Maybe you've noticed a trend in high school softball pitching—most pitchers don't throw fastballs in games. It's possible for a pitcher to succeed by forgoing the fastball in favor of movement pitches. But more often than not, pitchers who throw mostly breaking pitches lose form mid-season, and what may have worked early no longer works.
Why are so many pitchers abandoning fastballs? The normal warm-up routine includes Snaps—pitching motions that involve the arm stretching down and being held stationary except for the wrist. Snaps are used to strengthen the wrist and forearm so the pitcher can gain velocity. But because the drill teaches pitchers to release the ball with their fingers directly behind it, it also produces a flat fastball, which is easy to hit. It's not effective, so coaches and catchers leave it out of game situations.
If you're trying to get stronger, lift weights. Use the drill below to add more spin, speed, and downward motion to your fastball.
- Stand with your body sideways about 10 feet from the catcher. Relax your arm straight down.
- Bending at the elbow, raise your hand belt-high toward second base, keeping your palm flat to the ground.
- Start the whipping action by pulling slightly down from your elbow and extending your arm in front of you toward the catcher, not the ground. Think of your overhand throwing motion—the arm stays relaxed with a slight bend and extends in front of your body toward your target. Repeat this same motion underhand.
- Keep your fingertips on the ball as long as possible. This creates topspin, which will give your fastball downward motion. Instead of releasing directly behind the ball, you release on top of the ball, sending it down 4 to 5 inches as it travels to the catcher.
- If you are a pitcher who snaps into your glove between pitches, try tossing the ball up to create as much spin as possible. If you adjust your finger position upon release, the fastball becomes more like a drop ball, which you can easily locate within the strike zone.
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