Today, we’re going to be going over some very basic softball pitching mechanics for your fastball, as well as other pitches. In Part 1, we will be talking about grip, pre-motion and footwork. You’ll learn the proper technique to use, and how to incorporate them into your players style. Hopefully this information can help you out with your team!
First, we’re going to go over proper grip. The proper way to hold the ball is to hold the ball so that there’s a C – you want to find the C in the seams – and you’re going to place the index finger and the middle finger on the seam, and then reach around and grab the seam with your thumb. You want to make sure that your fingertips are across those seams and that there’s a space between the thumb and the index finger, and there’s also a space so you’re not palming the ball. You want to make sure there’s a space there between the ball and the palm. And the reason why this is important is that when we throw the ball, we want to throw with a four-seam rotation. So when you release the ball, it’s rolling off of the fingers and you’re getting four seams forward spin. So you’ll be able to see one, two, three, four seams.
It also helps to grip the ball the same way every time. That’s one thing that you want to do – make sure you take the time to get the same grip every single time when you throw the fastball. Gripping the ball on the seams helps make sure that the ball is balanced in the hand and you have something to pull against when you release the ball. So you want to make sure that you feel your fingertips roll off the ball, and you’re going to peel those seams at the same time.
So now we’re going to go over pre-pitch or your pre-motion. Your pitcher is going to approach the mound as if she’s taken a sign from her catcher. Right foot is going to be forward on the mound, if she’s right-handed. (You’re going to do everything the opposite if you’re left-handed. – Everything I explain today is going to be for a right-handed pitcher.)
The right foot’s forward, and you’re going to start with your weight on your right foot, hands apart. And the reason why you want your hands apart is because it’s the rules. You want to have your hands apart. When you get your sign, your hands come together and your weight shifts back.
From here, you can do a bunch of different things. I like to have my students swing back their arms. I feel like that gives them a little more momentum when they start their arm circle. Another thing you can do is have only one arm swing back. One arm could swing back and the glove can go to the thigh. The one thing you want to watch for on this one though, is that the shoulders don’t open up too early. You want to make sure that you’re square to the target. And then from there you’ll start your circle. Another option is, some of my students will start above their head to help get their weight back. And then from there, swing back their arms. You can do whatever one feels comfortable. It doesn’t matter to me if I have a girl come in and they want to do whatever they do, as long as it’s not a wasted motion and it doesn’t make them tired throughout the game.
So, let’s go ahead and go through the whole pre-motion again. She’s starting on her right foot, she’s looking at her catcher, getting her sign. She comes back and her weight goes back to the back foot. And that’s real important. You’ll see a lot of beginning students, they’ll start with their weight on their right and they just start their pitch from there and that’s wrong. So you want to make sure that they get their weight back and their hands come set. And when you come set, you want to get set for at least a second and no more than 10 seconds. So what I have my students do is they’ll put their hands together and they’ll take a deep breath. And that’s usually a good amount of time to get set, and then they’ll go ahead and start their pitch from there.
Okay, now we’re going to be going over footwork. And footwork is very important to teach your pitcher. You have to have proper footwork to throw your pitches faster and have better control of your pitches.
So, we’re going to start with just how to place your feet on the pitching rubber. I’m going to draw a line in the middle of the pitching rubber and you’re going to place your right foot so that that line goes on the inside part of the right foot. And that’s about where you want to start off because you’re going to push off with the right foot. So if you can line up the foot to go straight to the target, you’re going to go straight, and you’ll be able to throw a lot more strikes if you’re lined up there. The one thing that you’ll see a lot of the younger girls do is they will start in a different place on the pitching rubber. So it’s important, just like getting the same grip every time, we want to make sure that we set up our feet in the same way every time, same place every time.
So you want to start with the right foot. This is the leg you’re going to end up pushing off with. So you want to make sure the right foot is lined up to go straight down the middle of the plate. Even as we start to learn other pitches, we want to be able to start in that same spot so nobody knows what you’re throwing. You don’t want to start changing things around. So from here you come back and get set. I’m also going to go ahead and draw the power line. And the power line, this is real important. If we drew that line from the middle of the pitching rubber all the way down to the middle of the plate, that would be your power line. So you want to make sure that all of her weight is going right on that line. It’s not just your feet, but we’ll talk later about the arm motion, and how the arm motion also goes on this power line.
Now we’re going to walk through a pitch. When you land, we want to make sure that the left foot, the stride foot – opposite if you’re left-handed – is going to land on about a 45-degree angle. And it’s going to be a little to the left of your power line. So your toes are actually touching the power line, but you’re not right on it. You don’t want to land right on it or across. That’ll actually slow down your pitch; your hips won’t be able to get through fast enough. So we want to make sure that you’re landing straight on that line. And we also turn in our toes for balance. Another thing that I see a lot of my younger students do, some of my older students will do it too if they haven’t pitched very much, is they land with their foot straight and then they’re off balance the rest of their pitch. So make sure you’re watching your pitcher and you see where the foot is landing.
From there, the drag is where we go next. You want to make sure that you’re dragging the right foot so the big toe is dragging. If you’re practicing in dirt, you should be able to see the drag mark. The drag tells us that you are opening the hips and then closing at the end. If the drag is completely straight, then we know that you’re never getting the hips open. And that’s real important for pitching.
Let’s walk through it again. Take your step, straight, and then she’s going to make sure her hips are open when her hand comes through, and then she’s going to drag, and then just going to come back. This shouldn’t be completely straight. So the one thing you can do is, look at your pitcher’s cleat and see if she’s wearing out her cleat. You can tell mine’s pretty worn out. Because I’m always constantly telling my students to drag. The drag is real important also because it helps us find our release point. So when you’re dragging, the harder you drag, the more you’re going to be able to feel the ball roll off her fingertips. If her foot’s in the air, she’s going to be off balance. So she’s not going to be able to find that release point every time. So this is really important. Drag hard and drag all the way through your pitch.
Stay tuned for Softball Pitching Part 2! Will you be incorporating these tips and techniques into your practice plan? Be sure to share your progress! And don’t forget to Follow Me on Twitter, where I will share more great Softball Pitching tips!