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Softball Pitching Fundamentals: The Beginning of the Pitch

When it comes to the beginning of every pitchers’ pitch it is safe to say that everyone has their own style however there are some parts that should always be the same with every pitcher. This is not only be there are specific rules that can result in an illegal pitch, but because there are fundamentals that are essential to becoming a better pitcher. In this article we will talk about how to stand on the mound, rules and regulations, arm swing, and how to push off.

Standing on the Mound

When it comes to standing on the pitching rubber there are two different rules that vary from each organization on how it must be done. These two rules are called the Step Back Rule and the Start Back Rule.

The Step Back Rule: For USA, USSSA, and High School

The front foot needs to be touching the front part of the pitching rubber while taking the sign and beginning the pitch. The back foot can be wherever when you are taking the sign. It does not need to be in the same place when you stat the pitch and it can start behind the mound.

The Start Back Rule: For College and PGF

The front foot needs to be touching the front part of the pitching rubber while taking the sign and beginning the pitch. The back foot does not have to be in contact with the pitching mound and can be up to 6 inches away from it. The back will start in one place when you take the sign and stay in that as you begin the pitch.

Rules and Regulations

Along with standing on the mound and the different rules for that there are other rules that pitchers should learn to not accidentally have an illegal pitch. Here are some that are important.

  1. Only step on the mound if you have the ball in either your pitching hand or glove.
  2. Pitchers should step on the mound with their hands separated.
  3. Pitchers and catchers can only exchange signals when the pitcher is on the pitching rubber not before.
  4. The pitcher’s hands must come together for a least one second to 10 seconds before starting the pitch.
  5. Once you have put your hands together and separated them again to indicate the pitch starting, the pitcher cannot step off the pitching rubber.
  6. After the pitcher separated their hands and started the pitch, they cannot put their hands back together.
  7. As stated before, the pivot foot must remain on the pitching rubber until the stride has been taken.
  8. While striding the pivot foot must drag behind it. It cannot come off the ground and it cannot replant.
  9. Only one step forward is allowed.

Arm Swing

When a pitcher separates their hands and begins their pitch the next step is the back swing. The pitcher will shift their weight from their front pivot foot to their back front and swing their pitching arm backwards.


Pitchers will lean forward at their waist, but their head should not go lower then their waist. A lot of this preference, like how above Megan Beaubien from the University of Michigan has both her glove hand and pitching hand swinging backwards. A lot of pitchers only swing their pitching arm backwards and keep their glove in front of their waist. The arm itself can go back as far as the pitcher feels comfortable.

Push Off

As the pitcher shifts their weight from their front foot to their back foot and initiates their arm swing, then the pitcher’s weight starts shifting back forward with their back knee driving forward.

Then the stride leg will straighten out (not completely) as it reaches out in front of the pitcher. The glove should go forward and put towards the catcher while the pitching arm stays close to the body and starts the arm circle. At this time the pivot foot will start opening the body.

To be a successful pitcher, it is important to learn this early on and make it habitual. Pitchers who do not have a start and foundation will end up losing a lot of speed, velocity, control, and end up hurting themselves. It is also important to know the rules and regulations and practice them because illegal pitches can really hurt teams especially if it is a close game.

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