Drill for developing the backhand change release

One of the most important pitches for a fastpitch pitcher to develop is a good changeup. While everyone is always impressed with speed, the ability to change speeds without visibly changing the delivery is key to keeping hitters off balance and getting them out.

Now, there are all kinds of ways to throw a changeup. My favorite, though is the backhand change. Some call it the “flip” change, but I don’t because I don’t want the pitcher to flip her wrist at the end. Instead, I prefer that she drags the ball through the release zone and just flings it forward at release.

Not long ago I had a pitcher (Larissa) who was having trouble feeling the drag and fling. She was stiffening up and flipping the ball, and as a result it was going too fast and too high.

As I often do, I stood across from her and started to explain the release in a mirror image. But I forgot to use my left hand, and demonstrated with the right hand instead. That’s when the light bulb came on over my head, and I had her try what I had just done. It worked like a charm. Here’s a video of Larissa demonstrating the drill:



The reason I think it works is that it takes the pitcher out of the normal context of pitching, and allows her to focus strictly on the release. Whatever the reason, though, I’ve tried it with several pitchers and it has worked for all of them.

If you’re using this type of change and have a pitcher who’s having trouble feeling it, give this a try. If you have a pitcher who’s struggling with the flip change, give it a try as well. You might like the results.

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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 October 20, 2011, in Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ken, I agree with yourcomment “one of the most important pitches for a fastpitch pitcher to develop is a good changeup”, in-fact; I would go far enough to say it is a necessity! Most high-level collegiate (probably all, just do not have enough data to substantiate that claim) pitchers have an effective change-up that keep batters off-balance or guessing. Over the years I too have had some difficulty with pitchers throwing the backhand change too fast and high and will definitely use your “mirror image” muscle memory technique! Thanks for the tip. James Inzana, Virginia Wesleyan College Pitching Coach

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  2. James, totally agree. I always tell my students that they need to have a change for the good hitters, not the weak ones. The good hitters will pick up on poor mechanics or “tells,” so they have to make sure they don’t slow down or do anything to tip the pitch. Glad you found the drill interesting. Let me know if it works for your pitchers, and helps them get the feel of the release better.

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