If you have a good fast ball, by that I mean you can throw it consistently for strikes with some velocity; it's time to add another pitch. The Change Up is the pitch. The Change Up, once mastered, will make your fastball seem faster, give you an edge that every pitcher is looking for, and give you two pitches that are the only two pitches a young pitcher needs on the mound.
The change up is a fairly simple pitch to learn but must be thrown regularly by most pitchers in order to learn how to control it. The thought behind a Change-up is that it is just that, a change of pace. After you have established your fast ball, you throw the batter a pitch that looks like it's a fastball but travels much slower. A batter looking for a fastball starts his swing earlier and will generally miss or be out in front and pull a well thrown Change Up. Your give the batter something else to worry about by adding this pitch to your arsenal. The more pitches you have command of the more of an edge you have on the mound. When a pitcher throws a change-up he does so with the same motion as he throws the fastball with.
The following pitches offer a good place to start for pitchers whether rookies or they have some innings over their belt.
A Circle Change is called that due to the grip a pitcher uses to hold the ball. The thumb and index finger come together and form a circle. The ball is gripped with the reaming three fingers and held slightly further back off the fingers than with the fast ball.
When throwing the circle change a pitcher uses the same arm motion and speed that they do when throwing the fastball. The grip is different and since it sits back in the hand a pitcher cannot get the same velocity on the ball. A well thrown Circle Change will come down and into right handed batters.
The Palm Ball
The Palm Ball is a pitch that as the name indicated is thrown with the palm of the hand. The pitch can be a more difficult pitch to throw for some pitchers. All four fingers rest on top of the ball across as with the four seam fast ball grip. The thumb is placed on the ball like a fast ball. The ball is held deep in the palm the hand. When delivering the Palm Ball a pitcher again uses the same motion as he does on the fast ball.
Another variation that is hard to master and can be called by different names calls for a pitcher to balance the ball between the thumb and pinkie, both digits are on opposing sides of the ball. The remaining middle three rest on top of the ball. It is best thrown with a stiffer wrist. Again it is hard to throw. One who masters this adds a nice pitch to their arsenal.
The Three Finger
A simple change up to learn. The first three fingers rest across the top of the ball, the thumb to the side. Again the pitcher throws the ball as he would a fast ball. Sometimes simple is best and this pitch is easier to throw for pitchers that have smaller hands.
There are many ways to throw a change-up. The trick is to try different grips until you find one that works for you. Try experimenting with the way you grip the ball across the seams. When thrown correctly you change the way the ball comes across the plate. Remember the following when practicing your Change up:
- Know that you are throwing the pitch to catch the batter off balance.
- Throw the ball with the same arm motion as your fastball
- Experiment with grips until you find the one that is right for you.
- Practice throwing it regularly.
- A good Change Up improves your fast ball.
The Change Up is thrown to keep the batter off balance. A well thrown change up can be more devastating than a great fastball. I have seen pitchers throw their change up and mess up the swings of some of the best batters. You have to throw regularly to improve. Master the Change Up and you just improved your fastball by learning a slower pitch.
Coach Rogers has been coaching, playing, watching and umpiring baseball for more than thirty years.
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