How to Pitch a Wiffleball
The Wiffleball was invented by David Mullaney, a brilliant auto polish salesman, for the sole purpose of making a ball that anybody could curve without throwing his or her arm out. The Wiffleball is a hollow white globe, made of tough rubbery plastic. The bottom hemisphere has a solid plastic covering, while the top hemisphere is distinguished by the existence of six equally spaced slits in its covering. Connecting the top and bottom hemispheres is a thin ridge of plastic that for instructional reasons will be called the equator.
The Physics of the Wiffleball:
For a wiffleball to diverge from its straight path of projection, it is imperative that it is spinning on its equator. When this occurs, the top and bottom hemispheres are not spinning over each other, but they remain facing in one direction as the ball moves towards its target. Because the bottom hemisphere has a greater surface area than the top hemisphere, there is a greater amount of atmospheric pressure acting on the bottom hemisphere than on the top. Due to the differences of pressure acting on the two hemispheres, the wiffleball naturally breaks from its straight path and "curves" to the side that the top hemisphere is facing.
Throwing the Wiffleball:
Knowing how a wiffleball works, it is now easy to learn how to properly throw a wiffleball.
Hold the wiffleball with the equator in-between your straight index and middle fingers, with your thumb resting naturally just off the center of the ball. The ring-finger should be placed off in the bottom corner of the ball, and the pinkie should be resting along side the ring-finger.
Only a simple wind-up is needed in wiffleball, since the ball is thrown mostly with the arm, and the best wind-up is always one that feels natural.
There are two basic ways to throw a wiffleball, the side-arm release and the three-quarters release. In the side-arm release your arm is almost parallel to the ground, while in the three-quarters release your arm forms a forty-five degree angle from your head and the ground, as your arm sweeps across your body. Again, it is suggested that you use whatever release feels more natural.
Throwing Different Pitches:
Now knowing how to properly hold and throw a wiffleball, it is easy to learn the basic wiffleball pitches.
To throw a curveball, simply hold the ball with the top hemisphere facing your left, opposite for lefties, and release the ball with your wrist quickly flicking vertically to start the ball spinning.
To throw a slider, hold the ball with the top hemisphere facing your right, opposite for lefties, and again release the ball with your wrist quickly flicking vertically to start the ball spinning.
To throw a sinker, hold the ball with the top hemisphere facing straight down and this time release the ball with a quick horizontal flick of the wrist, to spin the ball.
To throw a riser, hold the ball with the top hemisphere facing straight up and again release the ball with a quick horizontal flick of the wrist, to spin the ball.
A Note on Strategy:
In baseball breaking balls are usually thrown outside the strike-zone, and then break into the strike-zone. Since there is no strike-zone in wiffleball, a strike can only occur when the batter swings and misses. Therefore in order to get the batter to swing, the ball must start in the strike-zone and then break outside of it. Also the use of the fastball, which is thrown by spinning the ball on an imaginary line perpendicular to the equator, is not recommended. There is no such thing as an overpowering wiffleball pitcher, any experienced wiffleball hitter will always hit a fastball hard and far. Finally, the use of gimmick pitches, such as the knuckle-ball and the vaunted push-in pitch, is only recommended to advanced pitchers, to be used sparingly as a variation to the basic pitches.
A Final Word:
The quickest way to lose your abilities as a wiffleball pitcher, and hitter, is to start building up the muscles in your arm. Flexibility and fluidity are the main keys. Also practice whenever possible, whether alone or with a friend; a wiffleball was designed to be safe for use indoors. Finally, experiment. The wiffleball, while being a work of art, is a marvel of engineering. There is still much to be discovered about the wiffleball. Experiment, try something different, see what you can find.