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  Outdated Pitching Rules
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An Opinion
by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor

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With its exceptionally high visibility as a sport for girls and women, it would be fair to assume that everybody participating is being treated equally.  However decades ago, as in basketball and other sports , restrictions were put in girls softball rules that do not apply to their male counterparts.  Presumably the thinking was to limit girls aggressiveness...to make the sport gentler and "less risky" than for boys.  Today, two such outdated rules remain that restrict girl and women softball pitchers, but do not apply to men.  We recommend that the NCAA and the ASA reconsider, and hopefully substantially modify or remove the fastpitch rules pertaining to:

NO LEAPING, REQUIRING THE "TOE DRAG"

REAR FOOT ON, OR TOUCHING AGAINST, THE PITCHING RUBBER

The image and reputation of softball, not just in the U.S. but around the world, has been tarnished by the dramatic increase in the number of illegal pitch calls recently, for the most part caused by the "leaping" violation...not keeping the rear foot in contact with the ground until the forward / stride foot lands.  In many cases, the calls were confusing to the pitcher, her coach, and in the case of televised games, even the announcers.  Pitchers who have often gone through many years of competitive pitching without being called for the violation are now experiencing strict enforcement by umpires.   Certainly, if a rule exists, it needs to be complied with.  And pitchers should be trained and coached to make certain they do not violate current rules.  However, we feel that both the "leaping" rule and the requirement for the pitcher's rear foot to be on (or touching against) the pitching rubber are not longer necessary in girls' and women's fastpitch softball.

TOE DRAG REQUIREMENT - With respect to leaping (having both feet in their air at the same time), here is how the ASA (Amateur Softball Association) rule is different for females vs. males.  Men can leap, women cannot:

- (Womenís and all JO Play) Pushing off and dragging the pivot foot in contact with the ground is required. If a hole has been created, the pivot foot may drag no higher than the level plane of the ground.

- (Menís) Pushing off and dragging the pivot foot in contact with the ground, or if both feet are in the air, having the toes of the pivot foot in the downward direction is required.

REAR FOOT IN CONTACT WITH THE RUBBER - Because a pitcher can transfer her weight from her rear to front foot to get better acceleration or "explode" off the pitching rubber, the requirement for the rear foot to be on or against the rubber can restrict her speed.  Here is how the ASA rule differs between girls and men:

1.        (Male)  The pitcher shall take a position with their pivot foot in contact with the pitcher's plate and their non-pivot foot in contact with or behind the pitcher's plate.

2.   (Female) The pitcher shall take a position with both feet in contact with the pitcher's plate. 
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With this obvious disparity in these pitching rules for males and females, we encourage to ASA and the NCAA to lead the way.   Do what is right.  Forget about what the thinking was when rules were written "back in the old days".  Make fastpitch rules for pitchers equal and consistent regardless of gender. 

- Gerald Warner

 

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