Grips for 9 Year Old Lefty


My 9 year old lefty is throwing really well in Little League Minors. He’s had three consecutive terrific outings, and right now he’s clearly the best pitcher on the team.

That said, I think I need to work on his grips. Or maybe not? Maybe I should leave well enough alone?

Well, here goes . . .

Four Seam Fastball

He holds the four seam fastball essentially with four fingers. If he holds the ball toward your face (remember he’s a lefty), you see the index finger at 11:00, the middle finger at 1:00, the ring finger at 5:00, and the thumb at 7:00.

We have discussed this before here, and the advice was that as long as the middle finger and thumb bisect the ball - and at 1:00 and 7:00 they do - the grip is fine, especially for a young pitcher with small hands.

My question is whether I should try to get his thumb more under the ball and push his ring finger off to the side? And is this even feasible for a 9 year old, or do their small hands require the two fingers under the ball?

I ask because his fastball often has a spin that makes it move into a right handed batter, and I’d like to see more backward rotation. A respected pitching coach told me almost all lefties his age throw with this spin and movement, and I should leave it alone. True?

Change Up

He throws a three finger change up, across the seams, but throws it nearly as hard as his fastball. There’s little “change” in speed, and he really needs a slower change up.

Any suggestions? Should he palm the ball more? Is the circle change feasible for 9 year old hands?


My advice comes from having a 10 yo. I would not change his grips until after spring ball. Then add a circle change and work on the fastball grip. A circle change is a tougher change for a kid to learn, but for my son it has some dirty movement. The palm ball and three finger never seemed to move much for him.

I agree that the three-finger change is a tough pitch to really get to work. (It never was super effective for me although I did throw it early on.) But the circle change up might be tricky because I’ve found it requires slightly bigger hands to throw it well. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try the grip, though - that’s the grip I used in college and pro ball and it was AWESOME for me.

Steve, I remember when I tried the circle change and I was having trouble with it. When I told Ed Lopat about it, he took one look at the grip and told me that my hand wasn’t quite large enough to form the complete circle—the “OK” sign—and he suggested that I use a half-circle—the backwards “c”—and also a more off-center grip, with the middle and fourth fingers close together the way I would use my index and middle fingers for the slider. I tried it, and voila, I had my circle change! So, perhaps some alteration of the grip would work for some pitchers who have trouble with it. 8)

Thanks. I’ll try Zita’s suggestion on the Circle Change and see what happens. If his hands are too small, I guess that leaves the three finger change up. I believe spreading the three fingers should slow the pitch up.

I’d appreciate any input on my four seam fastball questions. Thanks.

Grip sounds fine, but the 4 seam fastball isn’t about making the ball move but to get the most control out of it.

Here is a great view of 4 seamer, for the lefty just turn the horseshoe of the ball the other way and grip it the same.

I also dont agree that this is the way “all lefties” throw, the 2 seamer should get run in on a lefty and the 4 seamer shouldn’t move a lot since the pitch is about hitting a certaing spot. Sounds like if the he is getting his 4 seam to run in on a righty then he is putting pressure on the middle finger and getting some cutter action to it.

Thanks Bu. A cutter, due to the pressure of the middle finger. Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that; but that’s how his four seam moves.

My concern, or question, is whether he should have more backspin on the four seam? If I move his thumb more “under” the ball (like in that photo you posted), there would be more backspin. But do 9 year olds really hold the four seam with the thumb truly “under” the ball? Or do they hold it like I described above, with four fingers at the 11:00, 1:00, 5:00, and 7:00 positions?

Ok, I saw that part of the question and just skipped it sorry, the backspin is created by snapping the wrist down and across the right knee, ending with the thumb on his left hand down, this should create the rotation you are looking for. I think your grip sounds good so don’t adjust right now, but your description of the rotation tells me he might be pushing the ball a little.

Might want to get some video up too, you never know what can be seen from that.

I took my 9 year old son out today to throw a bullpen and had him practice the circle change, albeit due to his small hands it was Zita’s version, the “C” change (as he’s a lefty it’s a real “C”, not a backward “C”). And it seemed to work remarkably well. It was definitely slower that his fastball (unlike his three finger change), and it had a nice drop as it neared the plate. Looking forward to practicing it some more and using it in games.

south paw, sounds like he is well on his way to throwing a good change up, good luck!