A 12 Step Guide to Becoming an Ace: How to Pitch in Softball

Last updated on July 24, 2023

Softball pitching is an art that demands a unique blend of skill, strategy, and mental fortitude. In this guide, we provide a step-by-step breakdown of how to pitch in softball, covering essential techniques and tips to elevate your performance on the field. Whether you’re a novice pitcher looking to master the fundamentals or an experienced player seeking to refine your skills, this guide caters to all levels of expertise.

Step-by-Step Breakdown of How to Pitch in Softball

Grip the Ball

To grip the ball effectively, place it between your fingertips, not in your palm. This grip allows for better control and spin, essential for different pitches. Experiment with various grip styles, such as two-seam or four-seam grip, to find the one that suits your pitching style and feels most comfortable. Your grip can significantly influence the movement and speed of the ball, so practice different grips during training sessions to refine your techniques.

Additional Tip: Use your thumb to apply pressure on the bottom of the ball, creating a tight and secure grip. This added pressure will enhance your ability to execute different pitches with precision.


Your pitching stance forms the foundation for delivering accurate and powerful pitches. Stand on the pitcher’s plate with your pivot foot (non-throwing foot) on the rubber and your throwing foot slightly behind it. Keep your body balanced, with your weight evenly distributed between both feet. In addition to maintaining a stable stance, establish a consistent pre-pitch routine. A pre-pitch routine helps you get into a comfortable and confident mindset before each delivery. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it during practice and games to enhance your focus and rhythm.

Additional Tip: Consider incorporating a deep breath or visualization exercise into your routine to calm your nerves and boost your mental readiness. A composed and focused mind will positively impact your pitching performance and help you handle pressure situations more effectively.


The windup serves as the starting position for your pitch delivery. As you begin your windup, your arms should be raised above your head. Alternatively, you can opt for a stretch position where your arms are in front of your body. To add an element of surprise, consider incorporating a slight hesitation or change of pace during your windup. Such variations can disrupt the batter’s timing and make it more challenging for them to anticipate your pitch.

Additional Tip: Work on adding fluidity and rhythm to your windup to create a seamless transition from the start to the release of the pitch. Avoid any jerky or abrupt movements that may telegraph your pitch and give the batter an advantage.

Close up of pitcher with middle-infielder in background

Glove Position

Your glove hand plays a crucial role in concealing the ball from the batter until you’re ready to release it. Keep your glove in front of your body while in the windup or stretch, hiding the ball from the batter’s view. Utilize your glove as a decoy to distract and confuse the batter. Make subtle movements or fake motions with your glove hand to create doubt in the batter’s mind, making it harder for them to predict your pitch.

Additional Tip: Use your glove hand to maintain a consistent pace during your windup, ensuring it complements your body movements and doesn’t reveal your intended pitch. A smooth and synchronized glove-hand action can enhance your overall pitch deception.

Stride and Power Position

As you prepare to release the pitch, step forward with your throwing foot while transferring your weight from your back foot to your front foot. The stride is vital for generating power and setting up the proper mechanics for your delivery. Land your front foot consistently and ensure your stride length remains steady to improve your accuracy. To enhance your control, focus on maintaining a strong and stable front leg during the stride.

Additional Tip: Pay attention to your balance during the stride, avoiding over-striding, which can lead to loss of control and reduced velocity. A well-executed stride sets the stage for a powerful and accurate pitch delivery.

Arm Motion

The arm motion is a critical aspect of pitching, influencing the speed and trajectory of the ball. As you stride forward, bring your throwing arm back in a controlled manner, keeping it close to your body. This compact arm motion enhances accuracy and minimizes the chances of telegraphing your pitch. Work on rotating your hips and shoulders to generate power and create whip-like action in your arm. The more fluid and efficient your arm motion, the faster and more deceptive your pitches will become.

Additional Tip: Focus on a smooth and effortless arm motion, as excessive tension or rigidity in your arm can affect the fluidity of your delivery and lead to strain. Incorporate exercises that promote shoulder flexibility and arm strength to maintain a consistent and powerful throwing motion.

Release Point

The release point is the moment when you let go of the ball. It significantly affects the accuracy and movement of your pitches. Aim to release the ball near your hip, keeping your wrist firm for a straighter trajectory. Experiment with different release points to add variation to your pitches, making it more challenging for batters to read and anticipate your deliveries.

Additional Tip: Pay attention to the timing of your release point in relation to your stride and hip rotation. Consistent timing will lead to more precise pitches. Additionally, try to disguise your release point as much as possible, ensuring the batter has limited time to adjust and react to your pitch.

Follow Through

After releasing the ball, extend your arm towards the batter and follow through across your body. Your throwing hand should finish close to your opposite hip. A proper follow-through ensures that you maintain control over your pitch and reduces the risk of injury. Concentrate on finishing with a balanced follow-through to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your arm.

Additional Tip: Use your follow-through as an opportunity to maintain proper body posture and alignment. A strong and balanced follow-through not only helps with accuracy but also protects your arm from unnecessary stress and contributes to your overall pitching longevity.


Softball pitchers have an arsenal of different pitches, each with unique characteristics. Familiarize yourself with various pitches such as the fastball, changeup, riseball, curveball, and dropball. Each pitch requires specific grips and arm actions, so practice these variations to become a versatile pitcher. Master one pitch at a time before moving on to learn more complex ones. This approach will aid in refining your skills and boosting your effectiveness on the mound.

Additional Tip: Once you have mastered the basics of different pitches, focus on adding subtle changes in your delivery to enhance deception. Vary your arm speed and release points to keep batters guessing and off-balance. Developing a diverse pitching repertoire will make you a formidable force on the mound and a valuable asset to your team.

Ball in cleats

Improving Your Game

Practice and Repetition

Regular and focused practice is crucial for becoming a skilled pitcher. Engage in consistent training sessions to develop muscle memory and fine-tune your mechanics. Incorporate video analysis of your practice sessions. Observing your pitching form from different angles can help identify areas for improvement and guide your efforts in honing your techniques.

Additional Tip: Collaborate with your coach to create a practice plan that targets specific aspects of your pitching that need improvement. Tailor your practice sessions to address your weaknesses and enhance your strengths, ensuring efficient progress.

Study Hitters

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different hitters is essential for strategic pitching. Take the time to study the batting tendencies of opposing players. This knowledge will enable you to tailor your pitch selection to exploit the batter’s vulnerabilities and keep them off balance during games. Pay attention to the batter’s stance and their previous at-bats to adjust your pitch selection accordingly.

Additional Tip: Maintain a scouting journal to record the tendencies of various hitters and your experiences pitching to them. Refer to this journal before games to refresh your memory and devise effective strategies.

Mental Preparation

Pitching requires not only physical skill but also mental toughness and focus. Cultivate a positive and confident mindset before stepping on the mound. Visualize yourself delivering successful pitches and having control over the game. Develop a pre-pitch routine that helps you stay focused and composed, even in high-pressure situations. Mental preparation can greatly impact your performance and enable you to maintain your poise during critical moments in the game.

Additional Tip: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation into your daily routine to manage stress and stay mentally sharp throughout the season.

Work with Coaches

Seek guidance from experienced coaches who can offer valuable insights into improving your pitching technique and understanding of the game. Regularly communicate with your coaches about your goals and areas you want to work on. Be open to feedback and actively seek areas for improvement. Their expertise will prove invaluable in refining your skills and maximizing your potential as a pitcher.

Additional Tip: Schedule one-on-one sessions with your coaches to receive personalized feedback and targeted drills. The individualized attention will help you make significant strides in your pitching development.

Stay Fit

Pitching can be physically demanding, placing significant strain on your body. To stay at the top of your game, maintain good overall fitness through a well-rounded conditioning program. Include strength training exercises specific to softball pitching, as well as cardiovascular workouts, to build endurance and prevent injuries. A strong and conditioned body will not only improve your performance but also enable you to pitch effectively throughout a game.

Additional Tip: Incorporate flexibility exercises into your fitness routine to enhance your range of motion and prevent muscle tightness. Yoga or Pilates can be excellent additions to improve overall flexibility and core strength.

Stay Positive

Pitching can be a mentally challenging position, as it involves dealing with both successes and failures. Cultivate a positive attitude and focus on continuous improvement. Celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes to continually refine your pitching skills. Staying positive and confident will contribute to your growth as a pitcher and help you navigate the ups and downs of the game with resilience.

Additional Tip: Surround yourself with supportive teammates and friends who understand the mental aspects of pitching. Share experiences and encouragement with each other to foster a positive team culture and boost your overall confidence.

Coach talking to pitcher with team around

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the most effective way to increase pitching speed?

Increasing pitching speed requires a combination of proper mechanics, strength training, and conditioning. Focus on your stride length and hip rotation to generate more power during your delivery. Incorporate regular strength training exercises, such as resistance band workouts and plyometric drills, to strengthen your arm and core muscles. Additionally, engage in cardiovascular exercises to improve overall endurance and explosiveness on the mound.

How can I maintain consistency throughout a game and prevent fatigue?

Consistency and endurance are crucial for a successful pitching performance. To maintain consistency, develop a solid pre-pitch routine to help you focus and find your rhythm. Pace yourself throughout the game, taking short breaks between innings to stay mentally and physically fresh. Proper hydration and nutrition are essential for preventing fatigue, so ensure you fuel your body with balanced meals and stay hydrated throughout the game.

How can I effectively handle pressure situations as a pitcher?

Handling pressure is a critical aspect of pitching. Practice visualization and mental preparation techniques to build confidence and reduce anxiety. Focus on controlling the aspects of the game that you can influence, such as your pitch selection and execution. Embrace pressure situations as opportunities to showcase your skills and embrace the challenge. Remember that every pitcher faces tough moments, and maintaining composure and a positive attitude will go a long way in thriving under pressure.


In conclusion, mastering the art of softball pitching requires dedication, practice, and a deep understanding of the mechanics involved. Becoming a complete pitcher goes beyond the physical techniques. It also involves mental fortitude, strategic thinking, and continuous improvement. Understanding your opponents, maintaining physical fitness, and collaborating with coaches are all crucial aspects of improving your game and taking your pitching abilities to new heights. Embracing a positive attitude and mental preparation are equally essential for thriving under pressure and achieving success as a pitcher.

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