Tips For Throwing A Fastpitch Softball
The windmill pitch is, undeniably, one of the most striking aspects of a fastpitch softball game -- but it takes focus, skill, and time to master this incredibly effective and most commonly used pitch. Learning the mechanics of a fastpitch throw may look incredibly daunting to a youth softball player, but with these CoachUp tips, you'll be on your way to throwing strikes in no time.
Take It Slow
Of course, this should go without saying, but make sure you properly warm yourself up before seriously attempting to pitch. It's a fairly universal principle to abide by in any sport, but you should take extra caution in softball because of extra force placed on your arm and should after every pitch. Make sure you've taken the time to loosen up your shoulders before placing all that intense pressure on them. The windmill motion can be damaging if done incorrectly, so make sure your body is in the best condition -- a really good and simple stretch would be arm rotations, especially because they exclusively help mimic your exact pitching motion! To avoid injury, it's best to work yourself up to speed by starting slow and gradually increasing the pace of your rotation. For absolute beginners, try walking through the steps of an effective wind-up a few times and piece it together one step at a time. Although it may seem tedious and slow, the end result will be much more polished and reliable.
Stand on the pitching rubber with the heel of your push-off foot -- so, right foot for right-handers, left foot for any lefties -- resting on the front of it with your toe pointing toward the plate. The heel of your non-dominant foot should rest slightly behind the rubber. Hold the ball in the pocket of your glove close to your chest and relax your shoulders -- remember to keep good posture at all times as well! Even in practice, commit to creating good habits and your overall game will improve.
Grips change slightly depending on the type of pitch, but the first pitch that you'll learn is the fastball. Begin your fastball grip by placing the ball in the palm of your throwing hand. Hold the ball across the laces with your fingertips, utilize your legs for the ultimate amount of power and let it rip! However, you'll need to learn the other types of throws before getting too complex, but this is a nice, simple place to start. Find out what works for you and perfect it -- but for a more in-depth look at the pitchers, you can check that out here.)
It may help to visualize the rotation before attempting the windmill pitching form. Begin by swinging your hand with the ball down past your hip and into a backswing for momentum. As your hand swings forward, shift your body weight from your back leg to your push-off leg. While you're shifting your weight, remember to strongly push off of the rubber and take a big step out in front with your back leg.
As your arm rotates in front of your body, keep a closed posture. Only open your body up once your hand moves above your shoulder, around your head, and back down to your other shoulder. Release the ball as your arm swings in front of your open hips, closeing your body once again with the follow-through. Remember, the biggest keys to an effective pitch don't always come from your arms and legs! Make sure to keep your shoulders level, your head from bobbing, and your arm outstretched for maximum results.
The follow-through is important for a fast and accurate pitch. Don't forget to stay tall during the release and follow-through. After the release, let your arm finish its natural course -- this means that your arm should swing all the way through and back up to your chest. It's equally important not to stop your arm before it gets to your chest, this will ensure that you're getting the maximum momentum and speed, as well as avoiding unnecessary strain and pressure on the shoulder from its immediate stop.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect -- it may sound cliche, but it's true! Try standing five or so feet from a padded wall or wire fence and practice your windmill, form, and release the of the ball. To work on accuracy, create a strike zone box made of masking tape and practice pitching the ball to the middle and four corners of the box. Again, this isn't a skill you'll learn overnight, so stay at it, even if it seems frustrating.
(Related: Read about being mentally tough on the mound here.)
At the end of the day, many aspiring players enlist the help of a pitching coach to perfect their form and rotation. Consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers if you'd like to become an effective pitcher but are still struggling with the form and best practices. With us, you'll learn with an experienced coach that will notice flaws and set you straight. Improper form can cause inaccuracy and injury, so it is extremely important to pitch correctly! What are you waiting for?