Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Softball Pitching - 4 Steps To Great Mechanics

ByBecky Wittenburg

Because softball pitching requires one fluid motion, it is difficult to coach it in terms of fundamentals. However, pitchers need to understand the proper mechanics in order to develop their pitching skills. If a pitcher is struggling with her delivery, then breaking the pitching motion down into its fundamental elements will help isolate and fix the problem. The following tips will help coaches and pitchers establish a firm pitching foundation.

The Windmill Method

The most popular delivery in fastpitch softball is currently the windmill method. In this underhand pitch, the pitcher's arm starts in front of her body, winds back, completes a full circle, releases the ball at the hip, and then follows through.

The windmill is more than just an arm motion, however; it requires a long stride that utilizes the legs and torso to generate more power. Both speed and the shift of weight play an important part in executing the windmill effectively, so pitchers should practice the motion to develop a comfortable rhythm. Maximum velocity and accuracy will only occur if all of the movements are in sync.

The Fundamentals: Grip

In fastpitch softball pitching, the grip on the ball depends on the type of pitch being thrown. How the pitcher holds the ball will direct the rotation of the ball and the way the wind interacts with the seams, which will in turn determine how fast the ball travels. For example, to throw a four-seam fastball, the pitcher will hold the ball so the laces form a letter "C," then place her fingers across the "C." For a two-seam fastball, the pitcher will hold the ball so the laces form a "U." Her pointer and ring fingers will each rest along a seam and the middle finger will go in between the seams.

With either delivery, the middle three fingers will be on top of the ball, with the pinkie tucked underneath and the thumb on the side of the ball. The ball should be held securely in the fingers, not against the palm of the hand.

The Fundamentals: Stance

A pitcher's stance is the position she assumes before beginning her wind-up. It can vary from pitcher to pitcher, but a player should have a basic stance that is consistent and comfortable for her.

She should begin by holding the ball in her glove and standing up straight at the pitcher's mound. Her lead foot, or throwing-side foot, should be on the rubber with the toes extended over the front edge. The rear foot toes should touch the back of the rubber. Her front leg should be straight while the back leg is slightly bent, and the feet should be just a little closer than shoulder-width apart. The pitcher should square her shoulders toward home plate, keeping her weight on the balls of her feet.

At this point in a game, the pitcher would look to the catcher for the signal while slightly shifting her weight forward. She would then visualize her pitch, take a deep breath, and begin her wind-up.

Completing the Pitch

In order to properly execute the pitch, the pitcher needs to develop her wind-up, stride, arm movement, and follow-through. Once she is comfortable with her grip and stance, continue the pitching lesson by introducing the pitching motion. Players often become overwhelmed at first, but by starting with the basics, coaches can guarantee understanding before moving on to developing more advanced skills, like an effective change-up.

And if you'd like to see more free softball pitching drills and coaching tips, go here to watch a free video:


Becky Wittenburg is a softball coach, and the owner and publisher of Softball-Spot.com, the web's #1 resource for softball pitching drills, tips, and practice ideas for youth and high school coaches.

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