Finger Pressure and how to implement it

Jay over on the Maddux thread suggested this.
My take on where the capability to manipulate the ball and produce late fastball movement comes into effect is this. I believe though there may be exceptions who can do it earlier, when I have seen pitchers develop the idea they can get the ball to move based on grip orientation and finger pressure is after puberty, when they get dexterious to the point in which they can throw a real change-up. By real, I mean fastball arm action and delivery, not the slowing of the motion you generally see in the earlier years. Usually when you see them understand the theory behind the change and it’s ability to devestate in the high school ranks, they commit to it, or more simply they understand that they have to develop it. This is the point generally where I’ve seen guys begin to understand the nuanced fastball varient pitches like the cutter and sinker…Maddux’s expertise is here. He’s got such understanding of the nuance that he can accuartely understand that if he grips with pressure x on ball location y, the ball will locate in spot z. Taking it even further, if you understand weather and air density you can know when a nuanced pitch will be more or less effective, like knowing that throwing in Colorado and Arizona you are getting less movement due to air pressure so its more important to vary speed, conversely in humid Atlanta and Huston you’ll get a cutter or sinker to jink really nice in the heavy humid air.
My son has developed outstanding late moving pitches, he’s done it by becoming an excellent change-up pitcher…and monkeying with it when playing catch, he works them actively in his bullpens…some pens are exclusive 2 seam bullpens. Significantly it’s IMO the combination of working it into his playing catch…just goofing and seeing where and how he can get movement via experimentation that started it and believing enough once it got started, to use it in game situations. Now he’s confident enough to use them in any count or situation.

True dat JD. The change is such a “feel pitch”, the more reps and experimenting that you can experience the better prepared you will be on the mound. Should be a standard part of any game of catch…

I think “life” on a fastball comes from the very end of the throw–that last whip, or what might be called finishing a pitch. The type of life on a pitch depends on the pitcher–sometimes its sink (Maddux, Webb), sometimes it’s cut (Rivera), and sometimes it’s straight but it looks like it explodes at the hitter (Papelbon–his 95 plays a lot faster).

Everyone likes to cite guys like Maddux, Moyer, and Glavine for how slow they throw, but I guarantee that their 85 mph looks a lot harder than an average HS 85. It’s because of their hand speed and whip at the end of the pitch. Even better with those guys, their change ups exhibit the same hand speed.

Thank you jdfromfla for creating this thread. I’d love to see where this will go. Finger pressure is a very interesting subject, and I think that it’s a healthy separation from the “How to throw hard” threads that dominates baseball forums. Not that throwing hard is bad, but learning how to develope command and control is also a very important aspect of pitching.

That said, I have dabbled with finger pressure last year. Of course this usually happens after watching Greg Maddux pitch. I myself cannot throw hard, so I’ve always looked up to Maddog for inspiration. Anways, althought I don’t compete anymore (ya school and work will do that to ya :wink: ) whenever I can I do go outside and toss the ball at the net a bit. I naturally have a cutting motion on my ball. It sinks down an in to a righty (I’m a lefty). I have been working on increasing my velocity all of last year, and have noticed that I don’t get that sinking motion anymore.

This leads me to two theories on why that is:
1: velocity is effecting how much my ball breaks
2: Throwing harder is somehow changing my arm angle and delivery

I don’t believe that it is my first theory. I mean, I only throw 78 (ya, pretty weak huh) when I hurl the fastball lol. Surely, it shouldn’t deminish the break on my fastball as drastically as before I attempted to throw “hard.” I believe the second theory is what’s causing such straight movement on my fastball. Somewhere, somehow I’m not getting to the right “place” when delivering my pitch.

That little anecdote did have a little meaning. I believe that the first step to develope finger pressure skills is to have a consistent delivery. Everything comes from the feet up in pitching, and with focussing on finger pressure this is no exception. Anyways, with my changeup I get the decrease in speed as well as a break of about 1 ft. I throw a circle change. I rest the first joint (the one below the tip of the finger) on the seems and throw it with my fastball arm speed. I’ll try to take some photos of what I’m talking about so you all can see what I mean. I find it a lot easier to control it that way and the break just seems to be a nice bonus.

This brings me to my second point. Does finger pressure mean how much direct pressure you put on the ball or how much indirect pressue you put on it? What I mean is, do you really need to apply pressure on the ball, or will the placement of your fingers suffice? With my changeup using my joints to “hold onto” the ball is enough to get the break. Keeping the ball closer to my palm diminishes the speed due to friction. In this case I haven’t applied any pressure at all besides the pressue to hold onto the ball. Are there any cases where you need to push down or pinch the ball to have an effect?

Another example of finger pressure that I’ve recently heard is to use your thumb as a rudder. Placing your thumb on the bottom of the ball and slightly to one side or another is said to have a movement effect on the ball. Of course I got this information from the Baseball Tonight cast, so please PLEASE take it with a grain of salt. If anyone else have heard of this, please feel free to elaborate.

To sum my post up I had three basic ideas on finger pressure.

  1. Consistent delievery is the first step to implementing good finger pressure skills.
  2. Using joints of your fingers to “hold onto” the ball
  3. Using your thumb as a sort of rudder to move the ball left or right

What do you all think? And sorry for the freakishly long post.