Change up Speed


#1

Hey guys, Just wanted your thoughts on the change up. Today, my 10 year old son just had his first practice with his summer team and was working on pitching with one of his coaches. After throwing for a little bit, he was asked to throw a change up. After throwing a few, the coach seemed to think there wasn’t much of a velocity difference compared to his fastball. And you know, he may be right. His circle-change is probably 2-4 mph slower at most, but I always thought it was fine because it breaks inside(he’s still inconsistent, but 7 out of 10 they usually break inside).

So guys, what do you reccomend? Should he just keep throwing his circle change the way he has? Is it just the hands and mound distance that doesn’t give the pitch the drop in speed? Should I listen to his coach and tell him to throw it slower? I always heard that a change up should be thrown like a fastball, and that the grip will give more spin and slow it down. Maybe he should choke the ball more like a palmball?

I don’t know, I guess this coaches reaction today really made me question the change up in youth baseball. He could always just slow his arm speed, but I never really thought of that as a change up. It might work now, but the older he gets I feel like that will be more ineffective. I honestly thought the velocity difference will show more with an increase in mound difference, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he just isnt throwing it right.

Okay I think I’m done rambling now… haha I would love to hear your opinion

Thanks!


#2

My wise and wonderful pitching coach once told me that just about any pitch can be turned into a nice changeup, and he demonstrated some for me and showed me how to throw them. I think that what your kid should do, if he wants to really slow it down, is try something like a palmball—that was my first changeup, and a very good one it was. One thing he should never do is slow down the arm speed; all this does is telegraph the pitch—you have to throw everything, even changeups, with the same arm motion and arm speed as for the fastball!


#3

For young pitchers, it’s important to look at change up speed in percentages, not MPH, in my opinion.

For MLB pitchers, you’d like to see the change up be 12-15 mph slower than the four-seam fastball. So a guy throwing a 93 mph fastball should have a 78 mph change up. That’s a 16% difference in speed.

For youth pitchers, it’s not reasonable to throw change ups 12-15 mph slower because youth pitchers don’t throw as hard as MLB pitchers. A change up 12-15 mph less than a 65 mph fastball is a 23% difference (!) in speed. That’s way too much.

So instead of applying a mph difference between fastballs and change ups, I recommend you apply a % difference of 15%-16%. By doing the math, that youth pitcher throwing a 65 mph fastball should be throwing his change up about 55-58 mph. I might dial back the percentage difference between fastballs and change ups even more to 10% for youth pitchers.

I’d be curious what others think, too.


#4

Steve, How would you reccomend taking speed off the ball without slowing down his arm speed?


#5

It comes down to grip and mechanics/arm action.

Check out this thread on Let’s Talk Pitching, and this web page on my youth pitching site, for tips on teaching and throwing a good change up:

http://youthpitching.com/grips.html


#6

Is it possible that he’s getting no real difference in speed because of his hand size? Perhaps he’s choking the fastball as much as his changeup because his fingers aren’t long enough and strong enough to grip the fastball properly. I really like what Steven says about the percentage vice the speed delta for youth. Makes a lot of sense.


#7

Hand size is often the issue in young kids. Like OC said, they often throw their fastball with a grip the is really a change-up grip (usually a 3-finger grip or a palm ball grip).

However, there are two ways to take something off the pitch: using a grip the uses weaker fingers to throw the ball and pronating the hand/wrist/forearm. Pronation is what imparts spin on the ball and creates movement.

I’m surprised to hear you son is throwing a circle change. He is no doubt offsetting his hand to one side of the ball to pull that off. I teach cutting the ball in half with thumb and middle finger and then tucking the index finger down the side of the ball only as much as flexibility allows. No tight circle needed. Then pronate to tolerance. This seems to help control and movement.


#8

The change-up is a good pitch when all the right reasons are there, when and how to use it - regardless if we’re talking amateur or pro ball.

Here’s my take on youth baseball and the change-up:

  • I consider youth baseball to be 13 year old and younger. (that’s my take anyway.)
  • youth baseball is an experience where everyone is under some kind of learning phase, like batting, pitching, base running, and so forth.
  • It’s been my impression that this age group and classification of amateur ball has a large population of “slow” bats, from the top of the order to the bottom of the order. Now there are exceptions to be sure.

So, the pitch is a good pitch - BUT, at the youth baseball level, I don’t think the reinforcement is there to warrant adding this kind of pitch to your son’s inventory. I say this because the release and trajectory necessary to reach the plate is usually a dead giveaway, and the strike zone can be a tough target to chase, combine all that with slower bat speeds and the pitch can end up in the parking lot…

On the other hand, if your son’s coach is determined to do things his way - then that’s an issue of a different color.