19 Critical Fastpitch Pitching Drills for Peak Performance

Last updated on February 1, 2024

All pitchers know that it takes an immense amount of practice to become great. Not all pitchers know how to practice their skills and see true improvements on the field. In softball, with pitchers able to throw day after day, it can be a lot of pressure on one person to go out there and be the only person who touches the ball every single pitch. Not just physically, but mentally as well; there’s a lot on the line with each game for many athletes. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 21 fastpitch pitching drills to hone your craft. From the basics and fundamentals, to more advanced drills, to drills that put you in game-like situations, we’ve got it all covered.

Fundamental Fastpitch Pitching Drills

Target Practice Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: This drill is essential for pitchers aiming to dominate the strike zone. By focusing on hitting specific targets, pitchers develop a keen eye for accuracy and a consistent arm action, crucial in high-pressure game situations. This targeted practice leads to a significant improvement in pitch control, allowing pitchers to corner batters effectively. Additionally, the repetitive nature of this drill ingrains these precise movements into muscle memory, making accurate pitches more instinctive during critical game moments.
How to Execute: Begin with a well-defined target within the strike zone. Pitch from a modest distance, ensuring a focus on form and precision. As accuracy improves, incrementally increase the distance to challenge and further develop control over longer pitches.

Bucket Toss Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: Softball games often present unpredictable pitching situations. This drill prepares pitchers for this variability by simulating different pitch heights and locations. It develops a pitcher’s ability to quickly adjust their aim and technique, a skill invaluable against diverse batting strategies. The dynamic nature of this drill enhances reflexes, ensuring pitchers can react swiftly and accurately in various game situations. This adaptability is key in keeping batters guessing and maintaining control on the mound.
How to Execute: A partner should toss balls from a range of heights and directions. The pitcher’s goal is to adapt their pitching motion to accurately hit specific areas within the strike zone, mimicking the adjustments required during actual gameplay.

Knee Up Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: A powerful pitch starts with a strong and controlled leg drive. This drill emphasizes the importance of the knee-up position, a critical phase in the pitching motion. By focusing on this aspect, pitchers can develop a more forceful forward drive, translating to increased velocity and power in their pitches. Additionally, this drill reinforces the significance of balance throughout the pitching motion, ensuring that power is coupled with control for effective pitching.
How to Execute: Start with the stride knee elevated, focusing on a powerful but controlled leg drive towards home plate. Ensure that this motion is fluid and balanced, aiming for a strong, yet controlled pitch delivery.

One Knee Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: Pitching efficiency often hinges on the pitcher’s balance and stability. This drill isolates these elements, allowing pitchers to concentrate solely on their upper body mechanics. By pitching from a kneeling position, pitchers can fine-tune their arm movement, shoulder alignment, and release techniques, leading to more consistent and precise pitches. This focused practice is particularly beneficial in correcting and refining specific aspects of a pitcher’s form, contributing to overall pitching effectiveness.
How to Execute: From a kneeling position, pitchers should focus on maintaining a stable and balanced upper body. Each pitch should be deliberate, with an emphasis on smooth arm movement and precise release points.

Add-on Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: Endurance and the ability to maintain performance over longer distances are vital for pitchers, especially in prolonged games. This drill is designed to incrementally challenge a pitcher’s arm strength and stamina. By progressively increasing the pitching distance, pitchers are encouraged to maintain accuracy and power even as fatigue sets in. This not only builds physical endurance but also cultivates mental toughness, preparing pitchers for the demands of extended play.
How to Execute: Start pitching from the mound and with each successful pitch, gradually step back, increasing the distance. Focus on sustaining both the strength of the pitch and its accuracy, replicating the conditions faced in later innings of a game.

Long Toss Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: This drill is pivotal in building a pitcher’s arm strength and enhancing their ability to control pitches over long distances. Regular practice of the long toss drill contributes significantly to a pitcher’s overall mechanics, including arm action, shoulder stability, and follow-through. This enhancement in mechanics not only increases pitch effectiveness but also helps in preventing arm fatigue and injuries. Furthermore, the drill is excellent for improving a pitcher’s endurance, ensuring they can maintain a high level of performance throughout the game.
How to Execute: Engage in long-distance throwing with a partner or towards a specific target. Begin at a moderate distance and gradually increase the range. Focus on maintaining proper pitching form, ensuring each throw contributes to developing stronger, more controlled pitching skills.

Advanced Fastpitch Pitching Drills

The Knee Drive Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: The key to a powerful pitch lies in the strength of the pitcher’s lower body. This drill is specifically designed to enhance hip stabilization and glute activation, fundamental for generating force in a pitch. By focusing on these aspects, pitchers can achieve a stronger push off the mound, leading to increased velocity and power in their pitches. Additionally, this drill aids in overall pitching stability and control, ensuring a more balanced and effective delivery.
How to Execute: The pitcher should concentrate on stabilizing the hips and engaging the glutes to maximize the push-off force from the rubber. This movement should be practiced repeatedly to develop both strength and consistency in the pitching motion, emphasizing the integral role of the lower body in pitching dynamics.

Changeup Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: A well-executed changeup can be a pitcher’s most deceptive tool. This drill trains pitchers to effectively vary their pitch speeds while maintaining a consistent delivery style. By practicing changeups alongside fastballs, pitchers learn to mask their intentions, keeping batters off-balance and uncertain. This ability to disguise a changeup as a fastball adds a crucial element of surprise in a pitcher’s repertoire, often leading to key strikeouts or mis-hits in games.
How to Execute: Regularly alternate between fastballs and changeups during practice. Focus on keeping the physical delivery of both pitches as similar as possible, paying particular attention to arm speed, release points, and overall body mechanics.

Arm Speed Pitching Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: For pitchers aiming to reach advanced levels of play, developing arm speed is crucial. This drill employs the use of both a regular softball and a weighted ball to strengthen pitching muscles and increase the speed of the pitch. The variation in ball weight challenges the arm muscles differently, promoting strength and speed. This drill is essential for pitchers looking to elevate their pitching velocity and power.
How to Execute: Alternate between throwing a regular softball and a weighted ball, focusing on increasing arm speed. Emphasis should be placed on maintaining proper pitching form throughout the exercise, ensuring that the increased speed does not compromise technique.

Wall Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: The Wall Drill targets common pitching errors, promoting a fuller arm extension and correcting the posture to avoid “T-Rex” arms or too much height in the arm’s movement. It ensures the development of a smooth, complete arm circle, essential for accurate and powerful pitching. This exercise is instrumental in establishing a consistent release point, enhancing pitch control and effectiveness. Through repetitive practice, pitchers can also reinforce muscle memory for the correct arm path, crucial for long-term performance improvement.
How to Execute: Stand close to a wall with the pitching arm side facing it, ensuring not to touch the wall. Begin with your glove hand pointed towards your target, and with the ball in your pitching hand, trace a circle along the wall. This motion helps in focusing on a smooth arm path.

Single Leg Kickbacks

Why It’s Beneficial: Core and glute strength are paramount in establishing a stable base for pitching. This drill targets these crucial muscle groups, enhancing the pitcher’s ability to stabilize their hips during the pitching motion. A stable hip region leads to more controlled and effective pitches, as it forms the foundation upon which the upper body mechanics operate.
How to Execute: Swing your leg back like you’re in the middle of your pitching motion, and then complete the rest of the pitch. Make sure to focus on your power through the finish, using your hips and momentum to add speed.

Walk Through Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: This drill is a comprehensive approach that blends mechanical refinement with strength development. It’s instrumental in enhancing a pitcher’s overall efficiency and strength in their pitching. The drill is particularly beneficial for building endurance and refining the intricate details of the pitching motion, making it a versatile tool for pitchers looking to elevate their game.
How to Execute: Start the drill behind the rubber, then walk forward, integrating a pitching motion. Utilize both a weighted ball and a regular ball in this exercise. This repeated practice is key to building both physical strength and refining the nuances of the pitching motion, ensuring a balanced development of skills.

Half Circle Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: Proper arm positioning is critical in preventing shoulder injuries and achieving optimal pitching speed. This drill teaches pitchers to maintain their arm in a half-circle motion, which resembles a whip-like action, essential for increasing pitching speed. It also encourages pitchers to keep their arm unlocked during the motion, allowing for more fluid and effective pitches.
How to Execute: Focus on keeping the arm in a consistent half-circle motion throughout the pitch. Ensure that the arm remains unlocked, utilizing a whipping action to generate speed, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the pitch while also prioritizing safety.

Game Situation Fastpitch Pitching Drills

3 Minute Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: This intensive drill is designed to enhance a pitcher’s arm speed and build endurance, crucial for maintaining performance under pressure, especially in later innings. By pitching continuously over short, intense intervals, pitchers develop the ability to deliver high-quality pitches even when fatigued. This exercise is excellent for conditioning the pitcher’s arm and body to sustain energy and efficiency, mirroring the demands of a tightly contested game where every pitch counts.
How to Execute: The pitcher should aim to deliver as many pitches as possible within three separate one-minute intervals, taking short breaks between each. The focus is on rapid delivery and quick recovery, maintaining a steady, fast-paced rhythm. This drill not only tests physical stamina but also mental toughness, challenging the pitcher to keep their form and precision even as fatigue sets in.

First Batter Out Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: Securing an out against the first batter of an inning is crucial for setting a positive tone and gaining early control. This drill emphasizes the importance of a strong start, which can diminish the likelihood of offensive rallies by the opposing team and boost the confidence of the pitcher and their defense. It trains pitchers to focus on delivering their best pitches right from the start, understanding the psychological and strategic importance of the first out in an inning.
How to Execute: Focus on developing and practicing pitches specifically tailored to retire the first batter efficiently. This may include studying and exploiting the batter’s weaknesses or perfecting certain pitches known to be particularly effective against lead-off hitters. This targeted approach helps pitchers begin each inning with a strategic advantage.

Rapid Fire Pitching Drill

Why It’s Beneficial: This drill is geared towards improving a pitcher’s ability to maintain consistent mechanics and rhythm when delivering multiple pitches in quick succession. It simulates the conditions of an intense game where rapid, back-to-back pitches are required. This exercise is essential for developing a pitcher’s endurance and ability to keep their technique solid, even when under physical stress. It’s an effective way to condition the pitcher for situations where sustained performance is crucial, such as during extended innings or high-pressure moments.
How to Execute: Have the pitcher execute a series of pitches as quickly as possible, maintaining a fast pace until a predetermined number of balls are pitched. The key is to focus on speed without sacrificing the quality of the pitching mechanics. This drill builds muscle memory, ensuring you maintain proper form even when pushing your body to its limits.

Live Batting Practice

Why It’s Beneficial: Live batting practice is a critical exercise for both pitchers and hitters, offering a realistic game-like experience. For pitchers, it provides an opportunity to practice against actual hitters, adjusting their techniques in real time. This exposure is invaluable for understanding how different pitches work against live batters and refining their strategies accordingly. For hitters, it’s an essential practice in timing, pitch recognition, and adapting to various pitching styles, improving their readiness for real game situations.
How to Execute: Arrange a batting practice session where pitchers throw an array of pitches to hitters, varying the styles, speeds, and types to simulate a real game experience. This should include a mix of fastballs, changeups, curveballs, and other pitches commonly used in games. The goal is to create a batting environment that closely replicates actual game conditions, providing a comprehensive training experience for both the pitcher and the batter.

Full Count Challenge

Why It’s Beneficial: Pitching in a full count situation is a common occurrence in softball games and requires a pitcher to demonstrate both mental toughness and strategic acumen. The Full Count Challenge drill focuses on developing a pitcher’s ability to handle stress, make calculated decisions, and deliver precise pitches under high-pressure conditions. This drill is crucial for teaching pitchers how to navigate these tense moments, focusing on maintaining their composure and executing their pitches with confidence and accuracy.
How to Execute: Set up scenarios where the pitcher works with a full count (3-2). Emphasize the importance of staying calm, choosing the right type of pitch for the situation, and executing it with precision. This drill should mimic the high-stress atmosphere of a real game, challenging pitchers to stay focused and make smart, strategic decisions under pressure.

Bases Loaded Scenarios

Why It’s Beneficial: Pitching with the bases loaded is one of the most challenging scenarios in softball, demanding a high level of skill, mental fortitude, and strategic insight. This drill prepares pitchers for these critical moments, focusing on their ability to remain composed, execute strategic pitches effectively, and leverage the support of their fielding team. Successfully navigating these high-pressure situations is key to minimizing runs and maintaining leads in closely contested games.
How to Execute: Simulate situations where the bases are loaded, and the pitcher must work to prevent runs from scoring. The pitcher practices a variety of pitches and strategies to efficiently retire batters without conceding runs. This includes focusing on precise pitch locations, selecting the right types of pitches, and understanding the overall game situation to make the most effective decisions in these high-stakes moments.

Pitcher in the middle of her windup


With these 21 fastpitch pitching drills, pitchers can develop the tools needed for excellence. They ensure that pitchers are well-prepared for the different demands of the game, from mastering the strike zone to handling high-pressure situations with confidence. Ultimately, consistent practice and dedication, along with these drills, will not only refine a pitcher’s skills but also elevate their performance on the diamond.

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