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Stepping Back when Pitching


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6 replies to this topic

#1
TGauss

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My 12-year-old daughter's coach selected her to start pitching this year in the local youth league, supposedly using ASA rules. Locally it was decided that only one foot needed to be on the rubber for this age group (12 + Under). The next age group up will be required to have both feet touching the rubber. During her training though, the coach has her stepping back of the mound with her left foot (right-handed) before coming to the plate.

Originally it was a continuous movement, back then forward. She then changed her mechanics and pauses in a position similar to the Silver Surfer on his surf board before coming to the plate. All the other teams in the division do not have their pitchers step back before coming forward. The umpires do not call this an illegal pitch, but also state they do not call "balks" in this age group.

From what I've read, the pause may be illegal once she has started the motion, but what about the step backwards? One of the umpires told me he saw a girl in college that pitched that way. I need to know if any of these motions constitutes an illegal pitch so I can work on changing her mechanics while she is still young. Can anyone help?

#2
KCSoftball

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Teach her proper mechanics NOW, don't wait. It becomes harder to change as they advance. I know of no college that will allow pitchers to step back before delivering the ball! The NCAA rules are the same as the ASA rules. Teach her the proper way!

#3
BretMan

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One of the umpires told me he saw a girl in college that pitched that way.

Then one of the umpires you talked to is full of it! Stepping back is NOT allowed in NCAA college softball.

Some rule sets allow the pitcher to start with one foot on the pitching plate (the pivot foot) and others require that both feet be in contact. ASA and NSA softball are two that require both feet on the plate and do not allow a step backward. High school "Federation" rules and USSSA rules do allow the pitcher to take one step backwards with the non-pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

From a practical standpoint, it's usually best to teach a pitcher one set of mechanics and let her focus on perfecting those, instead of trying to teach her two different deliveries just in case she happens to play under a different set of rules. The rule sets that allow a step back do not require it and a pitcher is still free to start with both feet on the rubber if she wants.

Under rule sets that allow stepping back, what you describe sounds like a legal move (and I like the Silver Surfer analogy, since I was a comic book geek back when I was a kid!). The step backwards must be made prior to, or simultaneous with, the hands coming together. Once in that position, the pitcher may pause, since the pitch does not "officially" begin until the hands are separated or the pitcher makes any motion with her wind-up after the hands have been brought together. Anything before that pont is considered "preliminary" to the pitch, thus not interpreted as a pause in the actual pitching motion.

If she brings her hands together first, then steps back, that is an illegal pitch. If she gets back into that Silver Surfer position and begins any movement of the hands without immediately delivering the pitch in one continuous motion, that would be an illegal pitch for having a pause in her motion.

And note that I called these "illegal pitches" and not "balks"! There is no such thing as a "balk" in softball! That's another sport, one where they use a smaller ball and a different rule book. Different sport, different rule and a different penalty to apply!

#4
SnocatzDad

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Because USSSA and NFHS allow the rock-back step it's not something to be completly discounted. Taking the rock-back step gives a significant competitive advantage and, if it's allowed, not using it is to your disadvantage. Given that 95% of pitchers never pitch past HS, not doing it because it's NCAA-verboten is fairly weak. We have one of three pitchers who is pretty comfortable doing it both ways and we switch back and forth playing ASA USSSA and all the girls play high school. It's not for everyone, but the one girl who takes advantage of it really does IMO become a more forceful pitcher with the rock-back step.

#5
Ron B

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OK...just so I understand: my youngest pitches and has been coached to "rock" (from the pitching clinic run by Millikin)—that is not legal?

Instead of rocking back on the opposite foot, she should "lean" and then basically one-step the pitch with the wind-up?

Her usual stance is: receive ball from catcher, step on rubber with both feet ball in hand glove at chest, raise ball hand to chest, put ball in glove, step off with opposite foot "rocking back" and get a big push and follow-through while winding up and delivering the pitch.
Father of three softball players.........
Will they ever listen?????????

#6
unclematt

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My 12-year-old daughter's coach selected her to start pitching this year in the local youth league, supposedly using ASA rules. Locally it was decided that only one foot needed to be on the rubber for this age group (12 + Under). The next age group up will be required to have both feet touching the rubber. During her training though, the coach has her stepping back of the mound with her left foot (right-handed) before coming to the plate.

Originally it was a continuous movement, back then forward. She then changed her mechanics and pauses in a position similar to the Silver Surfer on his surf board before coming to the plate. All the other teams in the division do not have their pitchers step back before coming forward. The umpires do not call this an illegal pitch, but also state they do not call "balks" in this age group.

From what I've read, the pause may be illegal once she has started the motion, but what about the step backwards? One of the umpires told me he saw a girl in college that pitched that way. I need to know if any of these motions constitutes an illegal pitch so I can work on changing her mechanics while she is still young. Can anyone help?

It is a very bad habbit that she doesn't need to have teach her the proper way 



#7
KCSoftball

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Last thing on this subject: Rec ball, HS ball, Travel ball, it doesn't matter, teach them the proper technique and that is the ASA/NCAA/USSSA rules. None allow a step back. One never knows what the future will bring? If you teach her the easy way and when she get's into HS, what if it cost's her? DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!  






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