25 March, 2011
Slow Pitch Pitching Drills
Compared to its fast pitch counterpart, slow pitch softball often gets overlooked in terms of technique. Yet there’s more to slow pitch pitching than simply lobbing a soft underhand toss toward a salivating slugger. Practicing certain pitching drills improves your accuracy and skill, helping deceive hitters no matter the situation.
Slow pitch hurlers can use spin to throw curveballs and confuse unsuspecting batters. Grip the ball with the seams, using the ridges to rotate the ball out of your hand. After taking a normal windup, release the ball with a quick twist of the wrist so your fingers go on top of the ball as if you’re turning a doorknob. As a right-hander, this spin will cause the ball to curve away from right-handed hitters. When facing lefties, twist your hand so it slices under the ball, and the pitch will drift away from the left-handers. Simply reverse the spins if you’re a left-handed pitcher. Practice 10 curveballs each way as a regular part of your pitching routine.
The simplest slow pitch drill involves placing a bucket behind home plate. Take your normal windup and practice tossing pitches into the bucket. Adjust the bucket on the inside and outside of the plate to further enhance accuracy. Start with 10 pitches and try and get as many as you can in the bucket. You can even use the drill for a friendly competition among teammates.
Another accuracy drill utilizes a batting tee positioned on home plate. Place a softball on the tee and a small screen behind the tee to simulate the strike zone. Now have each pitcher on the team take three pitches in an attempt to knock the ball from the tee. Award three points for knocking the ball off the tee, two points for striking the tee but not dislodging the ball and one point for hitting the screen. The player with the most points after a set number of rounds wins.
This drill requires a catcher, who also acts as umpire. The pitcher’s goal is to throw 10 strikes in as few pitches as possible. Teammates then take turns trying to beat the established mark, with the winner being the pitcher who needs the fewest pitches. The drill stresses accuracy and strike zone awareness.
Because batters put so many balls in play, slow pitch softball pitchers must be able to field their position. A good defensive reaction drill has the pitcher going through a normal follow-through without a ball. As soon as his follow-through ends, he must quickly assume a defensive position, because a teammate stationed 20 feet in front of him will throw a ball to the pitcher’s left or right. The pitcher must field the ball cleanly, moving as necessary to handle the imitation line drives, pop-ups and grounders.
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