Can't locate the fastball


#1

Okay, this may seem really stupid but here’s the situation: I’m 17 and I just started pitching a month ago, and only got serious about a week ago. From what I’ve heard my mechanics are fine (can’t post a vid because I lack a video camera >_>) and I estimate my fastball velocity to be at least 70 mph. (and below 80, of course)

Here’s the thing: I can’t throw the darn pitch. I’ve thrown less than 500 pitches in my career and can say that I throw my curveball with good location (and wicked break), I can keep my splitter down, and I’m effectively wild (“effectively” being a very generous term here) with my slider, but I miss by at least 5 feet with my fastball. Every time. I’ve missed up, right, left, and down.

I know everyone who started pitching earlier has perfected their fastball very early and it’s the first pitch they have perfected, but this fastball of mine is anything but perfect. Tips?


#2

Pacman, I just finished talking to someone else who’s been having trouble with his fast ball, and I believe the same thing would apply to you. You need to get that pitch up to speed and in the strike zone, and one way you can do it is a variation of something I used to do as a little snip, many moons ago.
Get a catcher, and have him set up behind the plate while you take the mound. Have him position his mitt in various spots, high, low, inside, outside, and throw to those spots—fast ball only, never mind the other pitches. You want to get the ball in the pocket of the mitt. It’ll take time—apparently you never devoted much time and effort to perfecting your fast ball—but eventually you’ll get it, and you’ll have that fast ball well in hand (no pun intended). Better late than never, eh?
You can imagine yourself in the same position as guys like Bob Feller, Vic Raschi, Bob Gibson and Justin Verlander—all rip-roarin’ fireballers. They all had (have) the control and could get the ball to go where they want(ed) it. Maybe you won’t achieve the same speeds as they do (did), but you’ll be able to do a lot with that pitch. Hang in there! 8)


#3

Like Zita said pretty much, the fastball is like any other pitch, you may be used to just grabbing the ball and which way in the field but you have to get comfortable with your fastball grip off the mound. I would be extremely surprised if your mechanics were perfect as well. I’ve been pitching for years and I know that I can still improve, if you were able to just pick up pitching mechanics completely fine like you said, that would be a major accomplishment. My guess is there are some very serious parts to your motion that you have overlooked. Also, pitching requires you to develop two motions, the wind up and the stretch, of course you could just use the stretch but most people prefer to have a wind up unless they are a relief pitcher. You have to get comfortable out of both positions, not just one. There are many young pitchers (I say young as a relative term to refer to someone who is new to pitching, you are only a year younger than I am) who only work out of the wind up when they practice and struggle mightily once they get runners on. Not only do you have to be comfortable from the stretch but you have to be quick enough to the plate to give your catcher a chance to throw the runners out to, otherwise those walks that you give up will turn into easy doubles for the other team as they can just swipe the bag. I had a lot of trouble with runners early on in my high school career but I developed a good pick off move to keep the runners close to the bag and a slide step to give my catcher a chance. You even have to be careful to be quick enough if there is a runner only on second as they can and WILL time you and as soon as that leg lifts, they are off to the races. Another important part of keeping runners honest is to mix up your timing, if you feel like you have been doing the same thing over and over and the runner is timing you, just come set and hold it until either the batter says time, or the runner takes off. Yes, sometimes the runner will take off because they have been timing you, it has happened to me many times when I used this method. I realize that this was a giant post for you to read but I just wanted to make you aware of some of the things that aren’t so obvious when you start pitching but are extremely important.

As far as my personal tip besides getting comfortable with your motion and grip, keep your shoulder closed, throw through your shoulder, and throw through the catchers mitt, not to the mitt. Also, consistency is the most important part, repeat the same motion every time, but make sure you are comfortable with it.

I apologize for the wall which may have caused bleeding of the eyes upon sight.


#4

Also, it’s important to do what Zita said and have the catcher move the glove around, if the catcher just puts his mitt up and says go for it every time you have just learned to get the pitch in the strike zone, not locate it, which are two vastly different things.


#5

Thanks Zita and rckdhouse.

About the windup/stretch and baserunning tips, guess I have some runner holding to work on, but my windup and stretch end up being similar in the delivery, so no problems there.

I’m aware of the difference between just getting a strike and locating a pitch. For instance I have been able to throw my curveball to any corner I wanted to except the top-right (though low fastballs are best), which = location, but I can only throw strikes with the slider; no idea on where in the strike zone they’ll end up, which = just getting strikes.

I can do neither with the fastball so I’ll follow your tip, Zita, after I can throw strikes in the first place. And that’ll just take practice. Though I still don’t know why I’m so unusually terrible with the fastball.