Fastpitch Softball Pitching
Teaching the Screwball

When it comes to fastpitch softball pitching, the screwball is a valuable tool for any pitcher. This ball appears to be going wide, then curves inwards to the batter (assuming both the pitcher and batter are right-handed).



From the pitcher’s perspective, a perfect screwball for a right handed pitcher should move sideways left-to-right at just the right moment. It’s a relatively uncommon pitch but deadly when used well.

General Pitch Philosophy


This pitch is excellent for throwing the batter off balance. Not only can this help force a strike from the pitch itself, but it has a mental effect on the batter for every pitch to come. When mixed in with other pitches such as dropballs and changeups as well as regular fastballs, this pitch will mess with a batter’s sense of balance, distance judgment and coordination. It also helps to avoid predictability as a pitcher. In order to be effective, a screwball must be thrown quickly and within enough spin to actually swing in mid-air.

© Kim Jew Photography Studio
The softball pitcher relies on ball movement to be successful


Ball Grip


There are two different release methods for creating the spin necessary for a screwball – however, both methods require the same grip. The grip is identical to that for a standard fastball pitch, with the fingers evenly spaced along the top seam of the ball – two, three or four fingers, depending on how many the pitcher requires for control. Obviously, the pitcher should use the same number of fingers for both screwballs and fastballs in order to avoid telegraphing that a change in pitch is coming.

Body Position and Shape


While it’s not necessary to use the following movements to perform a screwball, they can be helpful. It’s difficult to create a significant spin from hand movement alone, especially as a beginner. Some pitchers will find they benefit from leaning to the right as they execute the pitch. Stepping slightly to the left can also help put the pitcher in a better position to rotate the ball, providing a stable platform as the arm comes across the body to generate more spin. Stride length should mimic a fastball. These movements must be combined with the hand and wrist action described below.

© Kim Jew Photography Studio
The pitcher delivering movement on the ball in a fastpitch game


Movement


This pitch is different from the others most pitchers will be familiar with previously in that the arm does not have to follow a perfectly circular rotation. The arm should arc out to the right (assuming a right-handed pitcher) as it rotates around and then cross towards the left side of the body as it swings forward.

The wrist snap needs to turn in the right direction to generate the spin. The wrist should flick in towards the body as the ball is released. Alternatively, the pitcher can tilt the hand sideways and roll the ball from the fingertips.




The screwball is another important pitch to have in the fastpitch softball pitching arsenal. How do you teach your pitchers to throw the screwball?

What Works for Your Pitchers?

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Screwball Technique 
I agree with your description above on how to throw a good screwball. I usually tell my pitchers to "open the door" because when releasing the ball, …

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