Monday, May 10, 2010

Softball Pitching Basics - 10 Things You Need to Know Part 4

credit Columbia Tribune for the pic of Chelsea Thomas.
Let's Learn some More Pitches

Ok, you have been throwing your fastball and changeup for about 6 months to a year now and have learned them pretty well. You are throwing 400-500 pitches a week and your mechanics are smooth and you are feeling strong. Now it is a good time to start working on another new pitch.

In Fastpitch softball you really only need about 4 pitches, if you throw them well. You have learned two of them. Those are what you will throw the most. Up next is a pitch that will take you into the next level and allow you to strike out more hitters or at least keep them hitting grounders.

Next up is the Drop Ball. There are a couple different ways to throw this pitch. The PEEL drop is my favorite. The other is the ROLLOVER drop.
The Peel is thrown very similar to your fastball. Many of the really good Fastpitch pitchers throw their Peel drop as their fastball. This version of drop ball "looks" like a fast ball and is much easier on your arm. To throw the peel drop you need to shorten your stride just slightly, maybe 3-5 inches and "peel" the ball off your fingers as you release. Make it spin hard in a downward motion to create the dropping effect.

The Rollover change is a little harder to learn and is harder on your arm and elbow. Basically, you roll your hand over at the release and thrust your arm down to create the downward spin on the ball.

So make sure you use a shorter stride and a slight forward or "on top of the ball" motion at release. Spin the ball as hard as you can and keep all other elements of your motion the same and you will have a really good drop ball.

This Fastpitch softball pitch will take another 6 months to a year to master. You also need to keep working on your other pitches. So go get your Fastpitch softball gloves and a softball and go to work.
Keep checking back for more tips on Fastpitch pitching and other subjects.

Just keepin' it real….

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Softball Pitching Basics - 10 Things You Need to Know Part 3

.credit MU softball for this cool photo.

Let's Learn some new Pitches

4. Now that you have gained some good control over your self and your pitching, it is time to learn a new pitch or two. You are already confident with throwing your fastball. That is a great pitch to have. You are now able to hit your spots somewhat consistently. Keep practicing on hitting your spots with your fastball, that will help set up the batter for the next pitch.

The next pitch to learn is probably the most important pitch in a Fastpitch softball pitchers arsenal. This next pitch will; when you master it, make most batters look silly at the plate. It will allow you to strike them out one after the other. They won't even know what just happened. It will be like the ball just appeared from your Fastpitch softball gloves and landed in the catchers mitts.

This pitch is called The Changeup. There are many forms of the changeup. The Shove, the Backhand Fernandez, the Flip, the Stiff Wrist, and others I can't think of at the moment. My personal favorite is a rarely seen one called the Fleeman. It's kind of a secret so we won't discuss it here.

The main thing to remember about your change up is this pitch must have reduced speed of about 10-15 mph, look exactly like a fastball to the batter and is thrown at all different times in the count. In other words, don't just throw it when you have a 2-0 count. Throw this pitch early in the count and early and often in the game. This will mess with the batters timing.

Just as with most of the other pitches this one will take some time to learn well. It may take a year, or just 6 months but it will take a lot of pitches. Maybe as many as 10,000 or more to master this pitch, but it will be worth it. Now go practice your Change up.

Just keepin' it real…

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Softball Pitching Basics - 10 Things You Need to Know Part2

Part 2 Learn to Control Yourself and your Pitches

3. You must be throwing 400-500 pitches every week now. You have to throw pitches, and lots of them to develop your pitching muscles. You also have to develop your fastpitch softball gloves hand. You need to keep both sides of your body in shape.

4. Begin to Develop your Control of your Pitch. To develop true control, you have to be in control. That means you have to keep your head on straight as they say. Stay calm, don't worry if you throw a bad pitch. Tell yourself that no matter where the pitch ends up that is exactly where you intended it to go. Make the batter and everyone else believe that.
Don't be distracted by the other team, or by fans or parents. Keep cool about the umpire's call. Just stay cool and show no emotion in the circle. Show everyone that You are in control of the game.
When you get Control, when you have a good smooth windmill pitching motion. Your body motion is smooth and controlled, your release is the same every time, then you can start working on placement.
You can start working on accuracy and placement by working to hit your spots. Start out by pitching to the 4 corners - low inside, low outside, high inside, high outside.
Later you will work on variations of those spots and add more.

Stay tuned softball fans for more tips for beginning Fastpitch Softball pitchers.

Just keepin' it real....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Softball Pitching 10 Basics You need to Know

Part I
1. You should throw between 300-400 pitches every week. You must practice hard. Good serious practice is what it takes to become a good fastpitch softball pitcher. Learning to windmill pitch is going to be tough but you can do it. You should build up to throwing 100 pitches every couple of days (3-4 days/week).

2. You should learn the pitching mechanics first, then work on the speed. If you have bad mechanics lots of things can go wrong. As you become more skilled in the mechanics and your motion becomes more smooth start adding more speed. At this point control or accuracy is not the most important thing, that will come with practice. Be sure to use a consistent arm speed all through the pitch. Later you will work on variations of this.

Be certain your fastpitch gloves hand is pointed at the catcher to start your windup. Keep your arm bent slightly but extended all through the pitch motion. Be sure to use your whole body, not just your arm to produce the power and speed. Use your legs to push off. Bring your hip through with your arm. Release as your hand brushes by your hip. Make certain your wrist is facing straight at the catcher.

After release let your hand follow through naturally, that may be across your body or it may be on up by your ear. Jennie Finch teaches the "hello elbow" follow through. Your arm finishes long and your elbow ends up by your ear. This is good technique because it keeps you from snapping your arm abruptly which causes injury.

For right hand pitchers your body is facing third base during the pitch and if you wear a left hand infield softball glove you will be facing first base during the pitch.

Keep watching for the remaining tips for softball pitching basics.

Just keepin' it real...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Softball Hitting - The Basics 2

Ok, so you have learned a few basic tips for hitting. Now here are some more basic tips for hitting a fastpitch softball.

Let's talk about the stance now. As a hitter you need to be comfortable in your batting stance. You don't want to feel awkward before trying to do the most difficult thing in sports - hitting a fastpitch softball.

Step into the batters box and position yourself about the middle of the box. This way you can get the most out of viewing the pitch.

Position your feet about shoulder width apart. Again, this is a personal preference. Some batters like to be a little wider and some a little narrower. Find where your own personal preference is and stick to it.

Bend your knees a little. Kind of begin to squat down, but not too much. You just need to get into an athletic stance. This is so you can move your body quickly to hit the ball. If you squat too much you will lock yourself into place. If you stand to tall and stiff legged the same thing will happen. You won't be able to move quickly to swing at the ball.

Turn your head so that your eyes can both see the pitchers fastpitch softball glove. You need to be able to focus on the pitchers arm as she begins her windup and release of the softball.

Ok, now lean slightly into homeplate. Just enough to be comfortable and see the path of the ball as it is pitched in to the fastpitch catchers mitt. You don't want to lean in too far as it will deter your ability to move to the pitch and swing quickly. You also don't want to stay too straight up either for the same reason.

Keep reading and watching for more tips on fastpitch softball hitting.

Just keepin' it real...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Softball Hitting - The Basics 1

To hit a fastpitch softball is one of the most difficult feats in all of sports. You are trying to hit a very fast moving round object with a thin round stick. It's tough but you can learn how to do it. If you are new to the sport read on for some tips on hitting a fastpitch softball.

Holding the bat correctly. This sounds simple but let's talk about it a little. You hold it with your forward hand on the bottom and your back hand on the top. This lets you get maximum power out of your swing when you learn to swing.

Hold your head still. You can't be moving up and down or looking away. You have to keep looking straight at the pitcher or the ball on the tee for younger players. You can't be watching the catchers glove behind you. You need to have both eyes looking for the ball as it comes toward you. Your brain is trying to process to images at once, one from each eye. So holding your head still makes it much easier.

Shift your weight. You need to shift it back a little to get yourself loaded up and then shift it forward as you contact the ball. This weight shift helps you to get maximum power from your body through the bat and finally into the softball.

Take a very small step. This helps to shift your weight but is mostly for timing of the pitch. Just as the pitcher releases the ball step slightly forward or even just up and back down with no forward movement. This helps get you set up for the swing.

Keep watching for more Basic Hitting Tips for Fastpitch Softball.

Just keepin' it real....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fastpitch Softball Fielding Tips - Infield 2

In part one of this series we talked about things like keeping your softball glove vertical and other good fielding tips.

More tips for proper use of your fastpitch gloves for fielding are use your free hand like an alligator. When you receive the softball into your glove slap it shut with your free hand. This helps keep the ball from bouncing back out and missing the out.

Quick transfer of the softball to your throwing hand is essential to getting the runner out. After the alligator trap, bring the glove and your free hand up to throwing position in a small circular motion while at the same time transferring the softball to your throwing hand.

Set your feet in the direction of the throw. This is vital to making an accurate throw. Take the half second it takes to get properly set up and you will be much more accurate on your throw to get the batter out at first base.

Even girls softball players using left handed infielders gloves can make this play with great accuracy from shortstop or second base if these tips are used and practiced.

Get out there and play hard and remember these Softball Fielding tips.

Just keepin' it real...
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