For softball position players, the seams on the ball may seem a hindrance, but elite pitchers know the importance of every stitch. Cat Osterman—a three-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year—offers advice on finger placement and "pure spin," which enabled her to whiff more batters than any other pitcher in the history of college softball.
"A lot of people fail to realize that the seams are your friend," says Osterman, a 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist. "Driving on the seams is going to get your seams spinning the way you want them to, and you want your seams spinning, because they're obviously going to catch air and the ball moves."
To get your ball moving, grab a softball, some electrical tape and a partner, and perform Osterman's Tape Ball Drill.
Tape Ball Drill
• Wrap electrical tape once or twice across the seams of the ball
• Make sure tape is perfectly lined up in center of ball
• With partner, practice throwing a variety of pitches
• Vary your finger placement on seams depending on what kind of pitch is thrown
• Focus on watching the ball and tape move in a straight line
Benefit: Develops a nasty spin on your pitches // Emphasizes perfecting a pure spin and sharp break // Creates finger comfort with seams
Finding the Finger:
• The biggest thing is whatever pressure finger you're using—I use my index finger—you want to put that on the seam somewhere
• Any time you're gripping a pitch, make sure you grab a seam of some sort
Perfecting Pure Spin:
• Focus on trying to get as pure a spin as possible, which means that if you're technically doing it 100 percent correct, the tape would be in a straight line, and you'll be able to see that line the whole way
• Work on snapping the correct way, but at the same time make sure that your spin is correct, and don't settle for something just because you thought it moved
• The more pure your spin is, the sharper your movement is, and it's not a gradual curve—it's an actual break
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