Strategy is the name of the game when it comes to choosing the right pitch. There are different ways to throw that can affect the batter's perception of the ball's speed and direction in order to get them out - Over the course of the summer, we'll present 6 grips that will help improve your game and hone your skills. Check back each week to learn more.
The 4-seam fastball is the most commonly used pitching grip, and allows for a fast, accurate delivery to the catcher's mitt. Not only is it good to throw from the mound, it's also effective for fielding, too - it allows players to throw the ball faster, straighter, and further.
To throw a 4-seam fastball:
1.) Place your index and middle fingers on the "horseshoe" seam
2.) Place your thumb directly underneath
If you've done this correctly, the seam of the ball that's facing you should make a C-shape.
A Change-Up is designed to disrupt the way the hitter perceives the ball's velocity and trajectory. While it looks like a fastball, and is thrown mechanically like a fastball, the only difference is the grip. Placing more fingers on the ball causes it to travel slower than a standard fastball, and sink to the lower half of the zone - making it more difficult to track.
To throw a Change-Up:
1.) Place your middle and ring fingers between the seams, so the ball is positioned closer to your little finger
2.) Form a circle grip with your index finger and thumb on the inside of the ball
3.) Throw with the same arm-speed as a fastball - trust that the grip will take the velocity off the ball
If you've done this correctly, the batter should inaccurately perceive the speed of the pitch, and swing before it reaches home plate.
The 2-seam fastball is a natural pitch to throw, and is usually taught to players at a young age. On its way to the target, only two seams rotate through the air instead of four, like the 4-seam fastball - this is where it gets its name. 2-seamers also travel slower, but the extra movement on the ball makes up for what it lacks in velocity compared to the 4-seamer.
To throw a 2-seam fastball:
1.) Place your index and pointer fingers between the two seams where they're closest to each other
2.) Place slightly more pressure on your index finger - this will create that extra spin you want once the ball is released
3.) Pronate your hand slightly outward as you throw
If done correctly, the ball should travel down your dominant side and sink once it reaches your target.
The curveball is a popular major-league pitch, and if practiced, can be an asset to any pitcher's arsenal. They're delivered much differently than other pitches, are thrown with considerably less velocity, and are meant to dive as they reach home plate.
To throw a curveball:
1.) Place your middle finger parallel to one of the long seams with your index finger next to it
2.) Rest your thumb just behind the seam on the opposite side of the ball
3.) Be sure snap your arm and wrist in a downward motion as you reach the top of your throwing arc
If you've done this correctly, the hitter should see your curveball start high toward the top of the strike zone, and dive quickly as it reaches home plate.
A slider, also known as a yakker or a snapper, is a breaking ball pitch that's supposed to tail vertically down through the batter's hitting zone. It's thrown slower than a fastball and faster than a curve ball, but its movement is achieved through the pressure of the fingers on the ball - not how fast it's thrown.
To throw a slider:
1.) Place your middle finger on the right side of the ball on the side of the seam (or the left side if you're left-handed)
2.) Place your index finger next to your middle finger, and be sure to put pressure on your index finger when you throw
3.) Place your thumb under the opposite inside seam
If you've done this correctly, the ball should release off of your index finger and tail laterally toward home plate.
Learning how to throw a knuckleball is worth the time and practice, because once mastered, it's virtually impossible for a hitter to make contact aside from luck. These pitches are thrown with no rotation on the ball whatsoever, with the desired effect being for it to dart and dance in different directions in flight, making it difficult to track.
To throw a knuckleball:
1.) Place your index and middle fingers just below the seams - dig your nails into the surface of the ball.
2.) Rest your thumb underneath.
3.) Balance the side against your ring finger, and let your pinky rest next to your ring finger.
4.) To avoid spin, focus on pushing the ball forward and allowing the motion of your arm to account for the ball's velocity.
If you've done this correctly, the spin on your pitch should be minimal, and the ball will travel erratically and unpredictably.
Tag(s): Coach's Clipboard