Finding a consistent and effective change-up

I’ve tried quite a few variations of the change-up over time. Rarely do I ever use it in a game anymore- whatever grip i use, they have never come comfortably to me (from circle, to straight, to splitter). They either never find the zone, or too much of it. I’ve pretty much relied on my fastballs and curveballs, and a very good slider that I’m just afraid to throw too much of. I’d really like to have a change-up that just feels smooth out of the hand. I’ve had good success with the fastball/curve combo, but I know that if I could locate my change up like my fastball, it would be a great weapon.

You say you have a very good slider, but at the same time you say you’re afraid to throw it too much. If ever there was a contradiction in terms, that’s it. Now let me ask you—just why is it you’re afraid to use it?

It is harmful to the elbow. I hadn’t had a sore elbow until I gave in and used it quite a few times in a game, that game being in May. My elbow still feels tight now, its been a week or two(that was the last game I’ve thrown, too). I’m going to let my arm rest and heal, then use my summer team as a way to develop my change up and sinker. Not to say I will never use my slider again, but I would like to limit its use, as I don’t feel its necessary when you also have a good curve.

There have been many contradictory observations about the slider and whether or not it is, as you say, harmful to the elbow. When I played—many moons ago—I learned to throw it at the age of 16, and in a very short while it became my strikeout pitch. Maybe the fact that I threw sidearm exclusively had something to do with it, but I never had any problems.
You don’t say how old you were when you tried to learn that pitch—maybe it was too soon, I don’t know, but I believe there’s a minimum age at which one should try to work up such pitches. Okay. Now, as far as a changeup is concerned—here’s an interesting point to ponder. My pitching coach, an active major league pitcher, told me once that just about any pitch can be turned into a good changeup. It has to do with the grip—you loosen up on it—and with holding the ball further back in your hand. For example, the palm ball, which I acquired at an earlier age than the slider. Now, I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of, so I threw the palm ball like a curve. I also picked up a knuckle-curve (and I do believe that Mike Mussina picked his up the same way; like me, he couldn’t do anything with a plain knuckleball because of that sharp wrist action you use when throwing a curve). One thing to remember—you have to throw everything with the same arm motion and the same arm speed.
So go ahead, experiment—you’re likely to find something that will work for you as a changeup—and don’t worry about the slider. Incidentally, my coach, when he showed me how to throw it, said “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it.” That was all he said—and I got the hang of it fairly quickly, no trouble at all (except for the batters who struck out trying to get a piece of it!). It became my best pitch, the one I could go to when I had to go for the strikeout. Maybe later on… 8)

as zita said, you can use any pitch as a changeup, as long as it has fastball armspeed but is going a few miles per hour slower. i use a curve as a change, just choke it and throw it with fast armspeed, that way if it doesnt break it still upsets the hitters timing. So far that has worked for me. if i need a strikeout pitch i will speed up the curve and it acts more like a slider. just experiment in your summer ball league and you should be good for next season in school.

I’m 17, starting throwing the slider at 17.

you probably throw it wrong because 17 is old enough

Well if you’re body’s not used to it, then abruptly throwing it too much can put an unnatural feeling of strain on the elbow. I know how to throw it correctly, the movement and swings of other batters are evident enough. And enough with the slider, that is to be used at my own discretion, thank you.