Whether you play a chip shot or pitch when you are out on the golf course really depends on the distance for the shot that you are faced with.
A chip is a shot played over a shorter area whereas a pitch shot is a shot played over a longer distance. When you are chipping, you would tend to use a straighter faced, or less lofted club as a chip flies lower than a pitch and also runs, or rolls along the ground much more. If you were playing a chip with a 7 iron you would tend to see that it flies 25% in the air and then rolls 75% along the green. A pitch, however, would be played with a higher lofted club such as a pitching wedge and you would see this shot in the air for much longer. A pitch will fly 95% in the air and then only roll about 5% along the green.
The main difference between a chip and a pitch is the use of your wrists when playing the shot. If you take an alignment pole and hold it with your golf club handle so that the pole extends upwards behind your left arm, you will see the difference between a chip and pitch quite clearly.
For both shots, set up with your feet just under shoulder width apart. You are not going to be swinging the club head at maximum club head speed for either of these shots so you do not need a wide stance. Aim the club face at your target and then take your stance up playing the ball from the centre of your stance whether you are chipping or pitching.
Pull your left foot directly back about four inches (for right handed golfers) as this will encourage your body to rotate towards the target as you hit the shot and allow you to extend your arms and the club head along the target line towards the target, whether you are playing a chip or a pitch.
Place more weight on your left side than usual and hold the golf club handle lower down than usual, no matter whether you are playing a chip or pitch. Holding lower down on the handle reduces the distance between your hands and the club head and this will result in you having more control over the club head as you play the golf shot.
Both shots are played with your hands set ahead of the club head. That simply means that your hands are more to the left of the club head as you look at the ball and if you are holding the alignment pole behind your left arm, this will set your hands ahead of the club head. You want to create a straight line from your left shoulder, down your left arm to your hands and then down the shaft of the golf club to the club head.
The set up position for playing a chip or playing a pitch is exactly the same. The difference between the two shots is in how you make your backswing. If you are chipping, you do not use your wrists. You swing the straight line of your left arm and the club away from the golf ball and then you swing the straight line back towards and then through the ball. Your backswing and follow through should be of equal distance and you should not use your wrists during the movement, the straight line should be maintained throughout the shot and the pole should remain in contact with your left rib cage throughout the movement.
However, when you play a pitch you swing away from the ball with the straight line between your left arm and the club until your hands are across your right thigh. At this point, you hinge your wrist so that the alignment pole moves away from being in contact with your left rib cage and points down at the target line. The use of your wrist in this way launches the golf ball at a higher angle into the air to produce a higher flighted golf shot than a chip. Swing the club head back down towards the golf ball and create the straight line between your left arm and the golf club as you strike the ball. The alignment pole should re-connect with your left rib cage as you hit the golf ball. Rotate your body towards the target as you play the shot and keep the pole in contact with your left side, so that you maintain the straight line of your left arm and the golf club.
A chip and pitch both have an identical address position but a very different backswing action as a chip does not involve your wrists but a pitch requires you to hinge your wrist and this produces a different trajectory for both golf shots.