Hello there, tiki510. This is the “snake jazzer” speaking.
I think I can answer a couple of your questions and give you some tips regarding what it is you want to do. First—I figure you’re a low-ball pitcher and you want to get some of your pitches up in the zone. Good idea; every once in a while you’ll find yourself facing a very good low-ball hitter and you want to get him to chase some pitches up and out of the strike zone, or you’ve found out that he can’t hit a high fast ball or whatever so you can go after him with a high pitch. One of the best ways to do this is to learn a short-arm delivery—my old pitching coach had picked that one up when he had been with the White Sox, and he taught me how to use it. Simply put, as you deliver the pitch you pull your arm in closer to your body, as opposed to the full long-arm motion. This will give you twice as many pitches. You work with that for a whiule and you’ll get the hang of it.
Second, you want to learn some breaking pitches. There’s a whole warehouse full of those things to choose from—curves, sliders, splitters, every possible variety of changeups, blah blah blah. What you want to do is figure out what you can use that won’t put any strain on your arm and shoulder, and so I will, right off the bat, give you two pieces of advice. One, stay away from the screwball. Contrary to what a lot of people are saying, that’s a pitch that when thrown too much and too often will screw up your arm, no pun intended. Two, if you’re under 16, wait with the slider—it’s not until you reach that age that certain growth processes in the arm and shoulder are pretty well developed. And then, if you want to learn it, for Pete’s sake find a good pitching coach who knows how to throw it and ask him to teach you.
Meanwhile, there’s a shelf full of snake jazz just waiting for you. For example, there’s the palm ball, which I picked up at the age of 12 and used for more than two decades as a changeup—and a good one it was too. To throw that, you grip the ball with all four fingers on top and the thumb underneath, between the seams, for support. Hold it way back in the palm of your hand—but don’t try to squeeze the juice out of the ball! A firm but comfortable grip will do the trick. And you throw it the same way as the fast ball, with the same arm motion and arm speed. Yet another good breaking pitch is a knuckle-curve, and the simplest way to throw that one is to get a good knuckleball grip (there are several to choose from) and throw a curve with it. I think I picked up mine the same way Mike Mussina did his—he couldn’t throw a regular knuckleball because of the sharp wrist action he had on his curve, so he used a knuckleball grip and threw the curve. And you might look into the circle change—for that, you form a circle with your thumb and index finger on one side of the ball and the other three fingers on top, like the OK sign. There are others—all kinds of pitches just talking to you from that shelf, saying “Come on, try me!” You’re sure to find a few good ones to work with.
Most important, work on control and command. You need to be able to hit your spots, keep the ball (as old Satchel Paige once said) as far away from the bat and as close to the plate as possible. One thing I used to do as a little snip was get a catcher, and we’d play a game we called “ball and strike”—he would position his mitt in various spots, high, low, inside, outside, every which way except standing on his head :lol: , and I would concentrate on getting the ball smack-dab into the pocket of the mitt! I did this with all my pitches, at varying speeds, and what a pleasure it was to hear that good satisfying 'THWACK!" as the ball hit the pocket. That’s the best way I know of to sharpen up control. It was more than a drill; it was a terrific workout and a lot of fun, and on occasion I would have someone stand in the batter’s box so I could really zero in on that strike zone.
I never did reach the speed of Vic Raschi or C.C. Sabathia, but I had some good stuff to work with—at one point, due to some strange circumstance, I ended up with an 81-MPH four-seam fast ball which I added to my arsenal and used, along with my other stuff, to set the hitters up for my strikeout pitch—a slider which I called “Filtny McNasty”, after a character in a W.C. Fields movie because that was exactly what it was. Anyhoo, I hope I’ve given you something to think about and some ideas about breaking pitches to learn and to use. :baseballpitcher: