Part 8: The Holy Grail of Pitches



So here we are, at the end of the rainbow! The Holy Grail of pitches. The pitch that almost every pitcher wants to learn how to throw. The Big Kahuna!  The Rise Ball!


So why is the rise ball the mother of all pitches? Why do so many people feel like this is the pitch that separates the great from the very good? What is it about the rise ball that makes everyone lose their minds? 


You can sum it up in one letter, K. And I don’t mean the backwards K that signifies a called third strike, I mean K, the real K, the K that makes pitchers parents smile from ear to ear! Something about getting the hitter to swing and miss is very addictive!


The rise ball is something special and is only really seen in the game of Fastpitch. With the underhanded delivery, the ball can really be thrown with true back spin. The key ingredient to throwing a real rise ball is the correct spin. Getting it is what makes this pitch so difficult to throw properly.


To throw the rise ball, the pitcher must be able to get their hand underneath the ball and spin the ball with a snap that is similar to turning a door knob. Another image is the pitcher trying to draw a circle on a blackboard without ever taking the chalk off the board.


Another crucial component to throwing the rise ball, that again makes throwing it so difficult, is enough velocity to keep the ball moving upward. Some pitchers are able to generate the correct spin but lack the velocity to make this pitch continue to rise.


And just when you think this pitch already sounds difficult enough, we need a tight enough (fast enough spin rate) to make the ball actually break, or jump, when the ball reaches the hitting zone.  Again, many pitchers can throw a ball that appears to be going up hill but the ball isn’t spinning enough to break, it is a straight ball that is thrown high in the zone.


Of all the things about this game I think I believe, there is none I believe more completely than this:


Thousands of pitchers , parents and pitching coaches want to believe they throw a legitimate rise ball, and of that multitude, about 25% really throw a rise ball.  Everyone else believes they do but they are fooling themselves. If you are one of the lucky ones who really throws a rise ball congratulations! You now throw SIX pitches!


Let the howling begin!


About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.