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Crow Hopping, Foot Dragging, & More

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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor
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There are three often-violated rules in girls' fast pitch softball that are misunderstood by many pitchers, coaches, and even some umpires, and consequently are often not enforced.  All three  were designed to prevent some pitchers from having an unfair advantage over other pitchers…and batters.   These two definitions and rules for "leaping" and "crow hopping" are often misinterpreted, and wrongly used to define each other.  What we offer here is an attempt to clarify the meaning of the three rules so they can be more uniformly understood and complied with:

1)   A CROW HOP is not the pitcher's failure to drag the push-off foot along the ground.  A crow hop is, as the name implies, a forward hop or step off the pitching rubber by the pivot/push-off foot (typically moving it forward a foot or more) to "replant" it and use it for a second push-off point.  It is not permitted in girls/womens softball.

In their rulebooks, the USSSA, ASA, etc. offer essentially the same definitions for "crow hopping":

          ASA - "A crow hop is defined as the act of a pitcher who steps, hops, or drags off the
          Front of the pitcher's plate, replants the pivot foot, establishing a second impetus
          (or starting point), pushes off from the newly-established starting point and
          and completes the delivery."
          And the ASA rulebook also states:
          "Pushing off with the pivot foot from a place other than the pitcher's plate is illegal."

          USSSA -  "A crow hop is the replanting of the pivot foot prior to delivery of the pitch." 
          Additionally, under USSSA Pitching Rules:
         "Pushing off with the pivot foot from a place other than the pitcher's plate is illegal. 
          NOTE 1: It is not a step if the pitcher slides (her) foot in any direction on the pitcher's plate,
          provided contact is maintained.
          NOTE 2: Techniques such as the "crow hop" and "the leap" are illegal."



2)   LEAPING can be caused by a failure to "drag" the pivot/push-off foot.  Leaping, in fast pitch softball, is the act of having both feet off the ground at the same time (as shown in the photo on the right). 



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Therefore, the pivot/push-off foot usually is dragged along the ground until the stride foot lands (leap-with-drag pitchers) ,  or remains in contact with the pitching rubber (for some stepping-style pitchers).



Again, here are the more official definitions:

          ASA -
"LEAPING. (Fast Pitch only) An act by the pitcher which causes the pitcher to be airborne
on the initial move and move from the pitcher's plate.

"Additionally, under the ASA Rulebook Pitching Regulations for Fast Pitch Softball:
"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."
"A LEAP is when both feet are airborne."

Further, the USSSA's Pitching rules state:
"The pivot foot may remain in contact with or may push off and drag away from, the pitching plate prior to the front foot touching the ground, as long as the pivot foot remains in contact with the ground."

3) SIDE STEPPING is permissible, but as long as the stride foot lands within the "pitching lane".  Some pitchers, particularly those who are stepping-style pitchers, are often taught to not step directly forward toward home plate, but instead to step to the side to gain an advantage with the "closing" (or twisting of the trunk) process.  Stepping to the side must be restricted to the width of the pitching plate.  Here is the ASA rule:

          ASA - "In the act of delivering the ball, the pitcher must take one step with the non-pivot foot
          simultaneous with the release of the ball.  The step must be forward and toward the
          batter within the 24 inch length of the pitcher's plate."


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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