Throwing a softball uses very similar mechanics and grips as throwing a baseball. Both have similar structure and seams, so everything should look the same. Use these tips to get your accuracy and velocity to the best they can be. These are our tips for how to throw a softball properly.
The real difference between gripping a baseball and gripping a softball is obviously the size of the ball. When you grip a baseball, you aim for a four seam grip with your middle and index fingers across the horseshoe of the ball. The same grip applies for a softball.
The reason the ball moves in the air is because of the Bernoulli Effect. Bernoulli said that if you have pipe that is smaller in the middle, the air would go in at one speed, travel much faster through the smaller space and exit at the same speed as it entered. This effect can be used to explain the shape of airplane wings and how planes fly. The air in the sky is turbulent, but as it moves over the wing, it is calm and streamlined.
This same effect can be explained for a softball. See the stitches on the ball? They’re raised, meaning the air around the softball is calm and will cut through the turbulent air molecules similar to a plane’s wing.
Like we mentioned before, the grip of the softball is the exact same as the baseball: a four seam grip. The only difference, because the ball is bigger, is the addition of the ring finger to the grip. Your thumb should be gripped on the seam opposite, basically making a ‘C’ formation. It’s easy to put the whole ball in your hand, but you want to avoid this. Only your fingertips should be gripping the softball, it should not be sitting in your palm. The Bernoulli Effect has the same effect on a softball as it does on the baseball in that it will stay on a straight line if the ball is spinning backwards. You want to snap your wrist and have the middle finger release last, giving the ball that backward spin.
Your grip should be a four seam grip.
This is how to throw a softball properly. Your index and middle fingers should grip the ball perpendicular to the horseshoe of the seams or stitches. You want the ball to be released with the most perfect backward rotation possible. This is to deter the ball from veering left or right in the air. The four seam grip ensures that the ball will rotate backwards perfectly. Because your middle finger is a bit longer, it will leave the softball last and give it that backwards rotation.
No matter what, you want to make sure that your mechanics are correct. Start putting good habits into practice now and you’ll carry them for the rest of your life; and can pass them onto teammates or your children. This will ensure your muscles do not break down as quickly over time. Your body is your biggest asset and tool in the game of softball, take care of it the best you can to ensure a long, successful career.
Similar mechanics to baseball will be used when learning how to throw a softball, but it’s always good to refresh! Make sure your body is perpendicular to your target. This will allow your shoulders to be straight at your target. The ball should come above your shoulders making an ‘L’ shape so you don’t throw the ball like a shot put sacrificing distance and velocity. If you have the time, try to make sure you are stepping toward your target so all of your momentum is headed that way. When the ball leaves your glove, both hands should be moving in a symmetrical way until you get close to releasing the ball.
Once you’ve got the grip down and you feel confident of being able to repeat that throw, it’s important to learn how to get to a four seam grip when fielding the ball. Professional players can field a ball and by the time it leaves their hand, they’ve rotated the ball to grip it four seam. The softball doesn’t need to rotate more than a quarter to get a four seam grip, meaning no matter how you field the ball, you should be able to rotate it quickly in your hand to a four seam grip before it leaves your hand.
Repetition is the easiest way to get yourself to that grip every time you field a ball. Continue to field the ball over and over, practicing the process of rotating the ball to a four seam grip from glove to release. Once it has become habit, you will always be able to do it. Softball is a game of milliseconds and the faster you are able to release the ball the correct way, the better position you put yourself in the future.
Outfield players, try to incorporate and improve your crow hop to get more distance and velocity in your throws. At lower levels, it is more important to throw the ball on a rope, or straight line. It feels more natural to try and throw the ball higher so it doesn’t bounce. However, like we discussed earlier with the Bernoulli Effect, throwing it higher is detrimental to your velocity. When you try and throw the ball higher, the air combined with the backwards rotation of the ball will only hold it up in the air even longer. Throw it on a rope, and even if it bounces, it will still get there faster, which is ultimately the most important thing.
Finally, when you release the ball, make sure you are using your wrist for extra velocity and remember to release with your middle finger last to ensure the backward rotation and a straight throw.
Following these tips will ensure that you are using the correct mechanics and motions for a good throw. Good mechanics will protect your shoulder muscles from a quicker breakdown and will prolong your career. Follow these tips for how to throw a softball and your life will be made a lot easier. Getting into the habit of doing the right thing will mean that you will develop a consistent throw over the course of your career. You can find more tips like these throughout our blog as well as our velocity development program.