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NFCA Drill: Pitching

By Cheryl Denny, Assistant Coach

James Madison University

Name of Drill: "The Denny Deceiver" (Curve Spin Drill).

Equipment Needed: Spinner, football, frisbee.

Explanation of Drill: I like to have fun with our pitchers in our individual sessions while working on fundamentals. In our sessions, a softball is not always used. I utilize the ever-popular 'spinner,' a football and a frisbee. I like using the frisbee to develop the palm-up curve ball. My favorite pitch in college was the curve ball and I had much success with it. The way I developed the proper spin for the curve was by practicing throwing a frisbee. This drill can be used for right-handers and those unique southpaws. When gripping the frisbee, you should start with your arm out in front with the palm up. You want to place the frisbee so that only the thumb is touching the under part of the rim. The fingers should then close on top of the frisbee, above the thumb. You should only be holding the frisbee by the fingers and thumb; the frisbee should not be resting on the hand at all. The objective of this drill is to throw the frisbee under-handed as well as you would with the normal frisbee throwing motion (with a good level spin to your partner or target).

To start off the drill, I have my pitchers in an open stance with the pitching arm and glove arm at 90-degree angles. The palm should already be facing up. The pitcher should then throw the frisbee under-handed, being sure to keep her arm slightly bent at the elbow and snapping the frisbee through. The arm should stay tight to the body on the follow-through and the palm should still be up with the fingers making a fist to assure that they have squeezed the frisbee out. Make sure that when the pitcher is throwing the frisbee under-handed that the elbow does not bend at a 90-degree angle. You want this pitch to be thrown with the forearm to avoid a nagging elbow injury. As the pitcher becomes more comfortable with the snap, she can do a full circle rotation, with a step, open and close, not a full push-off motion.

The frisbee should end up near the target. If it is going too far across the target, she is holding on to the frisbee to long. If the frisbee is wobbling, then she is trying to snap it like a fastball and she needs to focus on keeping her palm facing toward the sky through the whole pitch.