A few more pitching q's

  1. What is Scap Loading?
  2. When I step forward to pitch i lunge so i can get it higher in the zone. I see most pitchers with a stiff leg in front… What am i SUPPOSED to do and why?
  3. Are the Rawling CROLB balls you get at Sports Authority bad balls?
  4. I have never pitched off a nice mound or in cleats… is it really necessary?
  5. Can anyone throw a big 9-3 (NOT 3-9 slider) or anything close to it?

I want to be a breaking ball pitcher since i don’t pitch against any high level players. I was actually inspired be Zita Carno’s “Snake Jazzer” title. Sure i can probably fend them off with a decent fastball/curveball combo, but thats no fun (even in street ball) =]

Are there any other breaking ball “masters” here? I’m just a novice looking for some new ventures in life.

Thanks in advance for your time and advice.

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. :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:

Wow Thank You Carno! I’m a 19 year old “college” student.

Gave me a quite bit to think about. I Totally forgot about short arm releases (because I am a novice going though some rough/busy college days). My form, or i should say lack of form, feels as if I’m lacking tons of natural power. I can feel the impact each adjustment control wise, but my mph is probably around 30 @ 75% strength LoL. I have been scared to throw max because of a previous injury. I can’t long toss well at ALL. Basically, if you saw me on a field, you wouldn’t know that I am trying to play baseball. My skill level is pretty low.

Lately it has taken me quite a long time to warm up. Also, I am starting to use the school gym to whip myself into shape again.

Back to the Point… I’m looking for the major factors in mechanics that give breaking balls their breaks.

Please Answer My Original Questions Also! Thanks in Advance

-}> Nick

What makes a breaking ball break?
To put it simply—I’m not one for abstruse explanations—it has to do with a couple of basic elements: the grip and the wrist action. Everything else works off those two. For example, take two pitches, both of which I used. The curve ball. The grip is similar to the fast ball, but whereas with the fast ball you just pretty much throw it, the curve requires a good strong wrist snap. Some people have likened it to a karate chop or pulling down a window shade. Also, the arm angle one uses is a factor, whether it be overhand, 3/4 (high or low) or sidearm. To throw the popular “12-to-6” curve ball requires a straight overhand delivery, whereas using a different arm angle will cause the ball to break differently. I was a sidearmer, so when I threw a curve it would go pretty much 3-to-9 or 4-to-8. The slider, which was my strikeout pitch, is thrown like a curve BUT you don’t snap your wrist, you just roll it—turn it over, so to speak—and when thrown correctly it’s easier on the arm and shoulder than just about any other pitch. You say you’re 19—you might try it; I still suggest that you find a good pitching coach to help you with that. Then there are two pitches which one might call “cousins”—the fork ball, which puts a terrific strain on the arm because you have to grip that pitch with the index and middle fingers spread so wide that youare actually holding the ball between them (Ouch!), and the splitter, or split-finger fast ball, which calls for a similar grip but not quite as extreme. I would avoid them if I were you, at least at first.
There are hundreds of schools of thought regarding the mechanics of throwing those pitches, some of which are so far out in left field that I wouldn’t even consider them. I will, however, tell you about one essential aspect: you have to get your whole body into action. Some people throw with just their arms, and as a result they often end up on the disabled list—for example, Detroit Tigers pitcher has a violent windup and delivery and his arm threatens to fall off! He’s on the DL again—what is the matter with that guy? He wants to throw 110 MPH, but he’s doing it all wrong. Anyway—about getting your whole body into action: I remember when I was a kid and I would go to the original Yankee Stadium every chance I got. I liked to watch the pitchers, and I noticed that the Yankees’ Big Three—Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Ed Lopat—were all doing the same thing. They were driving off the lower half of the body, using the legs, the hips and the torso in one continuous motion, and that was how they were getting the power behind their pitches—not to mention that doing this took a lot of pressure off the arm and the shoulder. They may have had other ailments—Raschi had bad knees, Reynolds was a diabetic, and Lopat had all kinds of gastrointestinal problems—but not a sore arm in the bunch! I saw just how they were doing this, and I made a note of it and started working on this on my own. As I practiced this aspect of mechanics I found that not only was I getting more power into my pitches, I was also throwing harder and faster than I had been doing before. It felt as if my arm and shoulder were just going along for the ride—throwing harder with less effort. And I picked up some speed along the way; I ended up with a good four-seamer, 81-MPH, which Lopat (and what an incredible pitching coach he was) told me was, for a finesse pitcher such as I was, a fast ball. There are some drills and exercises for this—one of them is known as the “Hershiser drill”, which aims to get the hips involved. You can ask Steve about these.
And don’t forget to complete your pitches—make sure you follow through all the way so that you end up in a good fielding position. Whew! I think I’ve given you enough to set your brain going into overdrive—definitely things to think about and figure out how to incorporate them into your workout. The rest is simple common sense—eat right, get lots of rest, do some specific workouts to strengthen yourself—and don’t forget, I’m no farther away than this stupid computer. :slight_smile: 8) 8) :baseballpitcher:

Thanks Again! This is valuable information for a novice such as me! The Hershiser drill is something I can see changing my form into a more fluid one.

Leading with my butt… who would have thought. I was thinking about it all on my way to French Class haha. Nothing but positives came up.

One Question. If i incorporate this into my form, won’t it almost REQUIRE me to swing my stride leg? Instead of Driving it towards home? I will do bit of research but i still want to post this question as insurance.

Please, the more answers you give me, the less I’ll bug you! =]

Thanks for Your Time.

No, you’re not bugging me at all. As one of a number of peiple with extensive experience on the mound, if there’s anything I can do to help, I’ll do it. Now. You can actually do both, swing that leg and drive it forward to create the momentum towards home plate. Remember that the whole motion needs to be continuous—seamless, if you will—and directly towards the catcher’s mitt. I’ve seen C.C. Sabathia do this, and believe me, he does it very well. When I pitched, I used a slide-step all the time—I found that it gave me more speed in my delivery—and, being a righthander, I did it with my left leg (the landing leg). I would swing my right leg forward as I went into the follow-through on my pitches, and I always ended up square to the plate, in a good fielding position. You can practice doing this—always off the mound, because one needs to get the feel of throwing off a rubber, and with the height you can get that downward plane on your pitches. :slight_smile: 8)

I will incorporate these tips ASAP.

Thanks again.

I’ve been making my follow through sharper to add the necessary spin for a decent break on my curveball. Is this the correct thing to do? I don’t “snap” my wrist at all, if i put a little more umpf in my wrist action will i receive a “nastier” break?

I’m really bushed from my classes i need to rest properly… early bed time for me =]

Thanks again for all your help.

ONE MORE THING!! Some one make me a cool name like “Snake Jazzer!” Something suitable for a breaking ball pitcher haha. Though i cant seem to pitch faster than a little league player, I’ll get there!!!

Good morning, tiki610.
How about a slider? You’re doing exactly what you need to do there—not snapping your wrist, just turning it over—and you’ve got a slider in the making. Some pitchers will use a slider instead of a curve ball, either because they have trouble with the curve or because the slider is indeed easier to throw. Vic Raschi—another of the Yankees’ Big Three, how well I remember him!—didn’t have an “Aunt Susie”, as they used to call a curve ball. He had an overpowering fast ball, an even more devastating slider (his best pitch), and a very good changeup, so he didn’t need the curve.
How and in what direction the slider will break depends on your arm angle. I don’t know which one you use—overhand. high or low 3/4, or sidearm—but you’re on the right track, and I would suggest that you forget about the curve for the time being and work on developing that slider—it sounds like a good one, and it is indeed easier on the arm and shoulder. I remember when Ed Lopat showed me how to throw that pitch, many moons ago—he showed me that off-center grip, demonstrated the wrist action, and then handed me the ball he had with him and said “go ahead, try it.” He watched me for about ten minutes, and I had the impression he was making some mental notes. He was, and he was forming a jumping-off point from which he would work with me.
Enough for now. Get some rest, sleep late if you wish, and don’t try to get all the stuff I’ve told you all at once—take a couple of ideas and work with them until you have what you want, then go to the next couple. Sure, it takes time, but it’s eminently worth it. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Zita, i throw very close to overhand =].

i threw today… I’m afraid to throw hard. My previous shoulder injury is lingering. I never got it checked out cause i didn’t have health insurance. I’m tossing it with my form. i went for a few hard pitches and it felt good, but i REALLY don’t wanna be out of throwing completely for another month.

How would i find a “natural” arm slot? I threw overhand since the beginning, cause of the amount of pros i see pitching in such a way and how much i adored it.

Thanks for the time advice.

You’re throwing at a high 3/4 angle, and if that’s comfortable for you, stay with it.
Don’t try to do too much right now. Easy does it—just stick with playing catch, give your arm time to recover.