Softball coaches like to put pressure on their pitchers to throw the ball fast. After all, the sport is called Fastpitch softball. But not every softball pitcher is built to throw high-velocity pitches. Even those who are, especially younger pitchers, should not focus on velocity until they are following a regular, consistent weight-training routine.
Fortunately, low-velocity pitchers can win games. Here is a guide on how to develop a low-velocity pitcher into a highly effective force on the mound.
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1. Changing Pitchers Keeps Hitters Off-Balance
It is more productive to use pitchers as a staff than to have one workhorse do all of the pitching. This is especially necessary to prevent overuse injuries in younger players. It also provides a big tactical advantage if done the right way. By using both low- and high-velocity pitchers in the same game, you can keep batters guessing and put all of your pitchers in a position to be successful.
2. Teach The Importance of Topspin
With a little work, pitchers can learn to put a “drop” motion on all their fastballs. Focusing on topspin on the fastball will do the trick. You can easily do this by telling pitchers to keep their fingers on the ball as long as possible. A high amount of topsin usually results in routine ground balls or pop flies, which takes pressure off the defense and leads to success for a low-velocity pitcher.
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If you have a pitcher with good drop motion on her fastball, your catcher and outfield have to adjust. Catchers need to play a little closer to the plate, cannot reach for the ball and must remain ready to block low pitches. Batters will struggle to make solid contact, and it will be harder for them to drive the ball past the infield. Outfielders should be able to play in a few steps and be ready for popups just over the infielders’ heads.
3. Instruct Pitchers to Work the Low Outside Corners
Accuracy is crucial to success for a low-velocity pitcher. One of the best tips you can give is to aim for the low outside corner. Most batters try to pull low outside pitches, which often results in weak hits. Make sure your low-velocity pitchers are proficient at locating low outside corners for both left- and right-handed batters. This can be worked on through drills and in practice.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Toss Two-Seamers
Two-seam fastballs work great for both low- and high-velocity pitchers. They usually aren’t as effective for medium-speed pitchers. Using different grips for a fastball creates different types of movement. Work with your pitchers to try out different approaches in practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works for each individual pitcher.
Watch this video to learn how to locate corners and throw a two-seam fastball.