Previously, in Part 1 of “Softball Pitching”, we talked about basic softball pitching mechanics, including Grip, Pre-motion and Footwork.
In Part 2 of “Softball Pitching”, we are going to continue to walk through our pitch and talk about proper body rotation and follow through after the pitch. But first, I want to go over what we do with our glove.
When it comes to softball pitching, it’s really important to use your whole body. Not just your right side or throwing side, but we want to use both sides. So you’re pitcher is going to swing back, and take her step. Look at her glove… it’s really important to get the glove up high.
When she’s swinging back and she takes her stride, her glove comes up high and when she gets to here, have your girls try to pull their glove down and make a slapping noise on their side. So they’re reaching up high and they’re pulling their glove down.
Another thing that the glove does is, it helps them get their weight back. You’ll have some girls that end up with their weight a little forward. If you really think about trying to get the glove up, they’re going to get themselves in a good position, with their weight back. So the right arm comes down, the left arm pulls down at the same time, and then she’s going to try to snap that ball through as strong as she can. Elbow in tight, snap, and then follow through.
We’re going to be talking about body rotation during your pitch. Your pitcher’s going to swing back, take her stride, and she’s not going to open until her arm gets to a point where her body’s going to be open, completely sideways.
You want to make sure that your pitcher is still looking at her target. I often see players try to open their body and then their eyes go off during the middle of their pitch. You want to make sure that she’s always focusing on the target. Her body turns and rotates sideways, and this is going to allow her arm to come straight back as if she was tracing that wall. If her shoulders don’t open up enough, you’re going to end up seeing pressure on the arm. And then the arm’s not able to come all the way back. Her body needs to be completely sideways to allow her arm to come straight through and straight back. Her hips need to be open when she releases so that it clears that lane to throw the ball straight to the middle of the play. If her hip ends up turning too early, before the release, her arm’s going to kind of drag through, and she’s going to release and lose a lot of her speed. And it’s also going to force the arm to go off to the side because she doesn’t want to hit her side. So she’s going to end up getting this rotation on the ball instead of just straight through. So keep the hips open and come straight through. And then at the end of her pitch she’s actually going to close. She is going to turn her hips, but it’s got to be right after she throws the ball. And that’s where your power comes from. So it’s dragging — stay open, come through, and then drag and close at the end. And that would be her body rotation.
A lot of your power comes from how hard and how fast you can rotate your body. So you’re open, your hand comes through fast, and then you’re going to go quick and try to close as hard as you can.
Ball Release & Follow-Through
We’re also going to talk about ball release, how the ball should be coming off of your hand and what your arm should be doing after you throw the pitch. That’s called your follow-through.
So, we’re going to walk through our pitch again. The pitcher is open. And you want to make sure, like I said before, that your elbow kind of brushes against your side, but fingertips are behind the ball and she wants to pull as strong as she can. I mean, she should really be able to spin the ball. And I tell my students to try to spin the ball as much as you possibly can between you and your catcher. If they get a lot of spin, they’re going to have better control and speed.
And this is what happens. She spins the ball straight to the target. Her fingertips are going straight up. We don’t want her fingertips to go sideways or turn out, because she’ll lose control of the ball.
Now, a follow-through is real important no matter what pitches you’re throwing. It tells us as a coach what she just did. So when she’s releasing the ball, if her hand comes straight up, we know she had a good release. If you see her hand and she’s off to the side, we know she’s throwing across her body and she’s going to end up throwing the ball outside a lot. Or she’s going to throw inside a lot. The girls that don’t follow through, you’ll see a lot of balls in the dirt. So if you have a girl that has been pitching for a while and keeps on throwing the ball in the dirt, probably one of the biggest things that she’s not doing is her follow-through. It needs to be a lot stronger. She’s just going to come through, snap, and then really finish strong at the end of the pitch. And that’s a good follow-through for a fastball.
The follow-through is also part of what you do with your feet at the end of the pitch. Take your step, and what happens is, when you’re a right-handed pitcher, the drag foot’s going to come up after you release the ball, and we never want to see the right foot go past the left foot. It can come up even. It can finish a little behind. But we don’t want to ever see the right foot finish in front of the left.
Something else I see a lot is girls finishing on the wrong foot. We want to make sure that they finish on that left foot. The weight’s got to be on the left, because that’s what’s going to get the ball going straight at the target.
To work on this, here’s something that I have my younger students do. For LT’s age 10 and under, I think it’s real important to hold the drag foot down. Don’t even lift up the foot right now. Just make sure that the weight is on the left foot and that’s going to help when we go on to learn other pitches besides just our fastball. When she goes on to learn a change-up or a curveball or anything, it’s going to be a lot easier to learn those pitches. They’re just different spins. So from here, just work on stepping straight to the target, pointing the arm at the target, and making sure that the feet are balanced at the end of the pitch. And the one thing I have my students do is I tell them to hold it for about three seconds. And they can count in their head, they can count out loud, but I want them to hold it for about three seconds at the end of their pitch and see if they can balance.
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