baseball 2-seam fastball gripAs a pitcher, throwing a baseball and making it move the way you want it to demands finesse from your elbow to your fingertips. (Velocity comes from the shoulder). Many pitchers hold the ball in their own specific way making the ball move according to their own body type, forearm, wrist and finger length and strength. What works best for you? Perfect it. Here are a few general guidelines for pitching grips. 
When thrown properly, the beauty of the 2-Seamer is that thrown from a right handed pitcher, it sinks as it moves into the right handed hitter, making it a difficult pitch to hit. Of course, the opposite applies to the lefty pitcher.

Because of the way it moves, it is also called the tailing fastball.

This fastball is thrown with the fingers on top of the ball and close together. Notice how each top finger is touching a seam. Now, because the hand naturally pronates, that is, turns out and away from the pitcher’s body, all you have to do is throw the ball, letting your natural motion take place. The hand will turn out by itself. You can nudge it, making it move even a bit more, by slightly turning your hand out, away from you body, at release. (Best to set your arm and hand angle as you take the ball out of your glove).

To make the pitch move properly is simple enough, just stay on top of the ball, that is, keep your fingers on top of the baseball; always, with the 2-Seamer.

As you get more adept at throwing this pitch, you will add finger pressure to different parts of the ball, and increase your understanding of arm slot and how important those two aspects are. However, for our purposes here, when learning this pitch, proper finger placement is an absolute, and, again, stay on top of the ball.

If your fingers fall onto the side of the baseball, the ball will stay straight and sail into the hitting zone making it very easy for the hitter to send it sailing the other way, too often where the only glove it will hit is that of a paying customer in the cheap seats. This also happens because you will lose velocity and control of your pitch. You don’t want that.

 4-Seam Fastball Grip

Conversely, the 4-seam fastball stays on one plane. However, when thrown properly, the 4-Seamer’s effectiveness is that it overpowers the batter. With two strikes on the batter, many pitchers throw the 4-seam high in the strike zone, or just above the strike zone, making the hitter go out of the strike zone for a swing and miss. The hitter reaches for it, but the pitch is past him before his bat comes around. It is a pitch, in that situation you can double up on, that is, throw twice in a row. Keep in mind, also, the 4-seam fb is 4 separate pitches. How is that? Location. 
1. Up and In
2. Down and Away
3. Up and Away 
4. Down and In. 
When pitching to different locations you are giving the hitter four different and distinct looks. In the end your 4-seamer adds up to four different pitches.
4-seam baseball fastball grip

 The Change-Up

The Change-Up is the second most important pitch in your bag of pitching tricks. Why? It upsets the hitter's timing. And seeing as how hitting is about timing, when you upset that timing, you are in command of the game. Your game.
It is said that as many pitchers as there are, there are as many different Change-Up grips. Find the one that works best for you, perfect it. I repeat. it is said that the Change-Up is the second most effective pitch that a pitcher has. Thrown well and properly, it upsets the hitters timing. And what else is hitting but timing. If you upset that timing, you will win at every level.

Below is what is known as the Forkball Change-Up. This is a wonderful pitch. Makes no difference how old you are or at what level you are pitching at. You can throw this pitch and throw it effectively. It is an extremely easy pitch to learn and to throw. Students have learned this pitch in the afternoon and taken it into a game that night and immediately have gotten many outs with it. This pitch, held in this grip, is thrown as if throwing a FB.

Baseball forkball change-up grip

Now let's get into this a bit deeper.

Split Change Up
(This version recommended by former Major League pitcher and pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre)

Place the fingers apart and lay your middle finger on one seam. Make sure your fingers feel comfortable.

(You do not want to throw a fork ball. That will hurt your elbow. You throw a forkball by extending your fingers wider than is natural. This leads to injury. Don’t do it.)

Next, tuck the ball deeper in your hand than you do when you are throwing a fastball. Tucking the ball back in your hand will cause you to hold onto the ball a bit longer.

When you throw this pitch, lead with the elbow and stay on top of the ball, extend your arm and hand out for your proper release point, and pull down pull down on top of the ball.

Think of pulling down on a curtain shade. When you hear the term, “The pitcher pulled the string,” pulling down a curtain shade is exactly where that term came from.

Once known as the Change of Pace, the ChangeUp is designed to throw off the hitter’s timing.

As someone once said, there are as many changeups as there are pitchers.

Remember, you want to make the hitter think you are throwing a fastball. You must make your throwing motion appear that you are throwing the fastball. He is timing your motion. If he see’s you slow down your delivery, he will know you are throwing a changeup. If he knows that, he will hit the ball hard. You don’t want that.

Curveball, Jim Kaat
"Years ago, this pitch was called a drop. I throw a curve with a 12 to 6 o'clock rotation. This release imparts sidespin and backspin because I maintain pressure on the ball with my middle finger while rolling it out over the top of my index finger. I like to throw the ball into the wind, because this increases the ball's rotation and helps the break. The key to the curveball is to keep your hand behind the ball as long as possible, impart the spin with the wrist and not with the elbow, and make sure the thumb is relaxed. I shorten my stride by 1 in. or so, compared to pitching a fastball. The object here is not to be throwing the ball toward the batter. You want a feeling like you're pulling down on the ball, almost like you're throwing it into the ground. This type of motion gives the ball the desired trajectory".

What happens with the Split-ChangeUp pitch is that it comes into the hitting zone about 5 MPH slower than the pitcher's fastball, and about the time it reaches the hitting zone, it fades downward. When the hitter brings that bat to the ball, he hits on top of it, hitting it into the ground for a routine ground ball. Because of the change of speed, throwing off the hitter's timing, the hitter cannot hit the ball solidly. It is an excellent ground ball out pitch.

Many major league pitchers use it to great effect.

Here are a couple of samples of the other Change-Up grips. Remember, it is imperative that you find the grip that works best for you. Perfect it. Use it. It will always be there you.

This Change-Up is called the Pitchfork Change. It can be held this way, or, with the middle finger between the narrow seams. Either way it comes out of the hand looking like a fastball, but in fact comes into the hitting zone about 10 to 12 MPH slower than the fastball. Nice. It really upsets the hitter's timing. Easy to lean. Easy to throw. It is a standard grip in the major leagues.
baseball change-up grip

Here is an unusual grip for the ChangeUp. Let's call it esoteric. It is hard to control. But, perfect it and you are unstoppable. A friend of mine pitching in the International League pitcher uses this to great effect. This pitch takes lots of time and patience to learn. If you are a young pitcher, think about this for a possible future grip.

baseball change-up grip

Here is the Circle Change-Up grip. This grip was originally used as a teaching method. Not actually as a pitch. The idea is to throw the circle at the hitter. In other words, the hand is pronated, that is, turned out and away from the pitcher's body. I do not recommend throwing this pitch. It is extremely difficult to control. And, you need a huge hand to haves complete control over it and to throw it. But still, it looks nice in a photo.

baseball circle change-up grip

 The Curve-ball

Then there is the third most important pitch in baseball, the Curve-ball.

This is a Spiked Curve-ball. Different than the knuckle-curve. With this grip, throw it as if you were throwing a football. In other words, with the thin part of your wrist facing the hitter. Let that ball roll over your middle finger. Let it, the ball do the work. If you try to manipulate it in any way, it will not be an effective pitch for you. It will be sent a long way by the hitter. You do not want that.

baseball spiked curve-ball grip

Throw it as if as you were throwing a football. This ball is meant to move 12 to 6. Up to down. That is, starts high, out of the strike zone, and then at the last second, drops into the strike zone. Or, if thrown low, at the knees, about the time it reaches the hitting area, it drops, usually causing the hitter to swing over it, sometimes he will get a piece of the top of it and send a weak ground ball to one of your waiting fielders. This pitch is usually about 15 MPH slower than the pitcher's fastball.

Your more classic Curve-ball grip. Throw this pitch low, out of the strike zone. Make the hitter reach for it. Make it look like a strike, but keep it out and away and down.

Keep in mind, you can get away with a weak Curve-ball, say, on an 0-0 count. But you most assuredly cannot get away with a weak Curve-ball later in the count, especially if you choose to throw it in a FB count. Unpredictability is good.

baseball classic curve-ball grip

Click for information on how and why a Curve-ball curves. 

The Knuckleball

Then there is that other pitch. Is it really a pitch? The Knuckleball. Quirky thing, isn't it?
baseball knuckleball grip

And here is another knuckleball grip. There are probably a million of em.


The idea is to put no spin on the ball. When that happens, it moves in the craziest directions, at once. At once? As I say, weird.

Our many thanks to 
Dave Garcia, Stephanie Freznay, Pete and Mike Murray, and Danny DiMare for illustrating these pitch grips for us.

Hey, what do you know, there is Steph with a 4-seam fastball grip. Decidedly not in a baseball uniform. However, her grip is a good one. Meanwhile, there is her husband, my son, Pete, next to her and having a good laugh. The reason he is laughing as that Steph is from France, and knows nothing in the world about the game of baseball. In fact, this is the first time she has held a baseball in her hand, which just proves that anyone can learn to grip the baseball the right way. Look how the ring and pinky fingers are curled up under the ball, with her first and second fingers on top of the ball and her thumb directly underneath. Good job Steph. Now if we can just figure what ball and a strike mean.

And, after all, here is Mike, my other son, identical twin to Pete, and another of our pitch grip illustrators. He of the knuckleball. Is it really a pitch? Here he is sitting in a cafe in Auxerre, France. Cool looking guy, I'd say.

Speaking of France, here I am stepping out of Vincent Van Gogh's doorway, in Paris. He was not home.

Here I am again, closer to home at the baseball academy this time, The Valdez Baseball Academy, that is, with Dave Garcia, yet another of our pitch grip illustrators, on your left, my right. This big 6' 5" lefty was throwing 92 MPH fastballs right next to me in my bullpen. Whew, that thing moves fast. Most people never drive that fast.
The guy in the Pirates hat and jersey is Robertson Valdez. Third baseman, hitter, at the time of this picture, property of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As a pitcher you are your own coach when you are on the mound. There might be 50,000 people in the stands, or no one, with one bench yelling encouragement while the other, discouragement, or not. 

Whatever the case, you are alone, you are by yourself, with a job that must be done. It is up to you to get it done.

You must know what adjustments to make if you suddenly find yourself in a situation where the ball is not doing what you want it to do the way you want it to do it. This is an extremely important part of your job, of pitching. You must learn your game and know it well. At the same time, you must maintain a calm inner being. You must be relaxed.
Learning the art of pitching takes lots of time, study, and infinite patience to be an effective pitcher. If there is a perfect way to do something, it can be learned. Learn the perfect way to pitch, and then practice diligently. Learning how to maintain a calm inner being, being completely relaxed, is easier than you think.

Scroll down for more information on both these pitching aspects.

"If you want to be the best, you must do what the best do."
                                                                                                                     ---Skip Murray

"That which you do not know, the doing will quickly teach you."
                                                                               ---Lao Tzu

Baseball players, as is the case with all athletes, perform at their highest level when they are relaxed. When the mind is clear the body is body to move freely and easily. When the body is moving freely, the athlete is able to perform at the highest level.
The question is, how does the athlete get to the point where he or she is constantly and consistently competing at that highest level? In other words, how does the athlete get to the point where his or her mind and body are completely clear and performing at peak level? Keep on reading, here is your answer.

One highly effective method is to use subliminal messaging software. This conditions your subconscious mind to work with your body at its optimum level. The technique is simple, you simply watch the proper subliminal message program as recommended, and your subconscious mind automatically learns to do the right things at the right time. It is as easy as that.

Winning Athlete Subliminal Message Software

So now, mind and body are working together, and that, my friends, 
is a winning combination.

Delivery - The Baseball Pitcher E-book by Skip Murray

No comments:

Post a Comment