Softball and pitch speed go hand in hand. A fastball, curveball, screwball or drop ball – each has a different velocity. How fast the pitch is affects the difficulty of the hit. Let’s explore the average softball pitch speed and how it impacts a pitcher’s performance.
What is the average softball pitch speed?
Softball pitching speed varies, depending on the age of the player, what kind of pitch is thrown, and changes due to wind or weather. Generally, most softball pitches move between 40 and 60 mph. The average pitch speed for a 12U softball game is 43 to 52 mph.
Divided by age brackets, here are the average pitch speeds for recreational softball:
- Youth (8-under): 37-45 mph
- 10U: 42-46 mph
- 12U: 43-52 mph
- 14U: 47-55 mph
- Slowpitch: 35+ mph
- Fastpitch: 45+ mph
Style also affects pitch speed for fastpitch and slowpitch. Fastpitches focus more on technique and skills, such as grip, stride, hand position at release; this makes them faster than slow pitches overall. For fast pitch softball, there are six primary pitches that range from 55 to 70+ mph; rise ball (60–70), drop ball (55–65), curve ball (45–60), knuckleball (40–50), screw ball (50–60), spear/fork/tork (58–68). Remember, field and wind conditions influence pitching speed and form within certain ranges.
What is the fastest softball pitch ever recorded?
Haley Fagan, playing for Team USA in 2017, recorded the fastest softball pitch speed ever: an incredible 77 mph! This remarkable feat was enshrined in the Amateur Softball Association’s Hall of Fame.
Fastpitch softball is a fast-paced sport that needs pitchers to throw hard and consistently. Most pitchers average throwing speeds between 50-70 mph.
Beginner pitchers tend to throw in the mid-50s mph range. Elite players, especially when warmed up later in games or tournaments, can reach speeds of up to 65 mph or higher.
Speed is not everything. A pitcher with control over their location and ability to change speeds and work off their fastball will have more success than one who only throws hard straight balls. Nonetheless, honing both speed and control is essential for those who want to break records and impress college recruiters!
Softball Pitch Types
Softball has various pitch styles, each with their own pros and cons. The most typical is the fastball. Average speed for a fastball is between 60 and 75 mph – pretty fast! Let’s review the other pitches and their average speeds:
- Fastball – 60 – 75 mph
- Curveball – 45 – 65 mph
- Changeup – 40 – 65 mph
- Slider – 45 – 85 mph
- Knuckleball – 40 – 60 mph
The fastball is the most common pitch in softball. It’s thrown using a handgun motion, with the palm pointing downwards. This pitch is usually thrown between 45-60 mph, based on the pitcher’s age, size, and strength. Generally, fastballs travel straight, making them hard for batters to hit accurately.
Variations of this pitch include:
- Change up (thrown slightly slower or faster than a fastball).
- Rising fastball (goes up after crossing home plate).
- Overhand fastball (has a high pitch, greater velocity).
A curveball is a common pitch in fastpitch softball. It’s similar to the 12-to-6 curveball found in baseball. The spin on the ball causes it to drop from its initial trajectory, making it harder for hitters to prepare and bat. Curveballs are usually thrown by advanced pitchers and require lots of practice.
To throw a curveball correctly, pitchers need to create spin. Start with the arm lifted up above the head. Pressure should be applied to the index and middle fingers across two of the seams of the softball. Then, deliver the pitch with a sharp twist of the wrist downwards. This creates topspin and leads to movement off the pitch’s original trajectory.
The typical speed for an 11-year-old throwing a curveball is about 45 mph. However, pitches vary depending on age, arm strength, and body weight ratios. Check with your league officials for any restrictions.
A Changeup is a type of pitch in softball. It has slow speed and movement, which can confuse the hitter. You grip the softball with crossed index and middle finger over the seam. This pitch looks like a fastball until it reaches home plate. It then fades away from the batter’s bat.
The speed of a changeup is 10-15 mph slower than a fastball. This makes it easier to recognize from a distance. Stamina and use-dependent factors will affect the speed of the pitch over time. So take it slow when using this technique.
The knuckleball is a unique pitch. It’s named after the way it’s held – with two fingers and thumb, using the knuckles. This pitch won’t spin like other throws, instead relying on knuckle surface to generate movement. It’s similar to a “wiffle ball” pitch – which is why it’s also called a “phosphate pitch“. Unpredictable shifts in direction usually occur at speeds of 20mph-40mph.
Slow speed keeps hitters off balance, making it difficult to hit. But it also makes it hard for catchers to handle accurately, leading to runs if enough get by them.
Softball Pitch Mechanics
Gain an advantage in softball by understanding the mechanics of a pitch. Analyze the body movements, ball rotation and other aspects to throw different types of pitches.
Let’s look deeper into the mechanics of a pitch and the average speed of a softball pitch:
A correct and steady grip is key for successful softball pitching. Many pitchers use a four-seam grip as it gives most spin. To get the grip, hold the softball between your index and middle fingers with your thumb below. Put your index finger behind the seams on one side of the ball. Your middle finger should be on top of the same seams. Your thumb should touch the ball on the other side. This grip helps you get good spin and speed. With practice, you could reach an average softball pitch speed of 25-30 mph (40-48 km/h).
The release is when the pitcher throws the ball. It is important to stay consistent and in control. For correct mechanics, make sure your posture is right. Knees bent, chest up, core engaged. With a loose grip on the ball, drive your elbow up. Lastly, push off the back foot and follow-through the arm.
Mastering these basics will help the pitcher find their perfect release. That will give them control over pitch speed and accuracy. Resulting in getting batters out more often.
Follow through is the last step for a successful pitch. It helps the softball to leave your hand with speed and accuracy. It doesn’t have to be complex. Keep your arm and hand going in the same direction they left.
- Start with your arm extended, elbow bent and wrist positioned.
- As you let go, rotate your forearm keeping it parallel to the ground.
- Finish with your arm in the same direction as it started. For example, 10 o’clock to 12 o’clock, finish at 1 o’clock with a wrist snap for force into the ball.
- Keep your elbow up for power and to avoid injury.
For increased speed, focus on finishing tall with shoulders back. This will reduce any pushback due to posture or fatigue. It will improve accuracy and pitch velocity, improving performance throughout the season!
Softball Pitch Training
Softball throwing is a skill that requires practice. Comprehending average pitch speed can boost your performance. Here, we look at the significance of training and how it can help you achieve desired speeds. With proper practice, you can develop this ability. Understanding mechanics of the pitch can be beneficial. It can lead to improved pitching.
Strength training is integral for developing powerful pitching. You need to increase muscle power, speed and weight ratio with plyometric and speed drills. Softball players can use weight room principles by performing explosive exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and burpees. Bands can also be used to build strength.
Include core exercises like walking and jogging to improve posture while pitching. This will lead to increased arm speed.
Cardiovascular exercise is also important, as is shoulder mobility work on non-throwing side with stretches or foam rolling. This will help avoid imbalances when throwing and improve pitching performance, especially if you’re recovering from an injury.
Plyometrics are perfect for boosting softball pitch speeds! Essentially, plyometrics involve explosive movements, like jumping and sprinting. These exercises can build strength in the legs, hips and core – leading to more speed on the pitcher’s mound.
Examples of plyometrics for softball pitchers: jump squats, broad jumps, bounding drills and agility ladder drills. The aim is to develop rapid power and coordination. Plyometrics should be done 2-3 times a week for best results.
Plyometrics not only increase speed but also balance and body control during delivery. This aids proper pitching form. Doing regular plyometric drills not only increases speed, but makes you an all-around better pitcher, increasing athleticism and reducing injury risk.
Improving your softball pitch speed takes dedication and hard work. Core training exercises are a must for any pitching routine. They strengthen muscles in the upper chest, back, abdomen, and hips. Plus, they build arm endurance and increase flexibility.
Core workouts include planks, bridges, mountain climbers, lateral leg raises, wood chops and hip raises. Do these moves 3-4 times per week, 10-15 reps each. This will help improve your power on the mound. Practicing your pitches with proper form is important for consistent pitching.
Strength training exercises for pitching speed development should be combined with dynamic stretching. Before practice and games, do dynamic stretches to warm up muscles. This improves performance and reduces injury risk. Dynamic stretches for softball pitchers include prone arm circles, windshield wipers, dynamic lunge walks with torso twist variations, and dynamic squats with side shuffles.
Softball Pitch Safety
Softball pitching safety is a top priority! It’s vital to know average speeds and the correct techniques for throwing. This article covers the average pitch speed, pitching methods, and safety protocols to abide by. All players must be aware of these to stay safe!
Proper Warm Up
Pitchers must warm up correctly before each pitching session. Dynamic stretching is a good start. This includes arm circles, torso twists, and functional exercises like walking toe touches and torso rotations.
Proper footwork is important too. Stepping side to side over a line made on the pitching surface can help build muscle memory. For more warm-up ideas, you can review online resources or talk to coaches and players.
A proper warm up is essential. Too much pitch speed can lead to injuries like elbow problems, shoulder issues, forearm tightness, and other body pains. Such injuries can damage a softball career if untreated.
Proper Cool Down
Cooling down is a must after a hard softball pitch. Especially if you’re often throwing at speeds of:
- Light: 20-50 mph
- Moderate: 50-60 mph
- Fast: 60-70 mph
- Power or elite intensity: 70+ mph
Cooling down is not a waste of practice time. It’s essential for safety and focus. If you don’t take the time to rest after a pitch, you risk fatigue and injury.
For example, if you’re throwing at power or elite levels, take at least 7 minutes of rest per pitch. Mobility stretches will keep your muscles lubricated. Ice packs can help reduce inflammation and soreness. Failing to rest can cause more serious injuries.
Before throwing a softball, it’s important to learn proper form and mechanics. A qualified coach or trainer can help.
Face the home plate with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel to the target. Start in the athletic position. Tuck both arms behind you, only bending at the shoulders. Have your fingers on top of the ball with a comfortable yet secure grip. This will help control the ball and reduce risk of injury.
Keep your eyes on the target area and bring the ball toward the center of your vision. As you near release point, use lower body motion to twist hips and push off the back foot. Uncoil all momentum as outward force and throw arm forward. Follow through with arm outstretched for maximum distance in a controlled manner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What is the average softball pitch speed?
A1: The average softball pitch speed is between 45-60 mph.
Q2: How is softball pitching different from baseball pitching?
A2: Softball pitching requires the ball to be thrown underhand, whereas baseball pitching requires an overhand throw. Additionally, softball pitching is typically slower than baseball pitching due to the difference in size between the two balls.
Q3: What is the best way to practice softball pitching?
A3: The best way to practice softball pitching is to work on proper technique and form. Additionally, it is important to practice regularly, gradually increasing the speed and distance of the pitch.