Pitching a softball
uses many of the same principles as pitching a baseball
, but there are some key differences. In fastpitch softball
, the pitcher
uses a 360-degree underhand pitch known as a windmill
. In most leagues, she must begin with both feet on the pitcher's plate
; her right foot is in front if she is right-handed, and her left foot is in front if she is a southpaw
. (For the sake of this writeup, we will assume that the pitcher is right-handed.)
She begins with the ball in her right hand and covers it with her glove
. She draws the ball and glove toward her right hip, simultaneously stepping backward with her left foot. This is sometimes known as "cocking." She then draws her glove to the left and begins the windmill motion with her right hand, leaping forward on with left foot. As she leaps forward, her right arm completes the windmill and her right foot is dragged behind her, usually in a slight curve to the left. While she leaps, she "opens up" her hips so that her body faces third base
. As she finishes the pitch, her hips "close" again, and she faces home plate
. She should release the ball when her hand is adjacent to her hip, but her hand should "follow through" with the windmill motion, bending at the elbow until her hand is almost touching her right shoulder.
For moving pitches, you probably need to vary your grip on the ball. For me, this was a matter of trial and error. I would tell you how I ended up holding the ball, but that's next to impossible to convey in words. Like I said, trial and error
To throw a curve ball
, you simply add a slight twist of the wrist when you release. Some pitchers have a natural curve ball, much to the consternation of their catcher
s. I never figured out a way to get rid of my natural curve ball.
To throw a drop, you "screw" your wrist into the ground. In other words, you follow through low while twisting your wrist counter-clockwise. This will definitely make your forearm sore the first time you try it.
To throw a rise ball, you follow through high while twisting your wrist clockwise. This is one of the hardest pitches to master, but once you have a good riser in your arsenal
, you'll be tough to hit.
There are many different schools of thought when it comes to the change-up
. Some pitchers just slow down their pitch, but this advertises your move to the batter
. My favorite was to go through the motions of a normal fastball and then stop my hand suddenly at my hip. This gave the ball a sort of rise-and-fall motion that makes it even harder to hit.
I am the only softball pitcher I know who actually used a knuckleball
in games. It's hard on the hands, but it's worth it. Your thumb is extended as normal, but your four fingers grip the ball by your knuckles. The size of the softball may be prohibitive for people with small or weak hands. You throw the ball like a fastball, but your catcher had better be prepared for the ball to jump like mad.
It's worth your while to invest some money in a decent pitching coach
. No two coaches will agree on everything, but you can learn something from each of them. I went through about half a dozen pitching coaches in my career. The nice thing about pitching underhand is that it's kinder on the arm that overhand, as it's a more natural, less jerky motion. Once you get your endurance up, you can theoretically pitch a whole weekend tournament
on your own. The most important thing a pitcher can have, however, is a good catcher. Curves and drops and risers become a hazard
if your catcher can't stop them at the plate.