A common throwing problem — dipping the front shoulder

Maybe I’m just more acutely aware of it now because I’ve been working with a couple of players on this problem. But more and more I’m seeing an oddity in the throwing motion of some female softball players: they dip their front shoulders to initiate the throw.

They start out ok, i.e. they turn their bodies and take the ball back properly. But when it’s time to start moving forward, their first movement is to lower the glove-side shoulder instead of leaving it in place and driving the throwing shoulder through. When that happens, they tend to look like they’re throwing a hand grenade in a WWII movie instead of a softball. The back shoulder gets stuck right about the time they get to square, and the throw is mostly arm.

They may get the ball there, but it’s not very efficient. And it won’t be as hard as they can throw. If you see this, you need to get the player to keep her glove side shoulder to stay in place, then drive the throwing side shoulder through. I refer to it as replacing the front shoulder with the back one. When they’re finished, the throwing shoulder should be lower than the glove side. At minimum, they should be the same height.

Don’t be fooled by looking at videos of MLB pitchers, either. They are throwing off a high mound, and what looks like the front shoulder dropping down is really the whole body going down because of the hill. If they were on flat ground the glove shoulder would remain in place. That’s the way field players throw.

If your player can’t get the hang of leaving the shoulder up, trying having her raise her glove straight up over her head, and leave it there while she throws. You will see an immediate improvement. Then slowly have her lower it until she can make the proper movement with a full throwing motion.

It takes some time and practice to overcome this habit. But in the end it’s worth it.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on September 30, 2008, in Throwing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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