Softball pitching drills are an essential part of training for anyone who wants to be a great player. Of course, every pitcher will also need to be able to throw with accuracy and speed. It takes time to be a great pitcher, but practicing regularly, will turn you into a pro in no time at all.
Developing the ability to visualise the perfect strike zone takes work, but to help you get the most out of your practice sessions, we have put together a list of some softball pitching drills that will improve your accuracy and skyrocket your skills as a pitcher.
If you are a beginner, there are some basic mechanics you should be aware of before practising any softball pitching drills. For example, to avoid injury, the correct stance and motion are all important when throwing a pitch.
Basic Softball Pitching Mechanics
The best way to avoid injury when pitching is to train with a coach or mentor. They are trained to teach softball pitching mechanics the correct way and to make safety a habit. The basic steps must remain intact to prevent any injuries and get the best performance out of every pitch.
Getting a Good Grip
Most pitchers hold the ball with the U seam facing to the side. When the ball is released, it allows it to spin from top to bottom. The proper way to hold and control the ball is by keeping a firm grip and not straining the wrist or forearm.
The Full Pitch
It is required the pitcher briefly touches the ball to the glove before the pitch. This creates a rhythm and forceful pitches. In softball pitching mechanics, it is proven to conserve the pitcher’s energy before the wind-up.
As the pitch begins, the arm starts with the backswing. The arm should then go into rotation, causing the body and the arm to move forward. It is important to keep the arm straight and never lock the elbow during the rotation. Doing so will cause severe damage. The downswing will finish the rotation right before the ball is released. A pitcher’s wrist should stay back and straight in the downswing causing a snapping effect when the ball is released.
Releasing the ball is the final step. The palm of the hand should always face upward upon releasing the ball. About the time the hand reaches the side is when the ball should be released.
Following Through with the Pitch
The last thoughts should always be to keep the arm in motion until the pitch is over. Proper leg and footwork throughout the pitch is also important for balance. Pitchers need to keep their head, body, and pitching arm straight to avoid injury and remembering consistency is the key and practice continues to enhance the performance.
Now we have gone over the basic mechanics for correctly pitching in softball, the following drills will help you put all of it together to make sure you throw the perfect pitch.
The Dummy Batter
This drill is a full motion pitching drill, which can improve a pitcher’s accuracy, aim and consistency. The Dummy Batter is made up of a wooden or cardboard cutout of a batter, standing in their first stance at the plate.
In front of the dummy is a line, which the pitcher can see as a “bullseye”, helping to visualise the perfect strike zone and also help increase the number of strikes thrown.
This drill is a great way to practice when it comes to safety concerns, especially when the pitcher is just starting out and learning a new pitch. This also gives them the opportunity to practice safely.
The 20-4 drill, also called the 10-3 drill for younger players, is very effective when it is combined with The Dummy Batter. It will not only improve your accuracy, but it will also improve your ball control too.
To begin this drill, the pitcher starts at a normal pitching distance or closer, depending on their skill and experience. The aim is for the pitcher to pitch 20 strikes before pitching 4 balls.
If the pitcher has reached the 4 balls before the 20th strike, they must start the drill again from the beginning. This drill is especially useful for learning new pitches.
When doing this drill, the pitcher should focus on accuracy, aim and technique, rather than endurance or speed. Pitches should also be released at about 60% of the pitchers normal pitching speed, as this is a very repetitive drill, with less downtime between pitches and also requires pitchers to pitch faster than usual.
Because of the repetitiveness of this drill, watching the pitcher for signs of fatigue is very important.
The aim of this drill is for players to throw the ball into a bullseye, which gradually decreases in size.
To begin, the coach tapes off a bullseye, in the shape of a square. The bullseye is either taped into a throwing or batting cage or a padded wall. Inside these squares are smaller squares, with the total amounting to five.
The player must then throw three to five balls consecutively into the bullseye, before the outside square is removed by the coach, creating an even smaller bullseye.
Depending on the age and playing ability of the player, the size of the bullseye could vary. However, the size of the bullseye should be challenging enough to improve their accuracy.
The number of balls that are thrown could also vary, depending on the players age and ability. This is something that the coach decides on and feels is appropriate.
Kneeling Partner Pitches
This simple, but fun drill requires two players. To begin, both players kneel on the ground, both wearing gloves and using just one ball. The coach decides how much distance to put between each player, with the distance being extended throughout the drill to make it more challenging.
The players pitch back and forth. If the catcher does not have to extend their arms out to their sides to catch the ball, then it is deemed as a good pitch.
The pitcher gets one point if the catcher has to extend their arms. The pitcher gets two points if the catcher has to lift a knee to reach for the pitch. Finally, the pitcher will get three points if the catcher falls while they are trying to get the pitch.
To stay in the game, the pitchers must stay under five points. The number of pitches the pitcher completes before reaching five points, is counted by the catcher. The catcher and the pitcher then switch, so the catcher becomes the pitcher and the pitcher becomes the catcher.
Hit the Bucket
This drill will not only improve accuracy, but it will also improve footwork in the infield.
The team is divided into two groups, with one half positioned at short stop and the other half positioned at second base.
A starting point is then marked off, which the players must stay behind until a ground ball is hit to them by the coach at home plate. Each of the groups players take turns fielding ground balls and throwing to home plate, where there are two stacked buckets.
One point is awarded when a player hits the top bucket on a bounce. Two points are awarded when a player hits the bucket without a bounce. The group that reaches 10 points first is the winner.
Hopefully these softball pitching drills will help you become an amazing and accurate pitcher, that throws the perfect pitch every time. Putting in the work will definitely pay off and you’ll impress your coach and your team in no time. If you enjoyed this article and would like some more drills, check out the batting drills article here.