There are two types of softball games. There’s the classic weekend slow pitch beer league that you may participate in with friends or co-workers. Then there’s the fast pitch softball where the speed of the pitching will make your head spin. Both look very different and there is a time and place for each type of pitching style. However, there are a lot of similarities between fast and slow pitch. Just like learning to walk before you can run; it’s often helpful to learn how to slow pitch before you move onto fast pitch.
Slow Pitching a Softball
If you have dreams of winning your beer league championship and you want to be your team’s MVP then you will want to learn how to pitch a softball like a true champion. Good slow pitch players can make the game look easy but throwing a strike on a consistent basis is much easier said than done. Standing on the mound and staring down the batter is enough to make many people nervous.
First, you should make sure you have a good understanding of your local rules. In most slow pitch leagues you are aiming to hit the home plate mat below the batter. In addition, there are typically rules that dictate how high you can throw the ball. Before you learn how to pitch a softball you need to make sure you know the rules you’re working with.
In slow pitch leagues you are not allowed to wind up before throwing. This means that you cannot generate the same kind of speed you see in fast pitch. In order to get the ball to the mat and earn a strike you must throw the ball in an arc.
The best way to make an accurate throw is to ensure your momentum is always moving forward. Holding the ball, bring your throwing hand back just above waist height. Now, as you begin to move your hand forward, be sure to step into the throw to generate momentum. Release the ball on the upswing of your pitching motion to get that nice arc shape.
When you begin, you will find you lack accuracy. There is no way to understand the power needed without practice time. The amount of power you need to put into your pitch will also change based on conditions like wind.
Fast Pitching a Softball
Some of the basic motions from slow pitch apply to fast pitch but there are a lot of differences between the two styles. In fast pitch you are aiming for a strike much like in baseball. Instead of attempting to hit the mat like in slow pitch you want to send the ball over the home plate between the batter’s knees and shoulders. This is called the strike zone.
Generating the power to drive the ball through the strike zone while maintaining accuracy is a difficult task. Much like in slow pitch, you want to ensure that your momentum is moving forward. In addition, you need to have a strong grip on the ball so that you don’t release the ball too early before you have completed the motions.
If you are pitching with your right hand then your left leg will be your “kick” leg. Line up with your right foot on the front of the rubber and your left foot on the back. As you begin your motion you will pull your pitching hand back to waist height. Now, you use forward momentum to generate power. Bring your arm forward to waist height and kick your left foot forward along the ground while pushing off using your right foot.
Turn your body so that your hips are facing your target as you continue the throwing motion. Your arm will make a full circle through the air to generate as much pitching power as possible. Once your throwing hand reaches your hip you want to snap your wrist forward and stabilize your body. Be sure to follow through even after releasing the ball to help keep your throwing motion on target.
Much like with slow pitch, your first fast pitch attempt may not be a clean strike. Learning the motions and the power needed to hit the strike zone is an essential part of learning how to throw a softball.
Practice Makes Perfect
Learning how to pitch a softball is not an overnight task. There is a lot of practice required to learn the motions and the power needed to throw a strike every time you face down a batter. Want to get better? Get out there with a friend and start throwing!