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How to Throw Different Softball Pitches

By M.C. Postins

Throwing a softball might seem easier than throwing a baseball, but the fundamentals are just as challenging. Softball pitchers need to know at least four quality pitches if they want to excel, and those pitches require the right timing, wrist release and hand positioning.

The fastball: Hold the ball with the tips of all four fingers across the seam that forms the U on the ball. There is little to no movement on this pitch. Your windup should feature a tight arm circle, keeping your arm close to your ear and then to your hip as you follow through. At release, make sure to snap your wrist. A pitcher's repertoire is built around the fundamentals of the fastball.

The change-up: Throw this pitch in the same way you do a fastball, but hold the ball as far back in your hand as possible and throw it without the wrist snap. A change-up should be 12 to 15 mph slower than a fastball.

The drop ball: Throw this pitch like the fastball, but with the pads of your fingers on the side of the seam. Take a shorter stride and land with your weight on your stride leg. At release, stand tall, relax your shoulders and keep your elbow close. Then snap the ball up off your fingertips to promote the spin. An effective drop ball falls below the batter's bat as the ball spins quickly from top to bottom.

The curve ball: Use the same grip and windup as a fastball, but twist your wrist at release to promote a curve in either direction. For instance, a right-handed pitcher should twist his wrist to the left to throw a curveball away from a right-handed hitter.

The rise ball: Grip the ball with your middle finger against the top seam, your ring finger against the bottom seam and your index finger tucked against the ball. At release, make sure to snap the ball from palm down to palm up, which promotes a tight backward spin. Also, use a long, aggressive stride, shifting your weight to your back leg and lowering the release point of the pitch.

The screwball: Grip the ball similar to a fastball. At release, roll your wrist to the right (for a right-handed pitcher). This causes the rotation to start at the middle of the plate and move toward the inside part of the plate for a right-handed batter (and away from a left-handed batter). The pitch's movement makes it effective against right-handed hitters who can't hit an inside pitch.

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