Old Drills, Warm-Ups & Methods Limit Young Softball Pitchers
Softball Pitching Is A Movement That Never Stops
Many of the old school drills, philosophies and warm-up routines are limiting our new young pitchers' ability to maximize their velocity and ability to throw spins.
Look at high-level pitchers playing college softball. What is being taught at the young level is not what they do. High-level pitchers spend more time squared up to the target and allow their throwing-side hip to move slightly as the arm clears the hip. Teach elbow speed, arm slots and arm circles if you want real speed and consistent control.
One of the major issues killing velocity is the use of wrist snaps, K drills and other drills that break down the delivery into smaller parts. Pitching is a movement that never stops. There is not a point in the delivery where the wrist snap is an isolated movement. Any drill that segregates the pieces or stops and starts the arm is of no real use.
We see so many players getting really good at these stagnant drills, but can never execute the movements once the delivery becomes one piece.
The elbow being flexed and pulling the hand into the hips in the delivery starts the wrist action. The elbow and hand need to work together into and through the release. Using the wrist snap takes away the elbow movement necessary to develop speed into the hips.
When players use K drills in warm ups, their feet are static, eliminating the drive of the back leg in the pitch. This also disrupts the timing between the stride leg landing and the elbow pull-down into the hip.
Opening and closing of the hips also kills velocity. This has everything to do with direction, momentum and strength. We are telling our pitchers to drive towards home plate, but have them turning their body in mid-stride or earlier. They are then turning their hips again into release, to all go in one direction: straight. This is a lot of wasted motion. The more drive we can get straight from the back leg, the farther the stride. The more they use the biggest muscle in the body (the glutes), the less issues they have with stride direction. Players need to almost sprint towards home plate to maximize leg drive and speed.
Maximizing speed and spin on the ball should be a player's goal through their training. To achieve maximum speed, players need to focus on drills that simulate their full delivery and where their shoulders control their direction. Players should also get into a strength and conditioning program that focuses on explosive movements.
This article was written by Marc Russo, Director Of Softball Instruction, and is a compilation of several college and international pitching instructors insights that Frozen Ropes has integrated into its Softball pitching model.