Softball is a variation of baseball with, among other differences, a smaller field and a larger ball. It is one of the few sports that allow men and women to play alongside each other as well as against each other. In this article, we will cover how to slow pitch softball for beginners along with some tips and tricks to help you out in your game.
If you don’t already know, there are two teams each consisting of ten players. The team that bats is called the “offensive” team and the team that pitches is called the “defensive” team. Basically, the pitcher (you!) pitches the ball and the batter hits it and runs around as many bases as he can before the ball is retrieved by the opposing team.
There are two types of softball; fast pitch softball and slow pitch softball. In fast-pitch softball, there are nine players on the field, the pitch is obviously fast while bunting and stealing are allowed. In slow pitch softball, the ball must arch on its way to the batter and, there are ten players on the field in a ratio of five to five.
The ball used in softball, despite what the name suggests, is not very soft. As mentioned above, the ball is larger as compared to a regular baseball. It is about 12” in circumference which is about 3” larger than a baseball. The ball is usually covered in leather while some approved core materials include kapok, cork and rubber etc.
In slow pitch softball, you must set one foot on the pitching plate. While throwing the ball, you may take a step in any direction with the other foot, but the first foot must stay in contact with the pitching plate. This is necessary until the ball is in your hand. Then the ball must be lobbed underarm such that it has an arc which reaches a minimum of six feet and a maximum of twelve feet. Otherwise, the umpire will call it an illegal pitch.
A strike is called if your pitch is good but the batter doesn’t swing, or swings and misses, or hits the ball out of fair territory. Interestingly, a strike is also called if your pitch was bad but the batter tried to hit it anyway and misses.
Now that we have covered some basic knowledge, here is a step by step guide to pitching a slow pitch softball that is bound to strike out batters:
Step 1: Get the right grip
Getting the right grip on your ball is key. You need to be in full control of your stance and the ball. Press and hold the ball firmly in your palm. Plow your fingers tightly into the laces of the ball until your fingers bend around the ball. Wrap your thumb and pinky finger around the sides of the ball. This way of holding the ball ensures firm grip and control. No matter what kind of throw you have in your mind, having real control on the ball is what makes it possible.
Step 2: Get in position
It is very important to be in the right position before you pitch. As a matter of fact, good posture is essential for all players in baseball. You need to have your body in a poise that makes further movements easy and precise. A player who has good posture in the field always looks a natural and well, graceful! In order to pitch a ball that strikes out the batter, a good bet is to point your feet toward third base. Your hips should be facing the batter. Have your body bending slightly forward while your throwing arm is swinging behind you. Practicing your posture is essential and once you have done that, it will be very natural for you to wind up.
Step 3: Aim for the mat
While you are slow pitching softball, the main objective is to hit the mat behind the batter, not over the plate between the batter’s knees! The umpire calls a strike, when you hit the mat. You cannot hit higher than 12” but it can still be a difficult pitch for the batter to hit.
Step 4: Let it go
This is it. This step is the most crucial in striking out your opponent. Holding you glove to your chest, swing your arm forward. You need to have your eyes focused on the mat behind the batter. Release the ball from your hand as it passes by your hip. When you release the ball, make sure to exert force on it with your palm. You have to do this in such a way so that the ball has no spin at this moment. Giving the ball a spin at this stage will make it swing in random directions and angles.
If you follow the steps above, you will be able to slow pitch a softball. To improve your game even more, you should learn different varieties of pitches. Learn to throw a straight pitch, slider pitch, curve ball or a spin ball to keep your opponents guessing your move.