfortunately, most pitching instructors or pitchers don’t  understand that you need to understand the effect gravity has on ball movement.

Below I have listed in order the criteria that create ball movement – note how far down the list spin rate is. Also, #1 and #2 are significantly more important than the others.

Factors Affecting Ball Movement (in order of importance)

1. Release Angle – good release angle is displayed on a dropball that finishes at the bottom of the strike zone. Every fraction of an inch above the bottom of the strike zone will result in less downward movement.

2. Release Point – this relates to how high the ball is when released. The higher the release point the less upward release angle required for a dropball – thus gravity has more effect on the ball. The best way to get a good release point is to ensure the body(spine) is near vertical at release – this will raise the hand. I don’t suggest shoulder shrugging or other body contortion to raise the hand.

3. Spin Direction – ball should spin in the direction you want it to move.

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Cat Osterman – Softball Pitching Tips

Here is a quick and interesting video where Cat Osterman provide a few softball pitching tips and discusses finger placement on the ball.

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Softball Pitching – A Drill to Increase Pitching Speed

By Coach Marc

Most people think of a dominant pitcher as someone who throws hard. It’s much more than that.

To be dominant, a pitcher must have a winning mindset, speed, control, and deception. If one of these elements is missing, a pitcher isn’t dominant.

However, speed does helps quite a bit  to be dominant. At the younger levels, a great fastball will help you get a lot of strikeouts.  At the older levels, it helps your breaking pitches move even more.

Here is one of my favorite drill to help a pitcher use her whole body to generate more speed.

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Softball Pitching – How to Increase Speed By Staying Loose

By Coach Marc

This blog post on softball pitching and how to increase pitching speed  was inspired from reading the post on the same topic from my friend and colleague Ken Krause on his blog:

There’s Strong, Then There’s…

You see, it’s a natural reaction for an athlete who want to generate more force or power to ”flex” their muscles in hope of generating more speed or power.

While that makes sense to think that contracting more muscles will equate to more force or speed, it is actually the wrong approach.

You have to understand that a tensed muscle is actually a slow muscle.  In other words, a muscle under tension is slower, not faster. It’s just a physiological principle.

I blogged about this principle a while back when I was talking about how staying loose is important to increase hitting power.

The same concept applies to pitching. For the best examples of that, you just have to observe some of the best pitchers in the world – a lot of them are doing some kind of pre-pitch routine or movement to help them stay loose. Lisa Fernandez was famous for her hoping on the mound a little with the goal of staying loose and tension-free.

They do this because they know that remaining loose and relax is the key to generating more speed and power.

You can also see evidence of this in other sports whether be in tennis or sprinting where athletes are trying to stay loose right before getting back into the action with the goal of being explosive and able to generate maximum speed and power.

So, if you want to generate more pitching speed, you have to learn how to stay loose while being explosive at the same time. It’s subtle fine line.

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