Breakdown of pitches from OU Pitching Manual

Hey guys, I always see people asking about throwing different pitches and I found this online and thought it had a nice breakdown of a good amount of pitches. So because its Friday and I’m in a good mood, I thought I’d share, hope you enjoy.

Basic Pitches

Understanding what makes a ball move will be very beneficial to your developing different types of pitches. It is important that you master two different types of pitches to be successful here at the University and in this Conference. To become a great pitcher, it is to your advantage to develop three pitches. The best way to accomplish this mastery of pitches is to understand that the ball has parts: Top, bottom, back, front, inside and outside. When throwing the back of the ball, the ball will retain the energy force behind it, making it the fastest pitch thrown: the Fastball. Any deviation from one side to the other, the ball does not retain the energy of the arm and is reduced in speed but sends the ball to the plate with different rotation, which means different movement. Here are different pitches and how we will throw them.

Fastball -
The fastball is the most important pitch in our repertoire, and in the game of baseball. All pitches will work off our fastball arm action and velocity. You must be able to throw the fastball to both sides of the plate and hit your target a high percentage of the time. Our goal for quality target location will be 65 percent. We will throw both four and two-seam fastballs. In both pitches we will throw the back of the ball. The four-seam fastball will be used when pitching in to your arm side as this pitch will have the less likelihood of running in on the hitter. It is gripped across the horseshoe of the baseball. The two-seam fastball will be our pitch for movement and is gripped either across the narrow seams of the ball or inside them. It is ok to throw this pitch while going in to a hitter away from your arm side. Thought process for both pitches should be based on a high percentage, the four-seam fastball stays straighter than the two-seam fastball, though this is not always the case. Knowing your fastball and it=s action, is essential to your approach. Note: I would like for everyone to work with a thumb tucked grip on the fastball. Play with this, as a lot of big league guys have found success by doing so.
Fastballs with Movement:
As stated above, any pitch in which you do not throw the back of the baseball will be reduced in speed, but will alter rotation and cause movement. Getting to the sides of the baseball can be the result of throwing a different part of the ball, adding different pressure within the grip, or both. Two pitches that we will look at and incorporate, are the cut fastball and the sinking fastball.

Cut fastball -
Known around the baseball world as the Acutter@, this pitch will be a short slider in our book. Ideal fade will be 2 B3 inches away from our arm side. This pitch is thrown exactly like our fastball and can be gripped in a narrow or close finger grip. When at release point we want to throw the top outer 8th of the baseball. This is not a caressed pitch. The word cutter and it=s definition is exactly what we will do with this pitch. Cut through the ball. At release your fingers will edge up the ball and be pointing at a 2 o=clock position looking down on the ball for lefties, and 10 o=clock for righties. See me on approval of adding this pitch.

Sinking fastball -
Opposite of the cut fastball you will throw the top inside 8th if the ball getting the ball to sink to your arm side. This will make your fastball lose velocity but should gain the advantage of movement. It is a fastball gripped change-up.

Change-up -
The definition of a change-up will be A that it is a fastball that is slower because of it=s grip and the part of the ball we throw. The definition is important in that we must have fastball arm speed and action from the wrist down. Hitters can not pick up speed variation in the baseball, they pick up subtleties the arm action or pace of the pitcher. We must keep everything fastball-like with the exception of the grip and part of the ball we throw. In throwing the change-up we will throw the back inside part of the ball. As stated earlier, throwing the back of the baseball promotes the most velocity and by throwing the back inside part of the ball, the ball will not retain the arm speed thus making it slower. We will accomplish this by keeping the ball in our fingers and not dropping the ball deeper into our palm. In throwing the back inside part of the ball it is important to note that the ball will be leaving your ring finger and sometimes pinky last. It is very important to have a quality change-up as it will make your fastball better.

There are many types of grips for the change-up, picking a grip will be determined on the ability not only to command the pitch but to keep it fastball like.

Curve ball -
The definition of a curve ball is that Ait is a fastball that breaks because of the part of ball we throw@. To throw a power-breaking ball it is important to keep it fastball like. In many breaking ball talks, you are told to visualize a barrel in front of you, or to pull down a window shade. For us here, we will consider the pitch no different from our fastball from the wrist down. To throw the curve ball while keeping it fastball like requires you to throw the top-front of the ball. By throwing this area it should promote down rotation to the baseball. At release your palm will be facing the side of your face, in a karate chop like manner. Arm speed and trust is the key to this pitch. We do not want to induce spin by snapping our wrist, pulling down a lamp shade, or rolling our thumb. All these will force our curve ball to become exceptionally slower and in most cases force the ball to pop out of the top of your hand making it a easy read for the hitter. The fastball like arm action and the grip on the part of the ball will allow for the rotation to occur keeping it fastball like with late breaking action.

Spike -Curveball -
Same as above, simple place index finger in bent or coiled position with majority of pressure on middle finger and thumb. Same hand position at release as curveball but eliminating index finger as friction point for another feel that possibly allows for ball to leave hand easier. Feel and preference is the factor no major difference in tradition curveball above…

Knuckle-curve -
Unlike the spike curve ball, where you simple throw the curve ball with a bent index finger the knuckle-curve is more fastball like because the hand stays behind the baseball. As a result, the pitch retains more arm speed making it a very hard and late breaking curve ball. The key to the knuckle curve is the part of the ball you throw. It is important that to gain downward rotation to create the breaking ball action, you must throw the front part of the baseball. This pitch requires you grip the bottom front part of the baseball. This will be the same area used to throw the palm ball as well. Gripping the pitch as you would a two-seam curve ball take your index finger and place it behind the baseball. The key is in the gripping in the front part of your middle finger and thumb. This pressure going through the front bottom part of the ball is what will create the backside of the baseball to lead out initiating downward rotation. See me on a three step progression drill to this pitch.

Palm ball -
Like the knuckle curve ball it is the same process in that you throw the front bottom part of the baseball. The palm ball is gripped with the ring finger, pinky and thumb. At release the middle and index finger will be relaxed and off the ball to allow for the back side of the ball to come out allowing for downward rotation to occur. This pitch will be very change up like in velocity due to the grip. Same three step drill for knuckle curve applies to palm ball.

Slider -
The slider is a fastball that breaks because of the part of the ball that we throw. It is important that to get more side to side break you have to throw the outside 1/3 or the baseball. To allow for more fastball like action it is also important to throw the top outer 1/3 of the ball. Your fingers must try to remain on top of ball at release. If looking at the gripped baseball at release from a top view, the fingers for a left-hander will be pointing at 1o=clock and for a right-hander at 11 o=clock. The fingers will get through the baseball. Snapping the wrist or rolling the baseball are two aspects that must not occur in this pitching process, as both can result in injury.
Split finger fastball B
The split-fingered fastball can be thrown in a number of ways. To learn how to throw the pitch you start out with a two seam fastball grip and spread your fingers. The hand stays behind the baseball at release like the fastball. The key to obtaining this pitch is to continue to spread the fingers as you are practicing this pitch until you see the balls rotation is like a knuckle ball, slow rotation to no rotation. At this point it is a matter of expanding the fingers a few more millimeters allowing the back side of ball to leave the grip causing tumbling action. Variations to this pitch is in the thumb, placing the thumb directly in the middle of both fingers is good for pitchers with large hands, advancing the thumb up towards your index finger is a choice for smaller hands or as a variation for pitchers who throw the previous mentioned grip.

The key to becoming a great pitcher at this level and above is to find the right combination of pitches to master keeping it to a max of four pitches and mastering the location of those pitches. It is better to master 2 pitches than to have 4 average to below average pitches. Your time should be spent in gaining command of each pitch one at a time and developing a strong approach to each one of them. Stay in constant communication with me as you experiment with the above grips. Some arm slots do not allow for some of these pitches.