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.