Spin Series with Lacey Waldrop: Dropball Drills

Written By: Lacey Waldrop

Four Drills to Improve your Dropball

After each initial installment of the Spin Series, I will provide a supplemental article the following week. Each secondary article will contain specific drills to help you master the pitch of the week. Last week, I introduced you to the dropball. If you read carefully, I didn't specify any one type of dropball as exceptional to another. Instead, I emphasized finger placement and wrist positioning at release.

Keys to a Devastating Dropball

You can complete the following drills with any type of dropball or even with your fastball. Continue to focus on the following aspects when completing each drill:

  • Create efficient topspin. I always recommend using a taped ball to easily identify your spin.
  • The index and middle finger should lead the pitch at release.
  • Stay long and loose as you finish the pitch, and avoid pulling up on the ball.
  • Maintain an upright posture. If you start to lean over the pitch, you will lose your release point and set your body into poor positions.

Recommended Tools

Dropball Tools

Finger and Wrist Positioning

Although pitching with a softball is sufficient, you can also use a variety of tools to emphasize the index and middle finger leading the pitch. I like to use baseballs, 14-inch softballs, and the Club K Spin-right spinner. Using these different tools doesn't turn bullet-spin into topspin, but they can help pitchers feel a difference in finger and wrist positioning.

String Work

When throwing movement pitches, It's helpful to focus on breakpoints. The strings provide an additional visual aid to recognize movement. For the dropball specifically, I like to use two strings, about eight feet apart to help pitchers understand if their pitch moved properly. You can check out this video for more information.

Pronation Bounce Drill

The pronation bounce drill helps pitchers emphasize positioning their hand behind the ball at release.

  • From a "K position" bounce the ball as high as you can without tightening at release.
  • Focus on maintaining external rotation in the throwing shoulder until release. After you release the pitch, your shoulder should internally rotate.

The Three Plate Drill

Use the three plate drill to work on executing chase pitches and pitches in the dirt.

  • If your pitch is in the dirt, it doesn't need to also be off the plate. To help pitchers visualize a more believable dirt pitch, I placed a small plate in front.
  • Your first plate also serves as an exaggerated location. It's not likely that you'll actually want to throw your pitch that far in front of the plate during a game, but it can be helpful to get comfortable with the concept of dirting pitches.
  • Use the last plate to focus on throwing chase pitches around or just below the ankles.
  • You can throw to each plate in order or alternate between the three.

Long Toss

Long toss helps pitchers emphasize a strong finish without overexaggerating body positioning.

  • I often see pitchers overemphasize leaning into their front side to try and manipulate movement.
  • Truthfully, leaning over your frontside makes it more difficult to find your release point and puts your body into poor positions.
  • Start at 70 percent of your full speed and slowly increase speed while maintaining your spin.

Choose your own Drills

Drills are individualized to each athlete. If you've tried a certain drill a few times and not felt or noticed a difference, it may not be the drill for you. Take ownership of your workouts and warm-ups so that you know what you need to work on to improve your dropball. You can have all the drills in the world, but if you don't complete them with a purpose and goal in mind, you're wasting your time.

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