Softball pitchers can often be seen slapping their legs with their gloves to deliver the pitch to the plate. Many often wonder if this is for a reason or if it adds an advantage to pitching the softball.
Softball pitchers slap their legs when pitching to balance themselves and distract the batter with the noise. Slapping the leg with the glove also helps with the timing of the pitch.
This article breaks down why players slap their legs with their softball gloves and why it may be beneficial to do the same.
Balancing The Pitcher
Softball players will often be seen slapping their leg as either starting their windup or on the release. Here is a visual representation of softball players slapping the leg.
Softball pitchers are known to slap their legs for a few reasons; one of the main reasons is balance. Softball pitches balance themselves on the wind-up by transferring their weight to the back foot.
If the throwing arm goes outside of the body, it can throw off balance during the weight transfer process. The windup is the essential part of throwing a fast and accurate pitch.
Any unnecessary weight transfer from side to side can take away from the end goal of delivering a powerful pitch.
Staying balanced and slapping the leg helps transfer the energy into the leg on the windup, which can help maintain balance for the softball pitcher.
Timing The Wrist Snap
To be an effective pitcher, the timing between the weight transfer and the wrist snap is crucial.
Coaches teach the glove slap on the leg to enforce timing on the exit weight transfer, which helps with the release of the wrist snap.
The leg slap is an audio queue for a young pitcher to learn when to release the softball and snap it toward home plate.
One thing we want to note is the leg slap doesn’t need to be hard. Oftentimes younger pitchers will slap their leg so hard that it will leave a bruise. The glove does not need to pound the leg, but simply a light tap that can be used as an audio queue.
Distracting The Batter
The slapping of the leg is a technique used by younger pitchers to distract the batter. Slapping the leg can distract the batter as they’re looking for the pitch, and the loud sound can interfere with their concentration.
If the pitcher’s hands are wild and the leg slap is loud, a batter can be distracted throughout the entire pitching process.
Often, youth batters are looking for the softball, but seeing a glove slap on the leg can make the batter take the eye off the pitch for a split second. This is just enough to throw off the batter’s concentration.
Communicating To The Catcher
This technique is for experts only. The slapping of the glove can be used to signal to the catcher.
If the opposing team steals your signs, the catcher and pitcher can be on the same page to use the glove slap as a way to communicate to one another.
The glove slap in communication terms can mean:
- A change of pitches
- Throw to a base
As mentioned, this is typically done by professional pitchers and should be avoided by younger pitchers unless it’s necessary. We recommend building a relationship between the catcher and pitcher before installing any audio checks.
See Our Complete List Of Helpful Softball Articles Here.
Why Pitchers Should Avoid The Leg Slap
If the leg slap is happening on the exit weight transfer, it can benefit the hitter. The hitter is trying to focus on the pitcher’s release. Hearing a glove slap on the leg will help them time up their weight transfer as a hitter.
When scouting a pitcher, hearing a glove slap the leg, the batter can get the hands ready to swing. They can also load up the back foot if they’re a power hitter or get ready to start moving if they’re a slap hitter.
If you’re scouting a pitcher, it’s important to time up when they slap their leg and the correct timing to load up the hands. Often it takes anywhere from 2-3 seconds before the pitch is delivered. This will vary based on how old the pitcher is.
It’s important to make sure you’re using the slap as a pitcher that the audio queue isn’t tipping off the batter.
Softball pitchers will slap the glove on their leg for 4 main reasons, including shifting their balance, timing the wrist snap, distracting the batter, and communicating with the catcher. Softball pitchers may use all 4 of these reasons or possibly none of these reasons. They also may do it out of pure habit.
If a younger pitcher sees their idol on TV doing it, it could be that they’re just trying to emulate their game. This is very common among younger pitchers.
We recommend listening to your coach and go with what they believe. There are many reasons why professional players, which may be good or bad, but your coach will be your best resource for what they believe is right for your style of pitching.
Do you coach slapping the leg for a different reason? Have you been coaches to slapped the leg when pitching? Let us know, as we’d love to hear how the leg slap has impacted your pitching career in the comment section below!