Fastpitch softball features six basic pitches: fastball, change-up, drop, curve, screw and rise. Pitchers use variations of these pitches (e.g., the drop-curve) to keep batters guessing. But they also need to keep in mind what makes these pitches successful.
Fastpitch Softball Pitching Keys to Success
Winning requires teamwork. Pitchers and their teammates should work together from warm-ups through the post-game meeting. This builds trust and team chemistry, which is the foundation of championship teams.
2. Change Speed
If you throw at only one speed, batters will need just one at-bat to time up your pitches. You need a fast, medium and slow pitch. The fastest pitch will be your fastball, and your change-up will be your slowest pitch. The medium-speed pitch can be a turnover drop ball or a curveball.
3. Break the Plane
As with speed, batters can easily pick up on inside and outside pitches. To dominate, you need at least one pitch that moves up or down. Every pitcher should have good control over drop balls. Older and faster pitchers can add rise balls. Fastballs, change-ups, curves and screws can also “drop.”
4. Get Ahead
The goal for every pitcher is to get to a 1-2 count or get the batter out before that. The more pitches a batter sees, the easier it is to get a hit. It also makes the pitcher throw extra pitches and wear down.
5. Strikeout Location
Every pitcher needs to practice throwing “strike out” pitches. The usual spots are low and away or up and inside. Whatever pitch you feel most confident in should be your strikeout pitch.
6. First Batter Out
Keeping pressure off your defense does wonders to reduce fielding errors. The most important batter of every inning is the first one. Your teammates have practiced “nobody on” defense since they started playing softball. The more times they are put in that situation, the less they have to think and worry about errors.
7. Tough with Two
This is one of the hardest mental challenges in softball. “Tough with Two” means do not relax, celebrate or get excited with two outs or two strikes. The inning is over after three outs, and batters are out after three strikes. Three is the magic number, not two.