As I’ve stated in earlier posts, the most effective pitch is and always will remain the fastball. But there comes a time when a young pitcher will want to start to expand his pitching repertoire and experiment with off-speed pitches.
My recommendation is to teach the changeup. There is a myriad of reason to teach the changeup.
- It is an effective pitch at any level
- It can be thrown in different ways to suit the size of hand
- It can be thrown the same way a fastball is thrown and does not put more strain of the shoulder, elbow and forearm of a young players whose muscles, ligaments and bones are still growing.
There are three simple ways to throw a changeup depending on the size and comfort level of a young pitcher.
- The circle change – simply make a circle on the side of the ball with your thumb connecting with your index finger. The middle of the ball should be gently held with your middle finger and possibly your ring finger depending on the size of your hand. Then simply throw the fastball and because of the circle change grip, the ball will go slower and with gravity the ball will drop lower in the zone. It is important to finish each circle change pitch with a good follow through. The circle change is often difficult for a young person with really small fingers but it can be taught at any level.
- A three finger change-up. A four seem fastball is held across four seems with your index and middle finger. A three finger changeup simply adds your ring finger to the grip allowing the ball to come out slower and mess up the hitter’s timing. Throw your three finger changeup like your fastball. It is important to finish your follow through to pull the pitch down in the zone.
- A four finger change-up or a palm ball. This pitch is simply held more in the palm of the pitcher’s hand. All five fingers are actually on the ball, with four fingers being on the top of the ball. With the same mechanic as your fastball, with a proper follow through – this pitch can be effective off-speed pitch.
Try and avoid throwing the curveballs and sliders early in your career. Learn to love the fastball and changeup.
Until Next Time