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The Drop Ball Part 1 - The "Peel" Drop

by Gerald Warner
Softball Pitching Instructor
PitchSoftball.com

Every serious softball pitcher needs to develop an effective drop ball. Like the change-up, a good drop can be an effective "controlling" pitch... it keeps the batter worried, always trying to guess what the pitcher is going to throw next. More important, it is effective at creating swing-and-miss strikes... if the ball drops several inches as it approaches the plate, the batter generally swings above the ball. At the least, a good drop causes the batter to hit only the top portion of the ball, resulting in an infield ground ball.

The drop ball is generally the third pitch we have pitchers develop. After basic pitching mechanics are being done correctly, we work on (1) increasing the speed and control of the fastball. (2) The second pitch that we work on with most pitchers is a change-up... either a stiff wrist, a circle change, or a back-hand flip change-up. Then, after mechanics are mastered, and after speed and control of the fast ball are both looking good, and after the change-up is consistently coming in at 65 to 75% of the speed of the fast ball, and after the change-up is really deceiving batters, THEN we work on developing a drop ball.

TO THROW A DROP BALL, THE OBJECTIVE IS TO GIVE IT MAXIMUM SPIN

There are two basic ways to throw a drop...the peel (discussed below) and the "rollover" or "snapover" (sometimes also called "over-the-top") which is discussed in The Drop Ball - Part II.

1. The "Peel" (or "Lift-up") Drop Ball

The "peel" drop is usually the first type of drop ball we teach...particularly to pre-teenagers. Although it often doesn't break downward as drastically as the "rollover" drop, it has some definite advantages... especially for newer pitchers. (a) it is usually easier and faster to learn, (b) with practice it can be thrown at near fast ball speed, and (c) even when thrown wrong, it has a minimal risk of causing an injury.

To Throw a Good peel drop:

  1. Grip the ball on your fingertips the same way you do with your 4-seam fastball... with pads of the fingers on the stitches on the side of hte "U" (horseshoe)
    Take a shorter stide... 6 inches to 14 inches shorter than with your full speed fastball.
  2. Land with your weight on your stride leg (glove side leg)
  3. Stay tall at the release of the ball... keep your weight forward, but do not bend at the waist.
  4. At the release point
    -Relax your shoulders
    -Keep your elbow close to the body, with the inside of your wrist pointing toward the catcher
  5. Then: Precisely at the release of the ball, quickly pull backwards (and slightly up) with your fingertips to create a fast forward spin on the ball as it leaves your hand. This "peeling" (or "pulling" the rug out from under?) the ball is similar to the magician's trick of pulling the tablecloth out from under plates and glasses.

Since this backward snap of your fingers needs to be precisely at the release of the ball, we often have a pitcher learn the peel drop at a slower speed. Then as she consistently does the peel/lift precisely at the release point, she can begin to build up the speed of the pitch... eventually to 93% to 97% of hte speed of the fastball. Some pitchers successfully develop both an off-speed and a full-speed peel drop.

Gerald Warner is a long time pitching instructor in Denver, Colorado and the father of former College Pitcher, Sara Warner.


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