T Nation

Freaky Pitches, Baby!

Help my TOTAL ignorance here, guys…

I was watching the NCAA Women’s World Series today…pretty Kewl…but could somebody PLEASE explain to me that freaky wind-up pitch? My rotator cuff was hurtin’ just WATCHING it!(Ouch!)

Is it the nature of the softball vs. a hardball? Men’s anatomy vs. women’s? (i.e. where the most power can be generated)? Just the way the sport, and it’s pitching, evolved?

Enquiring minds wanna know!

(P.S.That Jenny Finch for Arizona is a “looker” IMHO…had to get that in!)

Underhand fastpitch softball uses a more natural throwing motion than baseball. It has nothing to do with men vs. woman anatomy. Because of the natural underhand motion, very little strain is put on the rotator cuff and elbow. That is why softball pitchers can pitch everyday. The only real limiting factor is the legs. In baseball, only 1-2% of all the energy created in the overhand throwing motion is converted to the ball. The rest goes to the elbow and shoulder, hence all the injuries. The underhand motion also allows the pitchers to make the ball move in ways that only an overhand pitcher could dream of (such as the rise ball). It’s not just women that make great fastpitch softball pitchers. There is a traveling mens team called The King and his Court. They take on entire teams and play with 4-5 people. The pitcher is in his 70’s and pitches from second base. If you ever get the chance to see this guy pitch, it is highly recommended.

And yes, Jenny Finch is definetly hot. :slight_smile:

FYI, unless you are a 12 year old girl, you are forbidden by law in 37 states to type the word “Kewl”.

doog! LOL!!! :)-

I had to laugh when I began to see kids walking around writing “Kewl” and using the term “Dog” and “Wassup”, etc…I had been using the same phrases since the 80’s!

As the saying goes…there’s nothin new under the Sun, baby!


One of the things that I love about this site is that I NEVER stop learning…and learning is what it’s all about…

The information you provided is fascinating to me. As someone from “the outside looking in”, those pitches just “looked” more stressful and painful…

Any idea how the more “inefficient” overhand pitching became the mainstay of professional baseball?

There are most likely two main reasons why baseball pitchers throw overhand vs. underhand. The first is that they can throw the ball with more velocity overhand. Fastpitch softball pitchers throw from a distance around 45 ft. (estimate) vs. baseball pitchers who throw from 60 ft. 6 inches. The best fastpitch softball pitchers can throw in the mid 70’s mph, but the distance makes it seem like 90 mph compared to that of baseball pitchers throwing 90 mph at 60’6". The second is the size of the ball. A softball has much greater surface area then a baseball. When the pitch is thrown a certain way and the air resistance hits the seams of the ball, a softball will move more than a baseball. Give a softball pitcher a baseball and tell them to throw a riseball or curveball underhand, and they would not be nearly as effective. Since the baseball pitchers can’t make a baseball move underhand, they throw overhand. Throwing overhand makes up for the smaller surface area of the baseball because it creates a downward angle, which makes the ball appear to move more to the batter. The mound height of 18" amplifies this. Combine the angle of the ball coming in at the batter and the increased velocity and the increased velocity of throwing overhand, and this makes up for the lost surface area. If you ever wonder why softball is played on dirt infields, it is also related to the surface area of the ball. A groundball in softball would never get out of the infield because the grass would slow the ball down too much because of it’s surface area.