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  The Best Pitch Location...High or Low?
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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor


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We did an extensive 3-year study on the basic subject of pitch placement and
which locations resulted in the most hits, and which resulted in 3rd strikes.



This is a subject where each of us feels we are THE expert…coaches, parents, and pitchers…all of us have our opinions of where to throw certain pitches – low and inside, up and away, on the batter’s hands, a “chase” pitch low and outside, etc.   Typically, the pitch and location are called by the catcher or dugout coach based on the batter and the situation.  But after studying thousands of during-the-game pitches (*) thrown by travel ball, college, and high school pitchers, we now have some statistics to support what many coaches and pitchers have always emphasized.

Read the notes at the bottom of this page to see how and where we observed pitch locations.  We looked at pitches on whether they were above or below the top of the thigh…essentially at the point where the leg meets the body.  It certainly was not scientifically nor statistically perfect, and was often based on an opinion of where the ball crossed the plate, but it does give an accurate representation of what happened.   Here is a summary of the results:


78% of all hits were from pitches above the batter’s thigh
22% of all hits were from pitches below the top of the thigh

39% of 3rd strikes were from high pitches (chest to top of the thigh)
61% of 3rd strikes were from low pitches (knees to top of the thigh)


Many of the upper-half hits were either from rise balls that didn’t rise (flattened out), or from fastballs that went above their mark.    However, with some of the younger travel ball teams and high school games, we actually observed coach/dugout calls for waist-to-chest-high fastballs…that, needless to say, resulted in some BIG hits.  The majority of the lower-half strikeouts were from down-and-in fastballs, good drop balls, and outside curves.

We recommend never throwing high fastballs especially over the outside half of the plate (zones 4, 5, 7, and 8).  Instead, use the inside corners, and the low-outside corner.   Our advice for most situations is to keep the fastball low, and use only the screw ball or rise ball for upper-half pitches.  We also like to see pitchers occasionally use a down-and-in rise or screw.   A screw ball thrown to an opposite-handed batter can also be thrown low-and-away …making it a good “chase” pitch.  For most drop ball, change-up, and curve ball situations, the best location is low and away.


           Pitch placement was determined by recording at what level the ball crossed the plate or was hit…in the strike zone below the top of the batter’s thigh, or above the top of the thigh.   Our observation point was always at a sideline location down the 1st or 3rd baseline, and therefore either facing or behind the batter.  
            All data was collected from 14U-A to 18U-Gold travel ball games, Division I college games, and a handful of high school games. 
            Among the tournaments where pitch placement was recorded were the Colorado Fireworks Tournaments (over 200 14U-18U travel ball teams participate each year), the Boulder Independence Day Tournament, the NCAA College World Series in Oklahoma City, and the former Kia Classic and Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, California.


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If you have questions or need more information
E-mail us,
  or call Pitching Instructor Gerald Warner in Colorado at (720) 200-4575


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