Is Throwing A Changeup In Softball Hard Or Not?

When someone first starts playing the game of softball, they are focused on mastering the basic aspects of the game.  For pitchers, that usually means practicing day after day to throw hard, fast strikes straight down the center of the plate.  But once you manage to master that skill, you want to start adding strategy to your technique.  A changeup is one way to bring strategy to the pitching mound.

What is a changeup?

A changeup is used in fast pitch softball.  It is when the pitcher, after throwing hard and fast as normal, decides to throw one pitch that is more of a lob.  The slow speed of this pitch compared with the speed of the other pitchers throws the batter off.  They will often swing at a changeup even if the changeup isn’t remotely a strike.

When should you use a changeup?

Changeups are most often used when the strike count is in the pitcher’s favor, especially when the batter already has two strikes on them.  In this situation, the batter is feeling desperate and is ready to swing at just about anything.  A changeup is great for this, because as it’s coming in it looks nice, but the batter will swing too early because they are used to the higher speed of the other pitches.

When should you not use a changeup?

Changeups are usually (though not always) balls. Putting the changeup a little too high helps to encourage the batter to swing.  However, this means that if they do not swing that you have cost yourself a ball.  Therefore this is not a good technique to use when the strike count is against you, especially not in a situation where you already have three balls.

What are the dangers of a changeup?

When throwing a changeup, it’s always a possibility that the batter will be able to wait for it and get an important hit.  It’s good to know your batters.  Ask a coach to signal you when the first and fourth batters are up.  These are not necessarily the best two hitters on the team, but often the first batter is very good at getting on base, and the fourth is good at smacking the ball.  You may want to avoid throwing a changeup to these two hitters.

What’s the best way to throw a changeup?

The best way to throw a changeup is when the batter has no idea what is about to come.  Therefore you should try to make the windmill action of your arm go as close to normal speed as possible for as long as possible, even though you will need to slow down to achieve your desired pitch speed.  The signal for a changeup between coach and pitcher should be something subtle, so as not to tip off the batter.

A changeup is a very useful fast pitch softball strategy.  By keeping in mind who you are throwing to and using the strike count to your advantage, you will be able to add the changeup to your pitching repertoire.

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Kevin Eaton
 

Keavin Eaton lives with his wife and two boys in New Orleans, LA. He has a bachelor’s degree in Phys Ed from the University of New Orleans and a Master’s degree in Kinesiology from the Louisiana State University. As an athlete, Kevin competed in many sports including wrestling, rowing, speed skating and bobsleigh before finding skeleton. Opinions expressed by Kevin on Play Famously are his own.

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