Just because softball pitches are delivered underhand doesn’t mean they are any easier to hit than baseball pitches or require any less effort to perfect. Softball employs a number of different pitches, each of which are facilitated by a certain grip on the ball. Perfecting those grips can make for more effective pitches and make it more difficult for your opponent to hit the ball.
Four Seam Fastball
One of the most common pitches in softball is the fastball. In order to get the ball spinning and traveling at maximum velocity, a proper grip must be used. To do the grip, hold the ball in your hand with your palm up and make sure all your fingers are spread evenly over the longest part of the softball seam. Depending on how big your hand is, you may either need to spread all your fingers over the seam or slide your pinkie slightly to the side so it’s not aligned with the seam curve. You can also do a two-finger fastball by using only two fingers on the seam, but it will not have as much drop as the four-seam fastball.
To get proper curve on the ball, hold it in your hand and curve your thumb so it is resting below the ball. Then curl your index finger on the side of the ball so it is bent at about a 90-degree angle. Keep your hand below the ball through the pitch as you will have less of a tight grip on the ball because of the thumb position.
The knuckle curve is a wicked pitch that will have hitters guessing every time you deliver the ball. To perfect the knuckle curve grip, hold the ball in your hand as if you were doing a four seam fastball grip. Curve your index finger so your knuckle is touching the ball but not on a seam. As you deliver the pitch like a fastball, push your index finger out as hard as possible, which will create a sideways spin on the ball.
A changeup can be a deceptive pitch that looks like a fast ball but travels more slowly to the plate, causing batters to swing early. As its name implies, the circle changeup is done by holding the ball as you would a four seam fastball and creating a circle with the index finger and thumb. The circle should be on the side of the ball so the remaining three fingers are supporting the ball. Upon releasing the pitch, pop your wrist so the circle is moving toward the pitcher. This will create the illusion of the fastball while slowing down the velocity of the ball.