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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 Pitching Tips: How to Destroy a Hitter’s Timing

One thing that’s often said about hitting is that “hitting is timing.”  Well if you’re a pitcher and you want to experience success in the circle, the last thing you want to do is allow hitters to get their timing down when hitting against you.

sneakysoftballpitchingThat’s why legendary pitcher Hal Skinner wrote Sneaky Softball Pitching: Sneaky Pitching Tactics to Destroy a Hitter’s Timing.

Sneaky Softball Pitching contains the most sought after pieces of pitching advice in the game today. Learn how to pitch faster within seconds. Get the secret of how to stun a batter into not swinging at all. Find out what every great pitcher needs to know about the mental game, and get detailed information about the foundation for building not only top speed, but most accuracy as well!

From the author:
I am a self-taught pitcher. I learned to pitch by watching hundreds of adult male pitchers starting when I was 5-years-old. I saw the ones that won most of their games and the ones that weren’t as good. Most of the teams I played on were championship teams that won nearly all tourneys entered. We were champions because we did things in practice and in the games that the other teams did not do, did not do as well, or did not do nearly as often as we did.

The things we did that others didn’t is included in my book. Unless your instructor was a champion pitcher at a high level, they cannot teach you most of what is in my book because they don’t have the knowledge I have. They have not “been there and done that.” As a pitcher, I learned very early on how to win. I pitched differently and used strategies other pitchers did not. I used pitching tactics and was very good at it.

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Fastpitch Softball Drills Work Better When…


By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Fastpitch Drills Work Better When You Know Why You’re Doing Them

Yet another story from the fastpitch front, i.e. lessons. Tonight I was doing a pitching lesson where the pitcher brought her own catcher. The catcher happens to be a girl named Lindsay, a former player of mine and a personal favorite.

As the pitcher was working, she occasionally threw a ball into the ground. My expectation was that Lindsay would drop and block the ball, or at least catch it competently. But instead, she was just sort of swatting at it, which looked very odd.

After the pitching lesson I asked her what gives, and that’s when she told me she’d just come from a team workout (not sure if it was HS or travel ball) where the coach was bouncing balls into the catchers, who were only wearing masks. I asked her what the purpose/point of the drill was, and she said she didn’t know. None of the catchers did, apparently.

To me, that’s a problem. Forget that the drill itself is downright idiotic. Catchers need to learn to block the ball, and bouncing the ball in to them with no equipment on is no way to make that happen. It’s counter-productive and pretty much guarantees runs will score that shouldn’t.

For me, the problem is none of the girls executing it had any idea why they were doing it — or bothered to ask. If that’s the case, how do you know whether you’re doing it right or wrong, or getting out of it what you’re supposed to?

In my opinion there are good drills and not-so-good drills. But even the not-so-good drills can serve a purpose in the right hands.

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Softball Tips – Practice Makes Permanent

By  Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softballtips-practicepermanentMany of you have probably heard the expression “Practice doesn’t make perfect — it makes permanent.” Yet how often have you really thought about that in the context of your own work?

I know I see that in action all the time. Walking through a facility or along a field I will see teams diligently running drills or working on techniques that essentially have them practicing to lose. Even though they may have best of intentions.

I see it with hitting a lot. I like hitting stations as much as the next coach, but they can do as much harm as good if they’re not set up or supervised properly.

Now, if you have older players whom you’ve worked with for awhile you can probably have them work the stations without someone being with them every minute. But for younger players it often doesn’t work as well.

I will see young players putting no effort into hitting off a tee because they think it’s for babies. So they just sort of knock the ball off instead of working on elements of their swings.

Soft toss is another one that can be problematic. Players will toss arcing balls to one another, which creates all sorts of problems in the swing that will have to corrected later.

But it’s not just hitting. You can see it in throwing, when players just push or lob the ball to one another while chattering away. You see it in the way they catch or field, just going through the motions instead of working on technique. They figure as long as they get the ball, or get it to wherever it needs to go next, they’ve done their jobs. But then, when they really need the better skills, those skills aren’t there — because they haven’t developed them.

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Softball Performance Tips – Take a Little Time to Retool

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Without a doubt this is a busy part of the fastpitch softball summer season. Tournaments every weekend, for some teams league or scrimmage doubleheaders during the week, and maybe a practice squeezed in here or there.

What that means is very little time to work on individual skills. Some may be able to handle that, but they’re in the minority. For most, all this play time means skills are actually deteriorating.

It makes sense. In a practice setting, a hitter might take 100 to 200 swings in a session. In a game, she’s lucky if she gets 12. That’s a pretty big delta.

Same with fielders. Whereas in a good practice session you may field 50-100 balls or more, you may go a game or two without any significant fielding chances — especially if your team has dominant pitching. Sure, you get some practice during warm-ups, but your focus is different then. It’s on getting ready for this game coming up, not on necessarily improving your skills.

Even pitchers can have it tough. Sure, you’re still throwing a lot of pitches. But the focus will be on the ones that are working. The pressure is on to throw strikes and keep baserunners off the bases, so if you curve is working and your rise is not, the rise isn’t going to get much of a workout.

That’s why it’s important to make time for that sort of deep practice that will keep skills sharp and you playing the way you want to play. Which probably means you’ll have to get out on your own to do it.

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Change Up – The Forgotten Softball Pitch

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softballchangeupToday’s topic was actually suggested by member Rex Wooten. He was looking for somebody — anybody — to address this topic.

I’m guess like many of us he sees a lack of changeups being used at the high school and below level. That doesn’t seem right to him, as his email suggests:

“Watched Jenna Caira and Sarah Hamilton pitch winning games this weekend.
Guess what pitch they threw the majority of the time (probably 60-80 %)?
YES – CHANGE-UP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The changeup as the forgotten pitch is particularly interesting because it’s almost always the second pitch a pitcher learns, after the basic fastball. And it can be devastating. After all, hitting is about timing, and pitching is about upsetting timing. What better way to do that than throw a pitch that looks like it will be fast but comes in slow?

Yet it seems as youngsters either develop more speed or gain other pitches, they no longer have interest in the change. I’ve seen it a lot with “power pitchers” at the high school level.

They fall in love with their speed, and the fact that they can use it to make opposing hitters sweat. What they forget is as the game goes on those pitches look less and less fast (and maybe become less and less fast if the pitcher tires), at which point they become a lot more hittable.

Mixing in a steady supply of changeups, though, solves that issue. You can’t zone in on one speed when there’s another one lurking around the corner. And no hitter wants to be made to look bad by swinging early through a changeup, so it has to be on her mind. Right there the pitcher gains a huge advantage in that one-on-one confrontation.

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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


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


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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Softball Pitching Practice Tips

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

fastpitchpitchingpracticetipsOver the weekend, I had a chance to work with one of my high school-age pitching students. She was telling me a little about her high school coach’s approach to pitching practice.

What it amounts to is “throw 30 fastballs, 30 changeups, and 30 of another pitch.” As a kicker, he also wanted those 90 pitches completed as quickly as possible. My student asked me what I thought about that.

I have to admit to an eye roll. Honestly, I don’t understand how a coach with five or six pitchers  of varying ability and experience can prescribe a universal program for all of them. More to the point, unless he gets really lucky I doubt it’s going to help any of them.

Since there are essentially two parts to the instruction, let’s look at each of them separately, starting with the pitch count. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll assume that fastballs will be thrown and that it’s ok to do so. Whether a softball pitcher should ever use a fastball is a topic for another day.

Having a set number of each pitch creates a couple of problems, because it focuses on quantity over quality — or having a goal for the practice. A pitcher can easily throw 30 pitches and accomplish nothing. Just chucking the ball at a catcher or wall 30 times gives the illusion of practicing, but not the reality of it.

A pitcher who isn’t focused on anything but hitting the number can easily be building bad habits. But let’s say she is conscientious about working. Has she set a goal for that particular practice, such as hitting her spots or increasing her leg drive? If so, what happens if she reaches 30 pitches and hasn’t accomplished her goal? Doesn’t seem like it makes much sense to move, but the coach said 30 and move on so that’s what you do.

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