For softball pitchers, riseballs and drop balls can be useful pitches in besting opposing batters. In order to have these pitches break significantly, you need to put in your time in the circle.
A helpful softball pitching drill to concentrate on these breaking pitches is the rise and drop string drill. This exercise can allow you to visualize how much your pitch either rises or falls as it crosses the plate. Former professional softball player Jessica Vogel offers her tips for setting up and executing this fun fastpitch pitching drill.
STRING DRILL SETUP
The string drill takes some pre-practice setup to create the visual aids. It’s best to perform this drill in a bullpen where you can securely tie off both string ends. Tying off both ends to two hitting tees or other structures can also be effective.
According to Vogel, your string should be set up roughly five feet in front of the plate. “The string represents a point at which you want your ball to break,” she says. “You’ll want the string to be about chest high for riseballs and about knee high for drop balls.”
STRING DRILL EXECUTION
The string drill, essentially, is a normal pitching session. What’s altered is the visual marker in the string. The objective is to have your pitch break on one side of the string and finish on the other as your catcher receives the pitch.
“For the riseball, our goal is to have the pitch break under the string and finish in the catcher’s glove above the string,” Vogel says. “For the drop ball, it would be the opposite. Our goal is to get our pitch to break above the string and finish in the catcher’s glove below the string.”
Repetition is key in this fastpitch pitching drill. Vogel notes a fun and competitive way to challenge yourself is by tracking your pitches. Throw 10 riseballs or 10 drop balls and count how many clearly break above or below the line. Try and improve your score with each succeeding round.
Learning the details of your breaking pitches can help you improve your performance on the mound. With this illustrative drill, you can tie up any loose ends in your pitching game.
Want more work inside the circle? Give the cone over plate drill a try to visualize where your curveballs and screwballs cross the dish.