Softball throwing mechanics mirror those of high-level baseball players. But a few key aspects–including how quickly a player has to get rid of the ball–has created confusion in what some coaches teach. Players often break their hands much too early, which negatively impacts the rest of the throwing motion. Learn how to fix it in this article.
Good Throwing Mechanics Start With The Hands
When should the hands separate when fielding a ground ball or fly ball? When should a player begin moving her arm into the “cocked” position where her throwing elbow is at 90 degrees?
In short, the answer is simple: only as fast as she strides. Let me explain:
The Hands Must Stay in Sync with the Legs.
It’s true that because of the small dimensions and very fast players, all position players need to get rid of the ball as quickly as they can; there is no time to waste.
But, this doesn’t mean softball players need to separate their hands and move them into throwing position as fast as possible. The body needs to stay in a rhythm, because the legs create power, the hips amplify and transfer it through the core, then the shoulder, elbow and finally to the ball.
The “kinetic chain” is the term used for the whip-like action of the body producing force from one part to the next. Every body part has to produce force in sync with the one before and after it.
So, if the hands break too fast, we lose this rhythm because the arm will get to a state of I’m ready to throw before the rest of the body.
Hitters don’t stop their load in their swing. Golfer’s don’t stop their swing at the top then start again. Throwers shouldn’t have any body parts that stop, either. Yet, when the hands separate too quickly (get rid of it!) the get to the top too soon and basically stop.
Throwing velocity and accuracy decrease as a result. The body needs to move in syncrony, with every body part amplifying power for the next.
The Handbreak Timing Flaw in Softball Players
Watch the video below – it’s short and to the point and explains all of this. The fix is simple: work on keeping the hands together longer–until the rear foot lands or is very close to landing. Every player is different so there isn’t one exactly correct time to separate the hands, but very close to rear foot strike is as good a general recommendation as I can find.
Try it and let me know what you think – it may feel awkward at first, but I’ve worked with many players who have gained 1-4mph just from fixing this flaw.
Want to Throw Harder?
If you’re interested in throwing harder from the field (I specialized in teaching softball players how to throw harder overhand) download my free eBook.
I also offer an extensive online course on throwing that will help any player gain miles per hour and accuracy on her throws. It’s called She’s Got a Cannon and it’s an amazing step-by-step resource for players, parents and coaches.
Good luck this season! – Dan