Change Up

I coach a 10 year old traveling team. I have worked with my pitchers on developing a change up for the past two years. Unfortunately, their hands are still a little bit too small to get enough velocity off the pitch to make it effective. I’ve been told by a couple of local college pitching coaches to have the pitcher try to drag their toe when throwing a change up. I had my pitchers try this, and it really seemed to help decrease the velocity on their change up.

Is dragging the back foot a reasonable method of decreasing velocity for a change up? Are there any problems with this?

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

I would think that dragging the foot would cause a actual change in mechanics, which has been mentioned that every pitch should be mechanically the same. Don’ t want to start bad habits :). Just have them throw at about 80 to 90 percent instead of 100%. Also with this method you can have them throw it a little higher in the stike zone, the low velocity will cause it to sink just in time to for it to go over the plate for a strike. Another variation would be it comes in looking like a strike but then sinks at the plate causing them to swing over the ball. I was the pitching coach for my son’s 9-10 yr old team and it worked out well.

“Just this past weekend my 10 yr old son pitched in an AAU game. He didn’t have his good fastball ( he was very tired because he had just finished playing both ways in a Pop Warner football game), but he started throwing the best change up I’ve ever seen for a 10 yr old! During his wind up and delivery, even I couldn’t tell what was coming. He started the ball belt high and it literally “fell off the table”. I don’t know if he just got lucky or he finally understands how to throw it, but it was a thing of beauty.”

I posted the above last night in another part of this forum. My son is not big (nor are his hands), but throws a great change up. I asked him tonight if he used the “circle change” (he liked the picture a lot and wanted to try and throw it). However, he told me his hand was too small, so he just simply throws a “palm” ball and shortens his stride (actually, he doesn’t push off as hard…which shortens his stride) and keeps everything else mechanically the same. For added effect, he sometime gives a nasty looking grimmace like he is about to throw with everything he’s got. Like Coach Dad said, my son starts the pitch about belly button high and it just drops off the table. He told me that the way he holds the ball requires him to keep his arm speed up just to get the ball to the plate. So I guess, in his case, it is the grip that does the work.

I have heard of the dragging the foot method in throwing a good changeup, but as was posted before you do need to watch for bad habits. We have a few kids here who drag their foot and at these levels (which I know is a lot different than 10yr olds) hitters really sat on the mechanical change. Also with the dragging the foot you got to watch and make sure they dont do that on their fastball because if they do then they are really decelerating their body and have their arm do all the throwing which isnt good for the elbow or shoulder.

Would I would try is have them throw a palm ball, even with the smallest hands try and have them tuck the ball as far back in their hand as they can and just throw it like a fastball. Being tucked back so far it should decrease velocity. I have also heard of a 3 finger fastball which can serve as a hybrid changeup

Another super weekend for the Change Up experience. My 9yr old (10:U) son pitched a beautiful game this past weekend and of the 6 strikeouts he recorded in 4 innings of work, 5 of 6 third strikes were on change ups! With every passing game, I am a big believer in the change up. Especially at this age, no curve balls are needed. Disrupting timing with a change up is a thing of beauty!


One of the nice things about the CU is that you don’t have to strike guys out with it. 4thGen threw 6 innings last spring where he had 14 ground ball outs. Many of them on the first or second pitch and many induced by his “Vulcan Splitter” CU. Many times you don’t want the hitter to swing and miss on the CU, you want him to swing and miss the sweet spot of the bat. Although defense in 10U can’t be counted on to turn two hop ground balls into outs, it is good to get your son thinking about working effciently. :smiley:

3rd G:

You’re right! My defense is not bad for 10:U…but I’ll take a strike out over a ground ball when I can get it! :slight_smile:

ya know when those kids get to a higher level that might not work. as a batter i watch a pitcher in warm ups. if he doesnt drag his toe it means something. then if all of a sudden he drags his toe when iam watching i know its a changeup. higher levels pick up on stuff like that. just have them throw the circle change with it buried in their hand. It should work really good just like that. and with the toe drag it could catch to much one time and really screw up the pitch

3rd gen, what in :twisted: is a “Vulcan splitter”? I don’t care about the mechanics, but the name is cool enough that it might help me to convince my 11yo to start working on his CU for next season.

I agree that getting ground balls has a lot of benefits, like keeping teammates in the game. My son wasn’t the best pitcher on his team this summer, but he was accurate and kept the ball low and outside, and so he had a lot of ground outs and pop ups to the right side, and his teammates appreciated the action. I hate seeing 12U games that are just strikeout wars between two oversized kids, with the only runs scoring when these behemoths walk too many batters. Batters are frustrated and the fielders (and parents) get bored. Go in and out at the corners with a couple of decent fastballs and hope they miss or foul them off, then throw a change-up and see where they hit it with their protect-the-plate swings.

My question about a good palm ball or circle changeup is exactly where on the hand you release it. I’ve played with several styles, and found that if I can release it off my middle (“knocking”) knuckles with my fingers extended (so my fingertips don’t make contact), I take just the right amount of speed off. It’s hard to control, but then again I don’t throw it much. Would this work for 12yo’s?

Funny you should mention the “cool factor” as being important. 4thGen picked up the “Vulcan Splitter” because it is what Gagne throws. Just think of Spock’s, Live long and prosper sign from Star Trek, then grip the ball with the horseshoe forward and the ball between the ring and middle finger. It helps if you have long fingers. I’ve never taught it but once 4thGen convinced me he could throw if for strikes I’ve left him alone with it. His tends to move quite a bit down and in to right handers, down and away from lefties. :slight_smile:

I’ve always thought that you might cause yourself some arm trouble by dragging your back foot, because what seems to happen is that your arm is decelerated early and sometimes dramatically by the toe drag, and can result in shoulder pulls and strains.
I might have then increase pressure on the ball with their thumb, and this sometimes will give you a nice drop in rotation which can add a lot of drop to the ball. Give it a shot and maybe let me know if it works for you! :slight_smile:

[quote]Funny you should mention the “cool factor” as being important. 4thGen picked up the “Vulcan Splitter” because it is what Gagne throws. Just think of Spock’s, Live long and prosper sign from Star Trek, then grip the ball with the horseshoe forward and the ball between the ring and middle finger. It helps if you have long fingers. I’ve never taught it but once 4thGen convinced me he could throw if for strikes I’ve left him alone with it. His tends to move quite a bit down and in to right handers, down and away from lefties.[/quote]3rd Gen, you’ve just added to the cool factor by noting that Gagne throws it. How far back in his hand does 4thGen hold it? Where does he release it off his hand? If it’s moving, I assume he’s putting a bit more pressure on the ring and middle finger side.

Dragging the back foot worked for me and I always believe my change-up was my best pitch. It never messed with my mechanics and hitters wouldn’t pick up on it because they are focused on my release point and not the toe.

Like someone mentioned, little leaguers may want to work on a modified circle change or something resembling a palm ball to compensate for their smaller hands.

Hehe you dug up a post from 2005. Must have got carried away with the site for your first few posts. Happens :lol: :lol:

I only see a few problems with this. One is that this will easily tip off the pitch, as a batter every1 looks for a diffrance between the fastball and the the change up and all other pitches. So if I where a batter and saw the foot drag I would know it was a change up and wait on it. Also this could be a problem for the over all machanics when your pitchers hands do get big enough and the grip alone will be enough. This could become habit and be problematic in the future.

Ay, there’s the rub. I can think of few things worse than a pitcher telegraphing his stuff. I’ve seen this happen time and again at all levels—for example, a pitcher will position his glove one way for a fast ball and another way for a curve. Or this dragging-the-toe business that has been discussed here. Or a pitcher failing to conceal his grip adequately, and the opposing first base coach or a runner on second can read the grip and relay the information to the batter—“here comes a changeup” or whatever. Any of these things happen, the batter swings, blam, over the fence it goes!
I will never forget the first piece of advice Ed Lopat gave me: “Be sure to use a big enough glove so the opposition can’t read your pitches. Some of your stuff has distinctive grips.” Being a snake-jazz pitcher, I threw a lot of assorted breaking stuff at such different speeds as I was able to muster; I wasn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination and thus had to rely on control and deception to get the batters out. Steady Eddie told me about the time when Whitey Ford first came up to the Yankees, and in one game he was getting belted from here to timbuktu and back—and it was Tommy Henrich who told him that the other team’s first-base coach was calling all the pitches, which made Ford aware that he might be tipping his pitches. In a bullpen session the next day Lopat spotted the problem at once and showed Whitey how to correct it.
Lopat also told me that just about any pitch could be turned into a nice changeup, and he demonstrated a few such for me. The secret is the grip—you can use different ones, but you have to throw everything with the same arm motion and the same arm speed for a change to be effective, and never mind the other stuff. 8)

i find that the circle changeup works very well. i grip it with my middle and ring finger on the horseshoe, pinky on the side and a “chicago bears” c made with the index finger and thumb use the fastball arm action and a righthander will have the ball sink down and in on a righty down and out on a lefty

Kids from my son’s 10U Tournament Team use the knuckle-curve as the change up. Even if it doesn’t “drop” out when it gets to the plate, it works well as a change in speed and usually keeps the fat part of the bat off of the pitch. For it to be effective, the pitcher should maintain arm speed and it’s the grip that’s produces the change in speed. Like Jamie Moyer, a hanging knuckle-curve can produce the long ball.

My son added the knuckle curve in his last game and the ball dropped about 18" when it got to the plate. He also added a “slider” (slider grip, fast ball release) in his last game to counter his 2-seamer, and although it’s not a true slider, it changes the rotation of the ball (pitch spins away from the hitter instead of into the RH hitter) as well as slows the pitch down.

BTW, for him, the circle change is to hard to throw. He doesn’t feel comfortable with the grip.

A lot of people who don’t have a large enough hand will have some trouble with the circle change. I remember when I told my pitching coach I was having some difficulties with it, and he took one look at the grip I was using and told me right off that my hand wasn’t quite large enough to form the complete circle. He suggested an alternative grip—a backwards “c” on one side of the ball—and he also said I should move the middle and ring fingers closer together. I tried it, and it worked for me.
The trick with the slider is simply to ease up on the wrist action. As my coach told me, “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it.” As I threw my curve with a sharp karate-chop wrist action, what I needed to do was simply ease up on it—turn it over, so to speak. And that too worked for me.
If your kid is having success with the knuckle-curve, good for him. He could also add a palm ball to his collection of changeups, and he’d be all set. 8)

i have large hands and i am 12 so i guess thats y i had success with it