Fastpitch softball pitching tips for beginners
Fastpitch softball is also known as fastpitch or fastball, and it is a form of softball usually played by both men and women. This is also considered the most competitive type of softball.
There are many cases in which pitchers, even those with a lot of experience, have learned some part of the pitching motion or delivery incorrectly. This leads to a limitation of their ability to perform successfully, or it even causes injuries.
We cannot say that there is a right or a wrong way of doing something, but a method should be chosen according to the pitcher’s personal abilities, but also to his or her comfort level. Just as you have to crawl before you can walk, you need to practice in order to become an expert. We have prepared a few pitching tips you should know if you are a beginner in fastpitch softball.
The first step is to learn, practice and develop good pitching mechanics. Throwing strikes should not be your concern when you are learning how to pitch. Practice until you do it right, and make sure that everything is correct and smooth. Later on, you can add speed.
Although many students would like to start right with throwing strikes, you should first master the right way of doing the pitching motion and delivery. Afterward, you can start working on your accuracy and throwing strikes.
Pitchers who do not take the time to prepare to throw the ball properly risk getting injured and they will always move slower and with less accuracy. That is why it is mandatory to have a pre-pitching routine.
There are a few activities that should be included in this training. First, jogging helps you loosen those tight body muscles. Stretching for several minutes does wonders for your arms, legs, throwing arm shoulder, hamstrings, and the midsection.
Then, you should loosen your throwing arm with easy overhand throws from a short distance, gradually working your way back to a longer range and harder overhand throwing. Continue with short distance underhand pitching, then work your way back to full-distance, full-speed pitching.
There is a proper way to approach the pitching rubber you should also be aware of. Many softball leagues and sanctioning associations ask girl pitchers to make this approach from behind, meaning the side away from the batter, in order to prepare for a pitch.
You need to step up to the rubber from behind, hold your hands apart at your side — one idea is to have the ball in one hand, and the softball gloves in the other. This is known as the presentation, showing the batter that you have the ball, and that you are getting ready to pitch.
Next comes the stance — stand tall, keep your shoulders back, your feet apart enough to be balanced, your hands at your side, just like for the presentation, and your neck and upper body muscles feeling relaxed.
There is a proper way to position your feet that is also required by sanctioning associations. The foot on the front (from the throwing arm side) should be placed at the front of the rubber and at least half of it must be on the rubber surface.
The rear foot can be placed behind the rubber. Some leagues require the toe of the back foot to at least touch the rear edge of the pitching rubber.
The grip is a very important aspect in this sport. Surely there isn’t a definite right or wrong way for a beginner pitcher to hold the ball, but it is essential to develop habits in preparation for pitches from the start, for better future performance.
The four-seam grip is recommended to begin with. It will cause the pitched ball to rotate with all four seams cutting the air. You need to place the pads of your fingers on the seams on the U-side of the ball, or the horseshoe.
Before throwing the ball, it is necessary to imagine the path the ball will take after you throw it. As you are standing on the pitching rubber, visualizing the trajectory of the ball can help a lot.
Envision how you will be releasing the ball alongside your hip, all the way into the catcher’s mitt. This concept is called creative visualization, and it will later assist you in your throwing, fielding, and hitting, as well.
Releasing the ball needs to be a combination of movements and positions that have to happen at the same time. First of all, you should keep your wrist back right before this point, in order to automatically whip forward at the exact moment the ball leaves your hand. Your arms should be outstretched, but not stiff. Your elbow must not bend more than 15-20 degrees.
Another key element is not to snap your wrist forward, as it can cause timing issues and a higher pitch than necessary. As mentioned before, if you whip your arm down, it will give you a better snap movement that happens automatically.
If you want to get better control and speed, you should keep your fingers behind the ball when it leaves your hand. All these movements and hand positions will allow you to perform better, once you master them.
As a beginner in any activity or sport, practice makes perfect. None of us were born specialists, so we have to start somewhere and work our way to the top.
There are many softball pitching tips that we can discuss about, but one thing is for sure — you need to practice, and then practice some more, until you learn everything there is about your sport.
So get your softball gear and your softball infield gloves, throw everything in your softball bag and get on the field for training!