Slow Pitch Softball Pitching Clinic
How to Pitch in Slow‐Pitch Softball
Are you having trouble pitching for your slow-pitch softball team? Have you been asked to pitch but have never done it before? Here are some tips on how to become a solid pitcher in slow-pitch softball. These instructions are written for right-handed pitchers. Left-handers should reverse the directions.
Find a softball field with a pitching mound and a home plate.Becoming a good pitcher requires a lot of practice. Having a pitcher's mound to practice on is important only if you will pitch from one in actual games. (Lots of fields do not have mounds.) Having a home plate to throw to in practice is critical. Without it you won't know whether you're making good pitches. It also helps to have a friend or teammate act as a catcher who can double as an umpire, although you can usually tell when you've thrown a strike by noting where the pitch lands.
Practice your grip.Pitchers use many different grips and hand positions in slow-pitch softball. While you are learning, it is best to use a circle grip. Grasp the ball with your thumb and index finger around the full width of the ball so that your hand almost forms a circle, as if you're holding a soda can. Place your other fingers on the ball below your index finger.
Work on your pitching motion.Most right-handed pitchers begin with their right foot on the pitching rubber and their left foot either on the rubber or just to the left of it. They then take one full stride toward home plate with their left leg while simultaneously swinging their right hand (holding the softball) backward. Immediately as they plant their left foot they swing their right hand forward (underhand) toward the plate.
- An alternative motion is to begin with both feetbehindthe pitching rubber, step forward onto the rubber with your right foot, then continue forward with your left leg as outlined above. As you gain experience, you will learn the pitching motion that works best for you, including how far apart to place your feet before you start your motion.
Begin your motion.Most pitchers start by holding the ball at waist level (often with the ball and their right hand inside the pocket of their glove).
If you start frombehindthe rubber, step forward with your right foot so that it lands on the rubber.At the same time, bring your right arm straight back behind you, as if it's a pendulum hanging from your shoulder. If you start with your right foot already on the rubber, move your right arm back as you begin to lean toward the plate, preparing to step forward with your left leg.
In one smooth motion, step toward the plate with your left foot.While you're stepping, swing your right arm forward, underhand, as if your hand is swinging on that pendulum.
Release the ball when your hand is at about waist level.This is called the release point. You will have to experiment to see at exactly which point you should release the ball. The earlier you release, the lower the ball's flight path and the farther it will travel. The only rule here is that one of your feet must be in contact with the pitcher's rubber until you release the ball.
Work on your "follow-through." Let your right arm continue upward after you let go of the ball. This helps to maintain balance and lessens arm strain.
Get into a fielding stance as soon as you are done with your follow-through.Be ready for a batted ball before the batter swings. The ball may be hit right back at you on a line-drive or a one-hopper, and your reflexes will have to be quick. Some pitchers quickly back up several steps after letting go of the ball so they'll have additional time to react.
- Experiment as much as you want. Different pitchers do different things. Try different pitching motions, release points, grips, whatever helps you pitch.
- Once you have mastered throwing strikes, experiment throwing non-strikes in specific locations. In slow-pitch, throwing non-strikes ("balls") is at least as important as throwing strikes. Some batters tend to swing at bad pitches and either miss them completely or hit foul or easily-fielded balls. You can take advantage of their weaknesses by throwing them those bad pitches.
- Try to relax. Everyone knows pitching is perhaps the hardest position to play well, and people will understand if you're just learning. Slow-pitch softball is a hitter's game, so expect to give up lots of base hits, even some home runs.
- There's no substitute for practice. Work especially hard on making the ball land exactly where you want it. Keep the batters off-balance by moving it around from pitch to pitch: inside/outside, long/short.
- Practice hitting the plate. A pitch that hits the plate is an automatic "strike."
- Vary the depth of your pitch. Keep the batter guessing about whether a pitch will be called a strike or not.
- A common grip used to induce ground balls is the over-the-top grip. Hold your hand with your palm facing directly down, the back of your hand facing directly up. Place the ball in your palm and grip it with all four fingers facing forward and your thumb behind the ball. Use the usual pitching motion, but flick your hand and wrist forward when you release the ball. This creates backspin on the pitch, which can cause ground balls.
- Focus on being able to throw strikes. In most leagues, the strike zone is that space directly above home plate between the batter's highest shoulder and his/her front knee (when the batter assumes his/her natural batting stance). If any part of the pitched ball passes through this zone, it should be called a strike (by traditional rule in the U.S.).
- Try altering your release point to change the height of the pitch. Specific leagues set their own rules for pitch arcs. A typical standard would be an arc no higher than 12 feet above the ground and no lower than six feet.
Video: Slowpitch Softball: Pitching Mechanics
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