Softball Pitching Tips

This section provides a number of softball pitching tips to help you strengthen a phase of the game which has one of the biggest impacts on your team's success. As the saying goes, "Good pitching will beat good hitting", and this is never more so the case than in fastpitch softball. If you have solid pitching, you will win more games than lose, hence, this must be an important focus in your coaching.

The first of the recommendations is to understand the psyche and athleticism of your pitchers. Like everything in softball, you can train your player on the physical parts of the game, but YOU must learn how to motivate that player based on her personality and personal psyche.

With anything, having the tools is great, but knowing how to use the tools is tantamount to achieving success. It is important that you know what pitches to call in what situation. Clearly, different factors will weigh in, but in that five seconds you have, there must be an assessment of what is happening in the game, how your pitcher is throwing, and what type of batter is up at the plate. Click on the link to find out what to consider when calling that next pitch (or better yet, sequence of pitches).

Fastpitch softball pitching is based on the windmill method

The rest of the softball pitching tips address when to teach which pitch. It is important that this order be followed to ensure that your pitcher will pick up each new pitch and build her range successfully.

The first pitch most pitchers learn is how to throw the fastball. This is the basic pitch, and with it comes the proper mechanics for perfecting the windmill mechanics, from leverage with the body, grip of the ball, foot placement on the mound, and so forth. It is important for a young pitcher to focus on only the fastball for the first year so she can correctly deliver on all of these finer points. Some pitching coaches will even look at the fastball as multiple pitches based on where it is thrown, i.e. up and inside, down and inside, up and outside, down and outside,(the previous four locations often referred to as the four corners) and down the middle. Quite frankly, down the middle usually spells trouble, but the other positions will be key to success of any pitcher. The first rule for any pitcher, even before speed, is control. If you can’t throw a strike (legally, going back to mechanics), then it really doesn’t matter.

The second pitch to teach is the changeup. This comes in year two of a pitcher’s career. If you have a young pitcher (and I am speaking in terms of years as a pitcher and not necessarily age-wise) who can spot her fastball where she wants it (think four corners), then the next thing you want is a good change up to go with it. This will help keep the batters off balance. As with the fastball, it is important to learn the mechanics and grip of the change up. The more it looks like your fastball mechanics, the more you will fool the batter. And that is what the change up is all about, fooling the batter.

© Ron Mayhew
 The windmill softball pitching technique creates full extension and leverage of the body

There are four other pitches for the pitcher to master. The first is the drop ball. The drop ball looks like a fastball, but suddenly drops out of the strike zone just as the batter is about to crush the ball, or so she thinks ... I have seen pitchers make a living off of this pitch, my youngest daughter being a fine example. And, when the drop ball is used in combination with the change up, curve or screwball, you have a lethal combination of pitches.

The screwball is a pitch that, if the pitcher is right handed, will come in towards the right handed batter. The curve ball, on the other hand, travels away from the right handed batter if you are a right handed pitcher. Again, learning grip and body motion is key to the success of these pitches.

Finally you have the rise ball, the gravity defying pitch, which actually travel upwards as it approaches the plate. This is usually one of the last pitches mastered and one that usually separates the great from the good pitchers.

As you can see, unlike baseball, you have pitches coming at you from a variety of angles: up, down, right, left, straight and any combination thereof. Is it any wonder that games between two very good teams usually lead to a low score (or pitcher's duel)? It is not just the pitching distance, but the movement of the ball that has this impact, again, leading to the original statement:

Good Pitching will Always Beat Good Hitting.

For information on the various topics of fastpitch softball coaching, check out our Coach's Aids section. You will find books and DVDs that address coaching, pitching, catching, hitting and fielding.

For some drills and additional softball pitching tips to help your pitchers perfect their technique and drive more speed out of their motion, check out the Softball Pitching Drills and the Fastpitch Softball Pitching Drills pages for some ways to help with your pitchers' training. The second page also has a drill to help with the drop ball.

Do you have some great softball pitching tips to share? Do it here! The more we know collectively the better the game gets as a whole. So share you softball pitching tips with us.

What Works for Your Pitchers?

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