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
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
PITCHING is getting the batter to swing on
the wrong plane, and messing
up her timing".
TEENAGE PITCHERS throw their change-up too fast!
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
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
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
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
SEE DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS for throwing any of
the basic CHANGE-UP styles in the article found elsewhere on this
website titled The Best
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If you have questions or
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E-mail us, or
call Pitching Instructor Gerald Warner in Colorado at
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