improve softball throwing mechanics

At Warbird, we’re excited to be able to take our baseball pitching expertise and apply it to a much needed gap: the overhand softball throw.  The following are three softball throwing velocity fixes that are simple and effective.

#1. Learn To Crow Hop

We spend much, much more time on teaching crow hops than we thought we would. Lucas and I didn’t realize before being flooded with softball players this year exactly how poor the average crow hop is.

We teach two versions:

  1. Infield Crow Hop
  2. Outfield Crow Hop

Duh, right? As a side note, the catchers’ crow hop is just a shorter, modified infield crow hop. We do teach that, but it’s not a broad teach – we address it only with catchers.

The keys to a proper crow hop are twofold: footwork and weight shift. Footwork takes a week, tops, to get; it’s simple and just a handful of repetitions satisfies the basics.

But, weight shift is the beast – the problem almost all of our gals have. Our goal, when their feet move and the drive foot (right foot for righthanders, left for lefties) contacts, the ground, is that they’ll get some hip displacement. What this means is that their lead hip sticks out in front as their weight “sits” back on the rear leg.

Sara (below) came in throwing in the 52-54 range, using the mechanics on the left. She recently was cruising at 57-58 over numerous throws, in part because her weight shift has improved. And, she still isn’t as strong at it as we want her to be, so we know 60s are in her future. In her video below, you can see a very slight, momentary pause on her backside – this has been one of the keys to her velocity increase.

#2 Long Toss With Lighter Balls To Eliminate A Low Elbow

Long toss is a great tool for teaching a “climbing” elbow. Really, the elbow doesn’t climb in a throw – we want the upper arm at shoulder height during the backswing, then it will stay even with the shoulders as it accelerates. It appears, from the side, to climb because the shoulders tilt. It’s good to help visualize proper arm action by referring to a good elbow as a climbing elbow, because the contrary is a dropping elbow.

One of the tools we used to facilitate this change was long toss with lighter balls – baseballs and underweight softballs helped her change her movement pattern, which we believe was poor in the first place due to the huge, heavy standard softball she is forced to throw. Getting quality practice with a lighter ball helped her groove in the new arm action, and now it sticks even with a heavy regulation ball.

#3 Teach Some Oomph

Isn’t it ironic that the utterance “oomph” has MPH in it?

The video below of Aspyn, one of our small 13 year olds, shows how tentatively she used to throw – hardly a follow-through, all arm and a very passive crow hop. Now, she aggressively crow hops, drives her chest forward and powers her arm over and through the ball. The average high school player throws in the 50-54 range. Aspyn touched 54 as a 73lb middle schooler…pretty absurd.

Sometimes mechanical “flaws” require very little technical change, they just need a “hey, throw the ball with some oomph and follow through to the floor!” Not everything is physics, biomechanics and drills. We did do a lot of drillwork with Aspyn, but far and away what she needed most was reinforcement on simply not holding herself back, and letting her body work as a whole.

Learn to Throw Harder!

For more on softball overhand throwing mechanics, check out my free eBook. It will teach you a TON about how to perform better on the field and fix throwing mechanics.

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