The Drag Tells The Story

Every pitcher leaves a trail. They all leave a ton of evidence every time they pitch in the dirt. If we were watching an episode of any crime drama we would see them talking about DNA and fingerprints as they work to solve the crime.

Well, what is the crime in softball?

The illegal pitch!

I was very curious to see what impact the new pitching rules allowing the pitcher to start with her back foot off the rubber was going to have on the game.  I personally believe some of the changes were motivated by the desire to make enforcement of the pitching rules easier for umpires.

Sorry, but we are still seeing illegal pitches being called. Now there is only one real area of concern and that is the pitcher who leaves the ground as they drive forward. Leaping or crow hopping or replanting or whatever you want to call it, is still an issue.

While watching several games on ESPN, I noticed a couple games where several pitchers were occasionally being called for leaping. Now what made one pitch illegal and another not illegal when they all looked to same to me is another discussion but the problem of illegal pitches is still there.

If we want to help our pitchers solve the issue of leaping we can get them to understand that they need to drag their foot when they pitch and that there will be evidence of what they are doing every time they pitch.  If she can’t “feel” what her body is doing then we can “show” her.

When she pitches on the dirt, she will be able to see what her back foot is doing every time she pitches. If there is a gap between where she pushes off the pitching rubber and where her foot starts to drag then she is leaping.


If there is a gap between the rubber and a spot where her foot clearly digs in again then she is replanting.


What we want to see is a clear drag mark from where her foot starts through the finish of her pitch. The “perfect” drag mark will follow the energy of your body and the mark left behind will mimic the movement your pitching form creates.

For most pitchers, what they leave behind is a question mark without the dot. Some leave more of a slash that drags away from the rubber at an angle.

If your drag is a straight line that goes directly towards home plate you are not opening your hips.

If the line you create is very narrow then you know that your toe is dragging.

If the groove is wide then you are dragging the side of your foot.

Either way, the drag mark is telling you a lot.