Eliminating side spin on fastball

My 11 year old son has been working hard on his pitching mechanics. He has great form and throws the ball with good velocity. The one problem I cannot seem to break him of is putting side spin on his fastball. No matter how much I work with him to keep his fingers on top of the ball and to push downwards with backspin on the ball, it generally comes out side spinning. In some cases he gets pretty good movement on the ball (slider), but I don’t want him doing that. Having thrown out my arm with too many breaking balls as a youth, I’m very concerned about the same thing happening to him. Does anyone know of a drill or device that would help me with this problem? Thanks!

You are correct to be concerned.

The first thing I would do is look at your son’s grip and make sure that thumb and middle finger cut the ball in half. If he lets the thumb creep up the side of the ball towards the index finger, that can create a tendency to supinate the hand/wrist at release.

Another thing you can do is to take a baseball draw a black ring or put a piece of black tape around the center of the ball. Have your son grip the ball using a fastball grip with the index and middle fingers centered over the black line. Then have him try to throw the ball so the black line stays stays centered and doesn’t spin or wobble. The line won’t stay vertical unless your son has an over-the-top arm slot. Instead, the line should be tilted to match the arm slot.

Had somewhat of a breakthrough this evening working with my son. I put a black ring (sharpie line) around the ball and watched how it rotated when he threw the ball. Still was spinning when he threw it regular. I asked him to put all 5 fingers on the ball and throw it like a palm ball. He got good backspin rotation on it. When I had him throw the 4 seam fastball, sidespin appeared again. Then, I had him throw a split finger fastball and there wasn’t sidespin. So, I guessed it was something with his fingers. Started moving his fingers to the left side of the ball with his middle finger over the middle of the ball. This started to straighten out the spin. Am going to continue having him throw it this way for a while and start moving his grip back to a normal fastball grip. Hopefully this will work. It definitely is already 100% better.

tell him to keep his wrist stiff

stiff wrist on fastball? worst advice ever.

have any better advice?

Yeah, don’t listen to advice!


This sounds like a doctor prescribing something for the symptoms while not treating the disease. :wink:

One drill I used to do for my son and teammates was to have them get on one knee, place their throwing-arm elbow in their glove, and toss to a teammate using only the forearm. Watch and demonstrate how the forearm comes out, down, and then pronates after release (AFTER release or he’s throwing a screwgie instead of a slider…). This will help create muscle memory. They progress from that to, while still on their knees, turning the shoulders so their front shoulder faces the teammate and to rotate into the throw, again at slow temp and pronating after release. After that, they stand and do it again, starting with elbow in mitt. This time you progress all the way to step and throw, again with pronation after release. This was a standard warm up for the team, and they complained sometimes because it was boring, but it was effective, too.

Another method is backward-chaining. Start by teaching the player where he ends up, and then work progressively back to the beginning.
In this method, you would start with his arm loose at his knee (opposite knee to pitching hand), head up looking at target, both legs on the ground (with more weight on post leg) and glove low or in the fielding position, and move from there to the next previous move in the chain.
The moment just after release is important here to reinforce his pronation. Then the release point, possibly the most critical part of the delivery, out front and with fingers in proper position behind and “on top” of the ball. Show and explain the proper release, and how it will mean faster fastballs and more success.

If you understand the progression of pitching mechanics, you can figure out the reverse-progression of the backward-chaining method. Its been shown to be the most effective method of teaching athletic skills.

The Hose

try throwing a roll of athletic tape placing the index and middle fingers on top and the thumb tucked under the bottom. if they release it off the end of the fingers it will spin smoothly backwards. this worked nice when my guy was little.