Here’s Exactly What You Need to Know About Pitch Calling in Softball

Last updated on September 5, 2023

If you’re a softball pitcher, coach, or catcher, you know how important pitch calling is. Pitch calling is the process of selecting which pitches to throw during a game, and it can make a huge difference in the outcome of the game. The right pitch at the right time can get you out of a tough situation, while the wrong pitch can result in a hit or even a home run.

What Is a Softball Pitch Calling System?

A pitch calling system is a set of signals and strategies used by the pitcher, catcher, and coach to communicate which pitches to throw in different situations. It’s an essential tool for any team looking to maximize their performance on the field.

There are many different pitch calling systems out there, and each one has its own unique approach. Some systems rely on hand signals, while others use a combination of verbal and nonverbal cues. Some systems are more complex than others, with multiple signals for different types of pitches and locations.

Why Softball Pitch Calling is Important

fastpitch pitcher

Softball pitch calling is an essential aspect of the game that can make a significant difference in the outcome of a match. The pitcher, catcher, and coach must work together to call the right pitches to keep the batters off balance and increase the chances of getting outs.

When you call the right pitches, you can help your pitcher gain confidence and control the game’s pace. A good pitch caller can help a mediocre pitcher look great and an All-American pitcher look mediocre. Not only that, but you can help the pitcher outthink the batter and increase the likelihood of getting a crucial out.

What Is a Softball Pitch Calling Chart?

A softball pitch calling chart is a tool used by the catcher and pitcher to communicate which pitches to throw in different situations during a softball game. It helps the catcher to track the pitches that have been thrown and to make informed decisions about which pitches to call next. The chart can include information about the pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses, the batter’s tendencies, and the count. It can also provide guidance on how to pitch to different types of hitters

Softball Pitch Calling Strategy

OK, so we’ve established that pitch calling is an essential part of the game. It can make the difference between a strikeout and a hit, and ultimately, a win or a loss. In this section, we’ll discuss some strategies to help you improve your pitch calling and lead your team to victory.

Understanding the Count

The first step in pitch calling is understanding the count. The count refers to the number of balls and strikes on the batter. By knowing the count, you can predict what pitch the pitcher should throw next. For example, if the count is 0-2, the batter is in a defensive position and is more likely to swing at anything close to the plate. Therefore, you might call for a pitch outside the strike zone to try to get the batter to chase.

Reading Hitters

Another important aspect of pitch calling is reading the hitters. By watching the batter’s stance and swing, you can identify their strengths and weaknesses. For example, if a batter has a long swing, they may struggle with a fastball up in the zone. By calling for a high fastball, you can take advantage of this weakness and potentially get a strikeout.

Identifying Weaknesses

Identifying a batter’s weaknesses is crucial in pitch calling. By knowing their weaknesses, you can call for pitches that they are less likely to hit well. For example, if a batter struggles with off-speed pitches, you might call for a changeup or curveball to keep them off balance.

Mixing Pitches

One of the keys to successful pitch calling is mixing pitches. By calling for a variety of pitches, you can keep the batter guessing and prevent them from getting comfortable in the batter’s box. For example, you might call for a fastball up in the zone followed by a changeup low and away.

Setting a Pattern

Finally, it’s important to set a pattern in your pitch calling. By establishing a pattern, you can keep the batter off balance and prevent them from predicting what pitch is coming next. For example, you might call for a fastball inside, followed by a curveball outside, and then a changeup low and away. By mixing up the location and type of pitch, you can keep the batter guessing and increase the likelihood of a strikeout.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

As a coach or catcher, it can be challenging to make the right pitch call every time. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when making pitch calls:

Overthinking Pitch Selection

It’s easy to overthink pitch selection, especially in high-pressure situations. However, overthinking can lead to indecision and missed opportunities. Trust your instincts and the pitcher’s strengths when making pitch calls. Remember, sometimes the best pitch is the simplest one.

Ignoring the Batter’s Tendencies

It’s essential to pay attention to the batter’s tendencies when making pitch calls. If a batter has a weakness for a particular pitch, take advantage of it. Likewise, if a batter is hitting well on a particular pitch, consider changing up the approach. By ignoring the batter’s tendencies, you’re giving them an advantage.

Not Adjusting to the Situation

Every game and every inning is different, and the situation can change quickly. As a result, it’s essential to adjust your pitch calls accordingly. For example, if the team is up by a few runs, it may be best to pitch more conservatively to avoid giving up a big hit. On the other hand, if the team is down, it may be time to take a few more risks to try and get back in the game. Additionally, if there’s a fast runner on base, you may want to avoid off-speed pitches that will give the runner more time to steal. Though there is no leading in softball, there is still some gamesmanship to stopping your opponent from stealing a base.

Frequently Asked Questions

A catcher with his glove out making a funny face

How do you know what pitch to call in softball?

Knowing what pitch to call in softball can be a challenge, but it ultimately comes down to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your pitcher and the tendencies of the opposing team’s batters. Some factors to consider when calling pitches include:

  • The count: Different pitches may be more effective depending on the count, such as throwing a rise ball when ahead in the count.
  • The batter: Consider the batter’s strengths and weaknesses, such as if they struggle with off-speed pitches or if they have a tendency to chase pitches out of the zone.
  • The pitcher: Take into account your pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses, such as if they have a dominant fastball or a reliable changeup.
  • The game situation: Consider the score, the inning, and the overall flow of the game when making pitch calls.

What is the best way to call pitches?

There are several strategies that can be effective when calling pitches in softball:

  • Develop a game plan: Work with your pitcher to develop a plan of attack for each batter based on their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Stay unpredictable: Mix up your pitch calls to keep the opposing team guessing and prevent them from getting comfortable at the plate.
  • Be confident: Trust your instincts and don’t second-guess yourself when making pitch calls.
  • Communicate effectively: Use clear and concise signals to communicate with your pitcher, and make sure you’re on the same page before each pitch.

Remember, pitch calling is an art that takes time and practice to master. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies and techniques to find what works best for you and your team.


It’s also important to be flexible and adjust your pitch calling based on the game situation. Don’t get stuck in a set pattern or rely too heavily on one pitch. Mixing up pitches and locations can keep the batter guessing and give your pitcher an edge.

With practice and experience, you can become a master at calling pitches and help your team dominate the game!

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