Winning a game of softball is largely dependent on the opposing team's errors, says certified strength and conditioning specialist and award-winning softball coach Marc Dagenais. This philosophy owes a great deal to the relationship between the pitcher and batter, which hinges on the element of surprise. To produce a variety of unpredictable pitches, you'll need plenty of power and control, both of which come from a proper grip.
The three-fingered grip, which accommodates most hand sizes, serves as a standard softball pitching grip. For this style, place your fingers over the seams of the ball, which face out to your side to form a “C” shape. Keep your fingers evenly spread and support the back of the ball with your thumb. Space out your index finger and thumb as though making a gun sign with your hand and keep your pinky relaxed under the front of the ball. Focus on holding the ball with your fingers, not your palm. If you have larger hands, use a two-fingered grip, keeping your ring finger next to your pinky along the bottom of the ball.
While the standard grip accommodates a fast pitch, the change-up allows you to take the batter off guard with a slower speed. For this grip, your palm makes contact with the ball. Place your thumb on top of the ball with your other four fingers evenly spaced along the “C”-shaped horseshoe of the ball's seams.
Drop Ball and Rise Ball
The drop ball, which adds a little spin to your pitch, places your grip directly on the seams of the softball. Place your most powerful finger along the ball's topmost seam as it faces out from you. Drive the ball downward with this finger as you release it, causing it to spin as it is propelled toward the batter. A rise ball also utilizes this grip, but you must snap your wrist up and propel the ball upward with your fingers upon release.
Curveball and Screwball
Curveball and screwball pitches use the same seam-focused finger placement as drop and rise balls, but require different methods of release. For a curveball, face your palm upward and snap your wrist to the side when releasing the ball to give it an arc. The screwball requires you to squeeze the ball with the tips of your fingers, releasing it with a pop.
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