Developing your speed-pitch throw is one of the most effective weapons in fast pitch softball. While there’s certainly a lively debate as to which type of pitch is most effective, no one’s arguing the fact that a faster pitch is always a nice weapon to have in your arsenal.
But the question remains: how do you develop your speed pitch throw? That’s not easy to answer with a single general piece of advice. Every pitcher is different.
Still, there are some ways, drills, and tips you may want to learn about that can help. Perhaps not all of them can help you since everyone’s different. But some may prove beneficial.
Never Mind the Strike Zone
Quite a lot of pitchers get it into their heads to simply throw strikes. While it’s true that accuracy is important, when it comes to speed development then it must be relegated to the back burner. So your focus must not be on hitting accurately. It should be about throwing hard and fast.
This is a different mindset all together. Often a pitcher concentrates on being accurate first, and then throwing hard while remaining accurate. This time it’s different. You have to concrete on throwing hard, and then you think about accuracy while you keep on throwing hard.
Don’t Neglect Your Warm-up
It’s always exciting to start pitching when you’re the pitcher, and a lot of players (especially teens and young ones) tend to want to hurry things up. But you need to warm up properly first. You can’t just blaze through your stretching and running routines so you can throw hard.
So warm up properly. Don’t forget to stretch your arms and legs, and make sure your midsection is loose too. You can do sitting hamstring stretches and opposite leg touches on your crunches. Opposite leg toe touches can also help.
Rely on Fundamentals
The way to put more speed for your pitches always remains dependent on these factors:
- You don’t bend at the waist. Instead, you lean forward with your whole body.
- Make sure you get a great push-off.
- Master your stride so it’s long and powerful.
- During the rotation, open your body fully.
- Bring your shoulders back so you’re tall and straight up when you release the ball.
- When you release, your arm shouldn’t be bent at the elbow. It should be straight.
- You need to keep your fingers behind the ball. This not only boosts the power of the pitch, but it also increases the accuracy.
Stay Loose and Don’t Be Tight
When you’re pitching, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. For example, you may not be very effective at throwing hard, or your accuracy may be way off.
When these things happen, don’t dwell on it. Step back, and take a deep breath. Concentrate on relaxing your muscles on your upper back and neck. Even your jaw should be relaxed, so don’t clench it.
Just relax and keep loose. When you’re pitching arm is loose, you get faster pitch with a better whipping action. When you’re tight, you’re going to lose control and the pitch is actually slower.
It’s just like in Star Wars. Let the Force flow through you. Let go of your anger. That leads to the Dark Side!
Mind the Power Line
The Power Line is an imaginary line from the center of the pitching rubber to the back edge of home plate. You can boost your speed when your stride foot lands with your toe touching this line. This can help you gain greater speed and even greater accuracy with your throw.
Try to Improve Your Arm Whip
This is the area where many young pitchers can benefit in adding some oomph to their pitches. Surprisingly, not very many coaches focus on this factor.
What you need to do is to concentrate in increasing the arm speed during the downswing, before you release. This can actually add more speed to your fastball. It creates a speedier closing of the shoulder while your arm is still going down. So the arm goes faster before the release point, and naturally this makes the ball go faster too.
Get Your Fingers Behind the Ball
This may seem way too obvious, but even some veteran pitchers may need the reminder. Some pitchers may forget that when their fingers are on the sides of the ball when they release, the speed goes down.
So remember the 3-finger fastball grip and release. This enables the fingers to drive the ball forward with greater speed.
Do Some Drills
The right drills can really help you get that speed you’re aiming for. Just make sure you don’t forget to warm up properly before you do any of them. While there are several drills you can choose from (or even several hundred if you go online), the following drills are of particular benefit:
- Distance drill. This is a simple, yet extreme effective, way to get you to boost your speed. When you’ve made your first pitch, just step back a foot or so afterwards. This means you’re throwing at a greater distance each time. Eventually you’ll be at a distance where you can barely reach the catcher.
Now work yourself back and pitch closer and closer to the catcher. Eventually you’ll wind up back at your original pitching spot. Then you can throw 15 to 20 fastball pitches.
Do this every practice, and before a game. Just be careful—you don’t want to hurt yourself.
- One-Knee drill. Face the catcher and kneel with the knee that’s the same as your pitching arm. Then bend the other knee 90 degrees forward. Throw at last 30 fastballs at full speed while you keep your body straight. This will boost your arm speed and upper body strength.
As a pitcher, you still need to remember that developing your speed pitch throw isn’t the only thing you need to do. You still need other different pitches in your arsenal. With curves, drop balls, change-ups, and other types of pitches, you can mix it up to really overwhelm the batters you face.