How to Correctly Throw a Softball
Note: This drill is best performed at short distances. It's intended to focus on accuracy and mechanics, not power and distance. Pause at each step to check on the player's motion and ensure their body is properly placed. This manual repetition will create muscle memory, allowing the player to eventually speed up until the proper mechanics are second nature.
Step 1: Cradle1 of 6
Start with your lead shoulder pointed at the target, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. This part is extremely important, as many children want to start with their chest facing the target. Have them master the entire throwing motion before allowing them to proceed to this more advanced style.
Cradle the ball in your throwing hand inside your glove, with two to three fingers across the wide part of the seams. The number of fingers will depend on hand size.
Note: Children should consider starting off with a smaller ball more proportionate to their hand size.
Step 2: Texas T2 of 6
Full disclosure: The author of this piece went to the University of Texas, hence the "Texas T." "Scarecrow" would also work if you're not a Longhorn fan.
From the cradle position, swing both arms out to a slightly bent, downward facing position. Your arms should be hinged at the elbow.
Step 3: Arnold Schwarzenegger3 of 6
Bring your arms up to shoulder height, with the back (throwing) arm cocked at a 90-degree angle, as if flexing your muscles. Look back at your throwing hand—which way is the ball facing? It should always be facing out, not in toward the body. This common mistake can lead to inconsistent throws.
The front arm and shoulder should be pointed directly at your target. Again, this is extremely important—misalign the front shoulder and you'll lose accuracy. Point the glove right at the target.
Your weight should be primarily on your back foot at this juncture, with your knees still slightly bent.
Note: If you're explaining this to a kid, you may want to use a more current pop culture reference. Try the Hulk.
Step 4: Waitress4 of 6
Begin to bring the throwing hand forward, keeping the arm cocked at the same 90-degree angle. Freeze as your hand nears your head and ear area. The hand holding the ball should be bent and facing slightly upward, as if you're delivering a tray of food to a waiting customer.
Meanwhile, your front arm should still be pointed at the target. Watch for a wildly swinging front arm here, as it's easy to forget about the non-dominant arm in the midst of the throwing motion.
This is also the step where your weight begins to shift from back to front. If you shift any earlier, you can probably guess what will happen next—another errant throw, likely in the general direction of the ground. Your weight should be evenly distributed as you pass through this step.
Step 5: Talk to the Hand5 of 6
Now it's time to snap it off and make it sing. From the waitress position, bring your arm forward at your target, snapping your wrist down as you release the ball.
Make sure your throwing arm follows all the way through toward the ground after you release the ball. Your back leg should naturally end up square with your front leg, with all of your weight now transferred forward. This follow-through is vital for power and distance—practice it now to start good habits early.
Your eyes should always be focused on your target throughout this motion (with the rare exception of checking your form). Losing eye contact will often lead to—you guessed it—an errant throw.
Meticulously perform these steps over and over again, calling out each one as you go. This is a great drill to warm up with every day and will reinforce proper mechanics for a lifetime of accurate throwing.