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Size, Arm Length, & Pitching Speed

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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor
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When it comes to pitching speed, tall softball pitchers with good physical coordination can (but don't always) have an advantage over height-impaired pitchers with shorter arms. 


That doesn't mean that short pitchers should feel inferior to their loftier counterparts.  Quite the contrary.  Arm speed (and consequently the speed of the ball)  at the release point is what ultimately determines the speed of the pitch.  A pitcher with a longer arm has a speed advantage ONLY if she makes the arm circle in the same amount of time as someone with a shorter arm.

2004 USA Olympic team pitcher Cat Osterman
takes a leaping stride of nearly 8-feet

Therefore, a shorter girl can be a successful pitcher if she uses various techniques to increase her arm speed (such as increasing the arm's "whipping" action, closing the shoulder faster, increasing wrist snap, and in most cases simply developing a stronger commitment) and, in addition to her fastball, she develops a good repertoire of off-speed and breaking pitches.

Typically, a good softball pitcher completes the hip-to-hip windmill rotation in about 2-tenths of a second or less.  The distance the ball travels in the arm circle during that time, as you can see on the chart below, ranges from 10 feet (for those with shorter arms) to more than 15 feet. 

Therefore, to make the ball go faster at the release point, the choices are to either:

(1) lengthen the arm, thus creating a longer radius of the circle, and subsequently
      a larger circle size (circumference = 3.1416 x diameter) , or
(2) make the rotation quicker by increasing arm speed.

Since stretching the arm to make it longer isn't a practical solution, we teach our pitchers how to make the arm rotation faster.

arm length - speed graph bitmap.jpg

So if you are an experienced pitcher and you want to add another 5 or 6 miles per hour to your fastball, all you need to do is to make the rotation 2-100ths of a second faster
(Make the arm circle in 18-100ths of a second instead of  20-100ths second)

Only 2-100ths of a second faster…that's your goal!



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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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