Softball pitching is a unique skill that sets apart the players who can initiate every play on the field. Whether you want to throw a precise strike or catch a runner off guard with a pickoff, you need to have the ball in your hands. To do that, you need to master the technique of pitching, which takes a lot of practice and dedication. Pickoff plays are useful, but most of the time you will be focusing on one thing: Throwing the best pitch possible. The ideal way to learn how to pitch is to join a softball camp, but we have some tips to help you get started.
|How To Throw The Accurate Softball Pitch|
Before you pitch the ball, you have to make two choices. First, you have to decide if you want to try any pickoff plays. Look at your bases before you pitch and see if any of the runners have left too much space. If they have, you can try to pick them off and get an easy out–or at least make them think twice about leaving the base. This can give your team an advantage if they need to throw out a runner later.
If you don't want to do a pickoff, you have to decide what kind of pitch you want to throw. As a pitcher, you have many options: screwballs, curveballs, drop balls, changeups and more. But the basics are important, so you should have a strong, fast, consistent fastball as well. If you have seen the batter hit before, you can adjust your pitch based on their weaknesses. If not, you should mix up your pitches to keep them guessing.
Once you have chosen your pitch, it's time to throw it.
Many pitchers don't pay enough attention to their grip, and it affects their performance. Your grip determines the type of pitch you throw, so you should be deliberate about how you hold the ball. For a 4-seam fastball, put your three middle fingers across the seam of the ball, with some space between them. Your thumb should be under the ball so it's aligned with your middle finger. Hold the ball with the tips of your three middle fingers. Your pinky should not touch the ball at all. A 2-seam fastball will use a similar grip to the 4-seam fastball, but this time your index and ring fingers will be on top of the seams of the ball. This will make your pitch fast like a fastball, but also make it drop slightly. Other pitches like the curveball and the changeup have different grips, but they also require different wrist movements and release times. The coaches at your local softball camp can help you learn how to do these more complex pitches.
A pitcher's stance is meant to give them stability and control over their pitches. It also helps them avoid unnecessary errors in their pitches. Different leagues have different rules for how many feet you can touch the rubber on the mound, but most professional and amateur leagues will require you to touch it with both feet. You should put your front heel in the middle of the rubber, and your other foot's toes on the edge of the rubber (but not past it). In leagues where only one foot contact is allowed, you can move your back foot behind and off the rubber.
Your hand position is up to you, as long as your glove covers your ball and your throwing hand holds it securely.
The windup is a short but important part of your pitch. It gives you the momentum you need to throw a strong ball. Once you are in your stance, you should lean back slightly, putting your weight on your back leg. This will allow your body to move forward, and it will increase your speed.
As you do this, you should also move your weight back to your front foot. As you do this, you should take the ball out of your glove, swinging it down and back to start the windmill motion of your pitch. Your front foot should dig into the ground to get ready for your stride.
The stride is a key part of your pitch. It adds more power and accuracy to your throw. Move your throwing arm forward and back over your head, keeping up the windmill motion. This will make your body move forward too. Then, lift your back foot (which we will call your "stride" foot) and push it forward. Try to keep your body straight with the mound.
As you pitch, remember the "power line". The power line is an imaginary line from the middle of the rubber to the end of home plate, and it shows where your stride foot should land when you finish your stride. Aim for the power line, with your foot at about a 45-degree angle to it. Some softball camps have pads with the power line marked on them, so you can practice it.
As your arm finishes the windmill motion, it will reach your hip. Move that hip forward to face the plate, and release the ball with a flick of the wrist as your hand passes the hip and goes up. As you release, you can roll or twist your wrist to make your pitch drop or spin. This depends on the type of pitch you are throwing. For example, if you are throwing a curveball, you have to twist your wrist as you throw to make the ball spin. On the other hand, if you are throwing a changeup, you have to not flick your wrist at all, tricking the batter into thinking it is a fastball when it is really a slow pitch.
Putting It All Together
The hardest thing about learning to pitch is doing all of these steps in one smooth movement, and using that movement to throw well. With practice and training, though, this becomes easy for any good pitcher, and can lead to many strikeouts that will help your team win.