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Your Pitcher MUST Have a Good Change-Up

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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor
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Even though many softball pitchers think they can, very few are able to overpower all batters with their fastball.  In time (sometimes as soon as the second time through the line-up) some of the opposing team's better hitters will be able to time a fastball-only pitcher and start getting their bat on the ball.




A good change-up offers a change-of-speed alternative, but more importantly, it gives a pitcher an exceptional psychological tool to keep batters constantly guessing…and intimidated.


"Good HITTING is a combination of swinging
on the right plane, with good bat speed, and
with correct timing".

"Good PITCHING is getting the batter to swing on the wrong plane, and messing up her timing".



MOST TEENAGE PITCHERS throw their change-up too fast!
A good deceptive change, with a decent fastball, can increase a pitcher’s effectiveness by more than 50%.  When thrown with good deception  the change-up, thrown at 65% to 75% of the speed of the fastball, offers a tremendous element of control over the batter.  
With a change-up, the pitcher puts the batter on the defensive: "What is she going to throw to me this time?".  Now it is the pitcher who is in charge.

Unfortunately, some pitchers or new, inexperienced coaches can quickly lose confidence when a change-up misses its mark, or gets tagged for a double.  Something in the pitcher's head says, "The batter just hit the change-up," which somehow gets interpreted as "THEY are hitting the change-up all the time." 

Sometimes former rec league coaches, previously faced with pitchers' control and speed issues, don't fully relate to the importance and need for a change of speed and change of location of pitches.  Don't fall into the trap yourself.  Nothing is more disheartening or damaging to a pitcher with a decent change-up than to hear her coach say, "Don't throw any more change ups…just throw fastballs".

To restate the highlighted statement two paragraphs above:  Eliminating a good deceptive change-up, and allowing the pitcher to use only her fastball, can decrease her pitching effectiveness by more than 50%.

Typically, we encourage pitching students to start working on a change-up after they have developed good pitching mechanics, and can throw with relatively decent accuracy and good speed.  Depending on the learning ability this is usually 4 to 8 months after starting.  We have seen even 10-year olds have 15 or more strikeouts in a game after adding a deceptive change-up.

The third pitch taught is usually a drop ball, but when first starting we have it thrown at a speed halfway between the speed of the fastball and the change…or 80% to 90% of full speed.  By starting work on the drop ball at this slower speed, it increases the likelihood of getting the spin started precisely at the release point.  As timing improves, so does the speed of the drop.

Since we like to work in opposites (fast then slow), the opposite of a pitch that drops is one that rises, so we often start work on the rise ball as the next pitch.  As an alternative, especially for those who have a problem with the rise, we go to a screw ball (inward curve) along with a curve ball…again, opposites.


SEE DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS for throwing any of the basic CHANGE-UP styles in the article found elsewhere on this website titled The Best Change-Up


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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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