Slowpitch Softball Pitching Tips
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Slow-pitch softball is a game noted for big hits and high scores. The common perception is that pitchers lob the ball over the plate and that the defense will do the job and hold the batter to a single or double. However, a good slow-pitch pitcher will use the batter's aggressiveness against him and find a way to get a great hitter out in a crucial situation. It's not about shutting opponents out and dominating a lineup. It's about getting batters out at the key moments.
Throw Strikes Early
If you want to have a chance to slow down a high-powered offense from lighting up the scoreboard, you have to get ahead in the count. Getting a 1-2 or 0-2 count puts you in charge and may take away some of the batter's aggressiveness. If you fall behind, the hitter will zone in on the pitch he wants to see and unload on it. When you get ahead, he has to work to put the ball in play and the anxiety level goes up. When he's thinking about getting his bat on the ball and not embarrassing himself by hitting a weak popup, he's not going to be at his best.
Throw to the Mat
When you are pitching in slow-pitch softball, you are not trying to throw the ball over the plate between the batter's knees and arm pits. You are trying to hit the mat in back of the plate. That is what the umpire bases his strike calls on. You can't throw it higher than 12 feet, but you can flirt with that height and make it a difficult pitch for the batter to hit.
Making Plays in the Field
A pitcher in slow-pitch softball must be an excellent fielder. As soon as you let go of your pitch, you must drop back four or five steps and become an extra infielder. There's a wide area up the middle between your second baseman and shortstop. You have to be responsible for that spot on the field. Since you are throwing high arcing pitches, you will have the opportunity to get back to the position and make plays.
Learn a Variety of Pitches
The more pitches you have in your arsenal, the better pitcher you'll be. Learn to throw a straight pitch, which is basically a pitch where there is no movement of the ball. Use a slider pitch to make the ball curve to the left or right at the end of the pitch. If you are a right-handed pitcher, the ball will curve off to the left and vice versa if you are a left-handed pitcher. Learn to throw a curve ball, which curves in the opposite direction of a slider. Develop a spin ball. Depending on how you release the ball, you can put a forward or backward spin on the ball. Mixing up your pitches will keep the batter guessing.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.