What Is Crow Hopping?

What is crow hopping

What Is Crow Hopping Written By Gary Leland

More and more illegal pitches are being called in fastpitch softball recently with crow hopping as the most common infraction. The prime question that comes to mind is, why just now? Crow hopping has always been done by most pitchers, if not all, and it really didn’t make such a big deal until now. So a lot of people are left with a couple questions which we will be clarifying out. Is crow hopping really illegal? What would be the appropriate penalty for such violation? Why do pitchers have the tendency to crow hop?

Unfortunately, not everyone is even truly knowledgeable about what crow hopping really is. So it’s important that we get to the nitty-gritty parts of this term as well as discover the rationale behind it so we can understand it better.

What Is Crow Hopping?
According to the ASA rule book, crow hopping refers to:

“the act of a pitcher who steps, hops, or drags off the front of the pitcher’s plate, replants the pivot foot, establishing a second impetus (or starting point), pushes off from the newly-established starting point and completes the delivery.”

Simply put, crow hopping happens when the pitcher does not push off with the pivot foot from the pitcher’s plate. As the term suggests, this occurs when you make a forward hop with your back foot causing your foot to break contact with the ground, and replant and push off from another starting point other than the plate. Crow hopping is also often referred to as replanting.

Furthermore, the rules explicitly imply that crow hopping is illegal.

Crow Hopping In a Different Context:
However, crow hopping may be used in a different context when you’re talking about doing this motion in the outfield.

In many instances, outfielders use the crow hopping technique so they can set the momentum and therefore have enough power to be able to make long throws from the outfield towards the infield. This has been proven to be a very useful, easy technique. And this is totally legal.

However, crow hopping committed during the pitch (by the pitcher of course) is illegal. No “ifs,” no “buts.” That’s a fact. Moreover, the rest of the article will be focused on crow hopping on the basis of being an illegal pitch.

Crow Hopping vs. Leaping:
It is also very critical that we point out the difference between crow hopping and leaping since a lot of players and even coaches mistaken crow hopping and leaping as the same or the meanings of both are being interchanged.

Take note that crow hopping and leaping are in no way the same. Both are illegal pitches, but defined separately.

In crow hopping, the pitcher’s back foot pushes off the pitcher’s plate and replants it on another point other than the plate prior to delivering the ball.

On the other hand, leaping refers to the act of the pitcher in which both feet are simultaneously off the ground before delivering the ball.

Why is Crow Hopping Illegal?
Crow hopping is considered illegal for the sole purpose that this would give an unfair advantage to the pitcher in that it brings the pitcher closer to the home plate and thus the ball is apparently released closer to the batter.

Working around the Technicalities:
A common technique several pitchers attempt to do in order to avoid being called for crow hopping is to make an aggressive push off the pitching plate. This is done by the pitcher dragging her pivot foot along the ground as it’s pushed off the rubber. So technically, there is no violation done since the foot never lost contact with the ground.

Why Pitchers Crow Hop:
There are in fact other different reasons why pitchers tend to crow hop.

One reason could be that the pitchers hope to be able to make a strong pitch thinking that using the crow hop motion would be faster. Well it may seem faster, but really, it’s not. If you really want to throw harder, the trick is in delivering a powerful drive through.

Another common reason for crow hopping that most people don’t realize is a poor posture in pitching brought about by a weak core. So even if there was no intention by the pitcher to get closer to the home plate, the tendency to crow hop may just be inevitable. When the pitcher has the tendency to put too much weight on the front leg, this could result to the back foot being easily lifted off causing it to become airborne. This can be corrected by developing your core strength so you’re able to create a very strong front side resistance.

Consequence for Crow Hopping:
When an illegal pitch is called, the usual penalty for this is a ball on the batter, regardless of a strike thrown. If the illegal pitch results to ball four, the batter will then have to walk to first base. If there are other runners on base, then they will also be allowed to advance one base.

Why Is Crow Hopping Ignored?

Over the years, crow hopping has been considered commonplace despite being illegal. Many people know it is illegal but they don’t mind doing it anyway because umpires don’t call them. It’s either that the ump doesn’t know the rule too well or that his judgment call is to be in favor of keeping the game more dynamic rather than just counting the number of times pitchers have to violate this rule; which they might perceive as only a waste of time or a complete bore.

In addition, umpires would rather choose not to call crow hopping much less tell the pitcher to change and correct the pitch, because especially if the pitcher has been doing this posture over the years, doing so could either get the pitcher out of sync thus affecting her performance in the game; or worse, this could cause injury to the pitcher as this could over stress the shoulder and back.

At the rate of illegal pitches being called at present, crow hoppers must consider correcting this posture; but easily said than done. It actually requires a lot of practice and determination before you can perfect your pitching posture especially because crow hopping can develop into a habit which may just be hard to break.

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