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   She's 11-years old - Throwing a Rise Ball?
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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor

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It’s a great dream…a young pitcher throwing the infamous rise ball.  Pitchers and their parents like to brag about how many pitches they throw…even though all of them often look alike with no movement at all.  A true rise ball is not merely a pitch that is released low and thrown to a chin-high spot.  We discuss the correct spin direction, the very fast spin speed, and fast pitch speed required for a “legitimate” rise ball.  In 20 years of training scores of pitchers of all ages and observing thousands more we are yet to see a pre-teen pitcher with a true “moving” rise ball.  Many young pitchers have been misled…and some even hurt…by consistently trying to throw a riser before they are capable of doing it.  It doesn’t work for a young pitcher…and here is why:


Many people who give pitching lessons try to teach a rise ball release to young pitchers without disclosing the very small potential of success (and the real risk of injury when practicing the hard wrist snap) .  By attempting to teach the rise ball to a young girl, it (1)  gives false hope to the pitcher, (2) has her  and her parents “thinking” that she can throw a rise ball, but (3) keeps the pitcher going back to the instructor for more lessons.  


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Consequently, a sizeable percentage of pitchers, even older experienced ones, do not even know the direction that a rise
(or even a drop ball, curve, or screw ball) needs to spin in order to cut into the air to make the ball go in a specific direction.  And a rise ball, in order to really move, needs to be spinning bottom-to-top at almost twice the speed of a drop ball.  And even with good spin, for a rise ball to work right it needs to be thrown at a speed at least in the mid-50’s…and preferably 60+ mph.  Former Olympian and ESPN softball announcer Michele Smith feels that the best speed for a good rise ball is between 61 and 65 mph.

Classic form for a good rise ball release


We have seen many team coaches of 10U, 12U, and even some 14U teams, thinking that a pitcher has a rise ball simply because she throws high pitches, calls for the rise pitch to be thrown during games.  And then, when the pitch simply comes in as a high flat fast ball, blames the pitcher every time an opposing batter connects with it.  Good rise ball pitchers often place their rise ball at mid-thigh on the batter…provided it has good rise ball spin, spin speed, pitch speed, and movement.


Most responsible pitching instructors will wait until a pitcher is ready…in terms of ability, pitch speed, and commitment… before having her to start working on a rise ball.  For some, that might be at 14 or 15-years old…others much later.


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E-mail us,  or call Pitching Instructor Gerald Warner in Colorado at (720) 200-4575



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