The velocity of a pitch in softball is equal to the effort used by the pitcher multiplied by the distance the ball travels before release. This explains why softball pitchers employ a windmill-style windup. The ball travels a larger distance when moved in a circle than if the pitcher pushed the ball straight back and then straight ahead. By rotating his or her arm, the pitcher can increase the amount of force applied to the ball and thus increase the speed and distance it travels.
In addition to being easier to do than a traditional windup, the windmill pitch works better because it keeps the elbow high while also allowing for natural movement of the shoulder. Pitching with an extended arm position can lead to elbow problems down the road. Using a windmill pitch also allows the pitcher to keep his or her hand closer to their body which reduces stress on the arm and increases the chance of hitting the target area of the plate.
Pitchers who use a windmill style windup are called "windmillers".
This article comes from our series of articles on sports injuries. Read other articles in this series:
The Science of Pitching Pitching in softball is an underarm motion that involves making one full rotation of the arm, known as the "windmill," and releasing the ball with a snap of the wrist at the hip. This action throws the ball at speeds up to 100 miles per hour.
Physically, pitching is a hard job. Pitchers need strong arms, strong legs, and strong backs to repeat this movement over and over again for hours at a time. In addition, they need good eyes to see the ball coming toward them and make sure it isn't hit by any players. Finally, they need self-confidence to keep going back to the plate after they give up a run or two early in a game because they know they can still win it.
Softball is played on a diamond-shaped field 91 feet down each line and 180 feet across the middle. There are six players on the field at all times: three batters and three fielders. Each batter gets three opportunities to hit the ball, which lasts until someone hits it or it is caught by a fielder. The order of batting then changes and the process starts over again. A team wins when it reaches a specified number of outs before its opponents do.
There are several different types of pitches in softball.
The softball pitch is a very basic motion that consists of a step forward from the mound onto the non-pitching arm side foot, a weight shift onto this foot, and a turn of the shoulders and trunk to face the batter. The hand moves through a complete circle as it releases the ball.
This is basically the same movement used by pitchers in baseball and softball. Pitches are classified according to how the body turns while throwing the ball (directional changes). There are three types of pitches: fastball, curveball, and changeup.
Fastballs are thrown with great force and can reach speeds up to 100 miles per hour. This type of pitch comes from the shoulder rather than the wrist and has more upward than downward movement at the release point. It's used mainly to strike out batters because it goes where they aren't expected.
Curves are thrown with less force than fastballs and can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour. They are used to induce ground balls because they have more downward movement at the release point than fastballs. Curves are useful against left-handed hitters because it gets on base more often than a right-handed hitter.
Changeups are thrown with great accuracy and can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour. They are used to deceive batters by looking like a fastball but then breaking away from them.