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  A Potentially Dangerous Drop/Fastball Release

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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor


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We receive many e-mails and telephone calls about pitching mechanics that can cause injuries to pitchers… often learned from watching another pitcher, or even being taught by a well-meaning coach or pitching instructor.   Below is an e-mail that we received from another pitching coach who, like many, are concerned that a large number of pitchers are being taught to throw a “dropping fastball” by using a twist, snapover release somewhat similar to the rollover drop ball.


FROM D.W.  -

   We have some pitching instructors here in Texas who teach the rollover release on the fast ball, and use a snap release as well as the over the top twist.   Stopping the arm immediately after the twist release.   These are all men coaches, or women who were taught by them.  I and other men have used the “over-the-top” release to get a little bit of a downward break on the pitch.   But these people are teaching it to average-sized girls and they are causing a great many of them to get hurt.   My guess is that at least a third of their students, and maybe more, end up with arm injuries to the tricep or elbow.   And sometimes it has totally ended a pitcher’s career.

   Don’t these people know the damage they are doing?   This idea of “I don’t teach pitchers how to throw a fastball, I teach them how to throw a fastball that drops or curves” is a bunch of crap.  As I saw on your website and agree with the way you stated it, just because it works for a man pitcher doesn’t mean that it is right for a girl pitcher.   And this is a horrible example of the damage it can cause.


 I would like to know your opinion.






We have the same situation here in Colorado, and I am constantly hearing from other pitching coaches, college coaches, parents, etc. of this problem in their states.


We got into some informal discussions of injury-causing instruction when I was with two dozen other pitching instructors, college pitching coaches, and high school and college team coaches at a recent coaches’ clinic.   All but one of those in the group said they had knowledge of girls who had been injured teaching this style of release, and/or would not teach it themselves.


Incidentally, my best estimate is about the same as yours…perhaps 30%  or more the girls who try to use the over-the-top "drop" release on the fastball suffer either temporary or long term injuries…usually to the elbow because of the twist and the short follow-through.   Plus, contrary to what some pitchers are being told, it does NOT increase fastball speed…because of the loss of forward wrist snap, it can actually slow it down.

As you might guess, I would like to see state certification of all athletics-related instructors…not just softball, but in other sports where kids might be getting dangerous advice.   It could involve knowledge of the biomechanics of each sport, and input by Doctors, sports medicine professionals, occupational and physical therapists, etc. However, it would be a huge undertaking, and I would doubt that most states have the capability of putting it into place.

This is a major concern.  You, I, and most others work hard to help pitchers go to the top of the heap, without them getting hurt by practicing wrong mechanics.   I am afraid that some pitching coaches are in it for the bragging rights and the almighty buck...and don't always know that what they are teaching might be causing injuries to their students.


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