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  How to Correct High Pitches
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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor

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As we mentioned elsewhere on this website, we get many questions regarding control of pitches.  And many involve a pitcher who has a problem releasing the ball late…which causes the pitch to go high.  Like throwing too many low and inside pitches, throwing high is a pretty common problem for younger girls...and sometimes even those who with considerable pitching experience.   Finding the cause, and then correcting it, is the key.

When a pitcher throws pitches high...or outside and a same-side batter (i.e.- right-handed pitcher throwing to right-handed batter) , it is likely one or more of the problems:

1)  BENDING AT THE WAIST and reaching the ball forward as it is released is a very common problem for young pitchers.  Unfortunately, when some pitchers go for accuracy, their pitching mechanics revert back to this “bend-and-reach-out” habit, causing the ball to go slower…and often high.  The problem therefore is usually caused by someone telling the pitcher to "just throw strikes".

2)  "SNAPPING" THE RELEASE – Some people, even coaches, sometimes tell a young pitcher to "snap your wrist when you release the ball".  Pitchers often focus way too much on “snapping” and consequently have an early or late forward wrist movement.   If the wrist snaps early, the pitcher’s hand is in a “cupped” forward position when the ball is released, causing it to go high.  I and most other softball pitching instructors who have good track records of helping pitchers develop good speed do not focus on an intentional wrist-snap...especially in their early years of pitching.   Instead, we teach pitchers to use the wrist snap as a natural or intuitive action as part of the arm whip...keep the wrist loose and slightly bent back on the downswing, and the wrist will drive forward automatically at the release.

3)   NOT ENOUGH “ARM WHIP” GOING INTO THE RELEASE – The “arm whip” discussed in another article is essential for most pitchers to make certain they maintain a consistent release point on their fastest pitches.   A slow downswing into and through the release can cause a late release and therefore a higher pitch.  To bring the pitch down, increase the speed of your “arm whip”.

4)   GRIPPING THE BALL TOO TIGHT – It is pretty obvious that if a pitcher holds the ball too tightly, she will likely hold onto it too long, causing a late release, and consequently a high pitch.  Quite often the pressures of a game…or an embarrassing situation (like throwing a ball low and into the dirt) can cause a pitcher to “tense up” and try to hold onto the ball too tightly.

5)   STIFF WRIST – When a pitcher keeps her wrist stiff and either straight or forward at the release, she will often throw high pitches.  We always have pitchers keep a relaxed arm with their wrist bent back slightly as they "whip" their arm through the final downswing and release.


6)   TOO LONG OF A STRIDE - Although a comparatively small percentage of successful pitchers use the short-stride "Stepping Style" method, the majority are "Leap-and-Drag" pitchers.   Leapers who uncomfortably “over-stride” considerably longer than their height often consistently throw high.   The solution is to make certain the stride is 90% to 120% of her height…and “feels right” for that pitcher.

7)  OVER ROTATION - At the release point of the ball, a pitcher gets maximum torque (and therefore speed) if her shoulders are most of the way closed (facing the catcher) and her hips are no more than halfway closed.   For a right-handed pitcher, if her right side comes around too aggressively, it can cause her to “over-rotate” her trunk and bend her arm at the release, consequently causing an outside…and often high…pitch.

8)   PRE-PITCH 'FOCUS POINT' – Poor pitch control can often be corrected by changing the "focus point"...the spot where the pitcher is looking as she prepares to start her wind-up and during the delivery.  A young pitcher will often be looking at the catcher's mitt.   So if she has a lot of high pitches, instead of staring at the catcher's mitt, she should look a little lower...perhaps at a spot on the catcher's shin guard...all the time while she is standing on the rubber and through her wind-up.   "You aren't trying to throw there;  you're just looking there as you pitch".


If side-stepping mentioned above is the problem, have her repeatedly practice landing with her toe on the power line.   If you haven't already read it, go to the "Power Line" page in the 1st & 2nd Year Pitchers section of this website.

If a slow closing rotation is the problem, use the "9 o'clock drill"
(stand in the "open" position perpendicular to the catcher, glove hand pointing toward the plate, throwing arm straight up in the air) by pitching full speed and practicing a good trunk closure (to about halfway closed at the point of release)  with the delivery.


If the back swing is the issue, videotape the pitcher from behind so she can see where the arm is going...discovery of the problem is 60% of the cure.


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If you have questions or need more information
E-mail us,  or call Pitching Instructor Gerald Warner in Colorado at (720) 200-4575


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