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  The Faster, MUCH Faster, Fastball
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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor

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An increasing number of 16, 17, and 18-year old college hopefuls are finding that college coaches do NOT feel that they are ready to pitch at the college level.   An ideal pitching candidate for most NCAA Division I and Division II colleges and universities needs to have:



  • Fastball speed – consistently over 60 mph in games
  • Placement – capable of placing the ball at any corner
  • Speed variation – the ability to throw all pitches at various speeds
  • Breaking pitches – at least two pitches that show significant movement every time
  • Poise – always demonstrating confidence and self-control regardless of the situation

 “I don’t have a fastball.  I was taught to always use my drop as my fastball,” the recruit told her new college coach.   Replied the coach “Well here, we need to see some faster pitches from you.  Here you’re going to have a fastball”.  Most college coaches recognize that a majority of pitchers coming to them have the ability of pitching faster than what they have demonstrating in club/travel ball and in high school.  If the choice is between:  throwing (a) a drop ball with slight movement at 58 or 59 mph or (b) a fastball at 62 or 63 mph, many situations would require the faster pitch.  However, many pitchers have not yet learned how to maximize their pitch speed.


Lori Sippel, the pitching coach at the University of Nebraska and head coach of the Canadian National Team recently said “…the fastball is making a return in college.”


As we noted in other articles on this website, the keys to increasing fastball speed include:

  1. Develop an EXPLOSIVE drive off the pitching rubber
  2. Have a good opening rotation of your trunk
  3. Focus on a long and fast stride
  4. Plant your stride foot and leg for correct resistance
  5. Put all of your effort into a hard, fast final downswing (arm whip) through the release

Unfortunately, during the past 10 years, many pitchers have been taught to use a rollover (snapping over-the-top) drop ball release as their “fastest” pitch.  This practice was started by male pitching instructors who, as former pitchers themselves, had adopted an “every pitch must be a breaking pitch” philosophy.   But the majority of them had used the “peel” method…not the “rollover” drop ball release.   As is obvious to most, rolling the hand over the top of the ball as it is being released decreases the speed of the pitch, and also increases the potential of tendonitis in the forearm, and even elbow and wrist injury (see more at )  

Cheri Kempf, the 3-time All-American pitcher and owner of the Club K softball training facility in Nashville says:  “The most powerful release for the fastest pitch is with the middle finger (behind the ball) .  Any twist, either a corkscrew, curve, or drop will slow the ball down…maybe 3 miles per hour.”  This “thumb-first, fingers behind the ball” release not only results in a faster pitch, but also lays the groundwork for using the “peel” method of throwing a dropping fastball.


John Gay, the nationally respected pitching coach in Vancouver, Washington says :    “Don't fall into the trap of thinking you can have a turn over drop that will be your fastest pitch.  The fastest ball you can throw is a drop and the fastest drop you can throw, and one that has the greatest spin, is the peel drop.  Just by the nature of the pitch, turning the hand over the top of the ball will slow the ball down.”  John Gay's contact info: ,   (360) 521-7763


We always want our pitching students to focus on breaking pitches...pitches that have significant, deceptive movement.    But we also have them work continuously on increasing the speed of their fastest pitch…a fastball.

If you don’t have a fastball or a peel drop that is considerably faster than your current fastest breaking pitch, develop one!


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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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