Teaching the Rise Ball
True mastery of softball pitching techniques cannot be achieved without a look at the rise ball. This pitch is the opposite of the drop ball – whereas the drop ball veers down, the rise ball spins up as it reaches the batter.
Drops and rises are great techniques for forcing a strike, as they tend to cause a batter to miss more often than when pitching a curve or screwball. A slight upward shift of a few inches can be all it takes to fool a batter. Very few pitchers ever manage to master this aspect of fastpitch softball pitching. These fastpitch pitching tips will help those with the talent and ability to pull off this pitch to achieve their potential.
General Pitch Philosophy
A point that should be clarified – a true rise ball runs a straight line, then lifts up due to the spin of the ball. It is not a pitch that runs a straight line from low to high. The idea of the rise is that it appears to be coming straight at the batter, lulling her into a false sense of security and encouraging a swing, but when the batter swings the ball is no longer where she expected it to be.
It should be noted that rise balls need to be pitched fast to work well, so a pitcher needs to have a very quick fastball down pat before attempting this softball pitch.
© Kim Jew Photography Studio
For the rise ball, the ball should be gripped with the middle two fingers along the part of the ball where the seams are closest – known as the narrows. The index finger should rest on the side of the ball. Some pitchers will prefer to keep the point of the index finger poking into the ball to secure the grip.
Body Position and Shape
The positioning of the shoulders is important for this pitch. The shoulders should be pulled back and then upper body leaning back so the weight is mostly on the back leg, with the front foot pressing firmly into the ground. The timing of this backward shift is important – many players make the mistake of shifting their weight too late, just before the release.
© Helmut Steinwender
The wrist and arm motion are part of what makes this pitch so difficult to master. As the arms swings down towards the hip, the fingers should be on top of the ball. As the ball approaches the release point, the hand needs to snap around in a twisting motion under the ball to generate the rapid spin needed to create the rise. The ball will be released lower for this pitch than a typical fastball.
Of all of the pitches to master, the rise ball may be the most difficult. If it is mastered, it will be the out pitch in your pitcher’s pitching arsenal. How have you successfully taught the rise ball, while maintaining the other pitches?
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