Softball pitching requires more than brute force. It requires strength, certainly, but it also requires a high degree of accuracy and flexibility as well. What’s more, it’s not all in the arm – it’s really all in the wrist. Too many pitchers focus solely on developing arm strength at the expense of wrist strength and flexibility, which has a detrimental effect on accuracy and even on speed, ultimately. This simple drill can allow you to improve those areas easily.
Choose an open area with no obstructions. The drill can be performed indoors, against a wall, or it can be performed outdoors using a pitchback. If you choose an indoor area, make sure it is open enough to allow pitching without potentially damaging furnishings or other items. A basement makes an ideal option, but other large, open rooms can work as well. The garage is another good solution. Outdoor areas are better suited to this drill, although players will need additional equipment (the pitchback mentioned previously).
Stand facing toward the wall in the stride position (your body should be sideways, as though you were on the field preparing to pitch to a batter). Flick the ball directly at the wall. Use only your wrist to propel the ball, not your arm. You should not windmill your arm here. The power should come straight from the wrist. The ball should strike the wall and then come directly back to you. If it does not, adjust your wrist angle so that it does on subsequent moves. Repeat the move until you are able to get the ball to return directly to you every time. Practice this drill several times per week to enhance accuracy and flexibility, while building wrist strength and improving your stride position.
The wrist drill above is ideal for combination with a slight modification, sometimes used as a drill in its own right. Called “hips closed”, the drill requires the pitcher to stand about eight feet away from the wall (or other equipment used) in the stride position. Perform the windmill, and the close your hips as you release the ball. It should strike the wall/pitchback and come directly back to you. If it does not, adjust your aim until you are able to get the ball to return to you consecutively.
Tips and Tricks
If you’re conducting this drill indoors, you’ll need a rubber. If you’ll be outdoors, a pitchback will be necessary, unless you have an outdoor wall suitable for the task. Essentially, any solid surface with no movement can be utilized here, although thicker materials are better suited to the drill (cinderblocks, bricks, etc.) as opposed to wooden surfaces like plywood, or soft materials like carpeting (such as the carpet remnant utilized in some speed drills).
While a pitchback is technically a giving surface, these aids are designed to use tension to spring the ball back toward the pitcher. Similar effects can be achieved using other equipment. However, if using equipment not specifically designed for softball pitches, make sure the netting is small enough to prevent the ball from passing directly through to the other side.
If you’ll be pitching indoors, do not use a standard softball as it will mark the wall. Instead, use an Incrediball for non-marking performance. A standard softball can be used if this drill is performed outside with a pitchback (the pitchback will not work well with an Incrediball,