Your pitcher is a very important factor of your team’s success, and these softball practice drills will help your pitcher to improve her strength, accuracy, and endurance.
Add-on Pitching Drill
Have your pitcher start at the pitcher’s mound and throw two pitches. If she can throw it to the target with ease, she backs up two steps and throws one to two pitches. Again, if she can throw it with ease, she should back up two more steps and throw again.
She should continue to progress through this until she struggles to get the ball to her target. She will continue to back up into centerfield if that’s what it takes. Once she reaches her maximum, then she stops and does 25-50 repetitions.
Throughout this drill and all the drills, your pitcher should remember to stay on her power line, to work on her mechanics and her spin.
When I refer to the spin, I mean this: The ball comes in, hopefully, on a 12/6 rotation–as on a clock, twelve o’clock being on top of the clock, and six o’clock being on the bottom, the ball will have a tumbling effect in line with those two numbers.
The purpose of this drill is to increase the strength of the arm, endurance, and accuracy.
As your pitcher comes out each day, she’ll know what her maximum probably is, but she should still begin at the pitcher’s mound, as it will help loosen up her arm before she gets into the longer throws.
Inning Work Drill
Once your pitcher is warmed up, we want to simulate her pitching in an inning. Each inning consists of 21 pitches, and she’ll rotate through all five spots.
For the purpose of this drill, she should throw fastballs. Variations can be all of her pitches and complementary pitches.
The five spots are: one is low and outside, two is low and inside, three is high and outside, four is up and inside, and five is directly over the plate, knee high. These are the five spots your pitcher will be throwing her pitches to as she rotates through those and does her 21 pitches. She should be able to go through all of the spots a minimum of four times.
When considering the spots, it’s based on a right-handed hitter, with the odd numbers on the outside, even numbers on the inside. The low numbers are down, high numbers are up. For example, spot one is low and away. And when doing this drill, it’s best to do opposites, so we’ll go from one to four, which is up and in. Then we’ll go to two, down and in, and then we’ll go to three, up and away. Finally we’ll do five, over the middle of the plate. Then we’ll repeat through those in various combinations for a total of 21 pitches per inning.
This drill should be performed for a minimum of three innings up to the full allotment of seven innings to simulate a complete game. At 21 pitches per inning, if your pitcher throws three innings, she’ll throw 63 pitches. If she throws for a complete game, she’ll throw as many as 114+ pitches.
This drill should be performed with game-like intensity.
Basic Long Toss Drill
The pitcher will start at the pitcher’s mound or 40-43 feet away and will throw 10-20 repetitions until she’s loose. She’ll move out to 60 feet and she’ll throw another 10 reps from this distance. Again, while performing this drill, the idea is to get it to the target.
She will increase her arm speed and accuracy as she learns to get it there. Even if she has to throw an arcing rainbow, she wants to get it to the target.
After that many reps, she’ll move out to 80 feet and this will progress as far out as she’s able to perform it. But once she gets 100 feet, it’s recommended no more than two to three reps in order to prevent injury.
To conclude this softball practice drill, after she’s maxed out to 100 or 125 feet, she should come back in to her pitching distance at 43 feet and throw an additional 10-20 reps.
Rapid Toss Drill
The idea for this drill is for your pitcher to throw as many repetitions as she can in one minute. Ideally, it’s going to be approximately one throw every three or so seconds. The pitcher will throw, the catcher gets the ball back to her as quickly as possible, and she throws immediately upon receiving the ball.
Again, the purpose of this is to build strength, endurance, and total conditioning. As your pitcher fatigues out, which she will do in this drill, make sure that she maintains her mechanics. This is a good drill for a coach to watch so the coach can see what parts of the pitcher’s mechanics are lacking. The more fatigued she gets, the poorer her mechanics will become.
These four softball practice drills are sure to help your pitcher work on her accuracy, arm strength, and overall pitching skills. Are you excited to try these out with your pitcher? Don’t forget to share these drills with your fellow coaches on Facebook!