Teaching the Drop Ball
Once a pitcher is familiar with fastballs and changeups, the next softball pitch is usually the dropball which focuses on ball movement in flight. The drop begins to expand the pitcher's repertoire from speed and location to ball movement, an important ingredient in ensuring long term success.
Before learning the dropball, the pitcher will be used to pitching techniques where the ball moves in a straight line. The next step in a pitcher’s evolution, adding an extra edge to her game, is to learn to make the ball dive down before the batter can make contact.
General Pitch Philosophy
The name says it all – a dropball should appear to be coming straight, but dip down before it reaches the batter. This forces the batter to start thinking much more strategically than when she faces a straight pitcher. The dropball combined with fastballs and changeups will play mind games with the batter, leading to strikes and forcing mistakes as she tries to anticipate the ball’s movement. Like a changeup, the movements preceding the dropball should mimic the set-up for a fastball.
© Ron Mayhew
The grip is slightly different depending on the technique used to achieve the downward motion of the ball. For a ‘peel’ style dropball, the ball should be gripped evenly along the seam. For a ‘snapover’ style dropball, the ball should be gripped by two fingers where the seams are closest together. Both these techniques are explained below.
Body Position and Shape
The big difference in this pitch is the length of the stride. The stride taken should be between half a foot and a foot shorter than the pitcher’s stride for a fastball – apart from that, the set up should mimic a fastball.
© Kim Jew Photography Studio
The all-important drop is created by the movement of the hand when the ball is released. Whereas a standard fastball results from a wrist snap, a dropball is achieved by rolling the ball off the fingers. The fingers should roll up and back as the ball is released, resulting in a spin which will drive the ball downwards – this is the ‘peel’ method. The other technique used to create the spin is a wrist roll – the ‘snapover’ mentioned above. It involves a flick of the wrist over the ball as it’s released, creating a top spin.
When performing a dropball the pitcher should take care to keep her arm in a straight line – if her elbow creeps out of line this can lead to injury, and any change in line can also telegraph the type of pitch to the batter.
This softball pitch is a favorite among pitchers. How do you teach the drop?
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I pitched for many years and found that the best way to throw and effective drop was the "pinch" that old-timers used to talk about. You hold the ball …
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