Grip and Ball Spin

Curious how much changing the grip affects the spin on the ball. My son’s slider (supposed be a FB with a slider grip) spins counter-clockwise, when viewed from the catching position. He follows it up with the knuckle-curve (index finger only) that spins clockwise. Both pitches are thrown with the same speed, and break at the same time and about the same amount - which is not much at 46.5’ but 4" or so at 55’. The pitches appear to mirror each other.

It seems that to get this effect he may be intuitively rolling his wrist counter-clockwise on the slider and clockwise with the knuckle-curve. I’ve thought about this a lot since the last few bullpen sessions and it’s the best explanation I can think of. I woudn’t expect the amount of spin without rolling the wrist.

Is something else going on?

A pitcher can get movement left or right just depending on finger pressure, so obviously he is getting the action from finger pressure. On his knuckle curve since he is throwing the beginners curve or spike curve he probably is in fact turning the ball over vs throwing that action like a FB and that is where he is getting the action from.

I would consider that since your son is younger you might consider a true knuckle curve throw like a fastball, pm me if you would like to talk about it more.

It sounds like he’s in fact rolling his wrist to get the clockwise rotation.
Why is he throwing a curve and slider at 14? Not judging just seems to be overkill, IMHO.

[quote=“Turn 22”]It sounds like he’s in fact rolling his wrist to get the clockwise rotation.
Why is he throwing a curve and slider at 14? Not judging just seems to be overkill, IMHO.[/quote]

The slider grip he developed. We experimented with it two-years ago as a strike out pitch against good LH hitters. His two-seamer had incredible movement, breaking in on the hand of the RH hitter. The slider seemed like a good alternative to come inside on a LH hitter. Last year he played with it more, and now he feels very comfortable and commands it very well. I’m not really sure if it is a slider, but it acts just like one so I have to assume it is. The knuckle-curve is the off-speed he feels most comfortable with, although it’s thrown with the same velocity as the slider. The palm and circle change he doesn’t like. The intent is to throw these pitches with the same action as his FB, only changing the grip.

My son throws a nasty knuckle curve and to me it seems most of the rotation on it comes from flicking his middle and pointer finger when he throws it. His breaks down way more than to either side.

There is a big difference between a true knuckle curve and a spike curve, when you throw a spike there is a definite action of turning the wrist and the elbow over in order to get the rotation. There is no issue to throwing this type of curve if it’ throw properly. A knuckle curve uses 2 finger knuckled up and gets the action by flicking the fingers forward and not rotating the arm.

The slider is a velocity pitch. It is normally just a little slower than the fastball. If your son’s slider has about the same velocity as his curve, then he is definitely doing something to reduce velocity - like rolling the wrist.

Regarding the change-up, I would encourage your son to continue working on it. Frank Cruz, head baseball coach at USC was asked what he looks for in pitchers. He said the first thing he looks for is a good change-up. :wink:

I remember the the first time I saw Strasburg throw his knuckle-curve for 92. It was unbelievable. I didn’t know one could be thrown that hard. My son’s KC is similar. For his age it’s thrown very hard and at the same velocity as the slider. What worries me is my concern he’s putting to much stress on his shoulder and or elbow at too early of an age.

Thanks. I read the same thing and know it’s important.

An update:

My son is very excited about this season and being the big boy on campus. 1st outing was three perfect innings with 8 Ks.

I learned something about his grip this week while catching his bullpen session. His ball was having incredible action, so as we’re talking about what causes his ball to move, and he shows me how he rotates the ball through his fingers, in essence spinning the ball with his fingers as he releases. So it’s not in the wrist but in the fingers.

And in his words, “That’s what makes his pitches special. It’s not the speed. It’s the movement.”