High School Freshman Tryouts

Steven - Son has freshman tryouts in 10 days. Throws 77mph fastball and 68mph curve. Has very good command of both. The problem is he cannot throw a change up for strikes. He either spikes it 10’ short or throws it over the catchers head. Not pretty. We’ve tried multiple grips, pronation of wrist, slip pitch…nothing has work consistently. While he will continue to work on the change…how should we handle tyrouts when he’s asked the throw a change up. My thoughts are to tell him to throw the curve. I have visions of him attempting to throw the change and spiking it or sailing one. Concerned that will make a lasting terrible impression. Appreciate any advice. Thx

Before anyone else brings this up, you could ask him to throw change ups during long toss. That could help him with release when it comes down to pitching.

Thanks NOva. Heard that before. Thanks for reminder. Will work on it.

Have you tried the 3 finger change without burying it deep into the palm?

Is suggest trying that as he plays catch and slowly work on placing the ball deeper into his hand gradually.

Also depending on how competitive your sons HS team is the Coach should recognize and understand the fact that he is a freshman and young and still learning different pitches. Compared to a HS senior

You should handle tryouts honestly. If the kid has trouble with the change, I assure you he isn’t the only Fr in the US or even on that team who will not have a ML change. One of the main reasons for being honest, is to give the coaches some idea of what needs work. I’ll grant you that there are a lot of HS coaches who would have trouble telling the difference between a hook and a CU in a game, but you can bet that during tryouts, there’s gonna be someone who can tell the difference, and that’s if the catcher doesn’t say something.

In short, there’s nothing good that will come from trying to deceive anyone. Don’t let the boy establish himself as a player who will be seen as anything less than someone who the coaches can count on for his truthfulness and for giving his best effort, even though it may be somehow lacking.

Thanks Wales. He has recently tried the 3 finger grip. Unfortunately there’s no quick fix as we had the same results. His school is a very competitive private school with deep talent. I think he’s very much in the mix as far as his fastball and curve. Just concerned the ugly change ups will hurt his chances. At a recent parent meeting the varsity head coach said he would have pitchers throw 80 percent fastball and chageups. Thx

Thanks scorekeeper. Not trying to deceive anyone as much as I’m trying to give the kid the best shot at making team. The fact is his best off speed is his curve. The goal is to make the team. He’s a plus kid and a top student. If he’s lucky enough to be chosen…he’ll just have more time to develope a good change. Until then…he has some trepidation about throwing what is now a bad pitch during tryouts.

I don’t know if the inability to throw a change up will make or break a player when it comes to tryouts, but scorekeeper is right, if they want him to throw a change up then he should throw his change up, even if he bounces it in. A good coach is going to want players that are coach able and players that will listen, every time, not decide what he is going to listen to by throwing a curveball when he was asked to throw a change. A good coach will see that right away, then ask him again to throw a change and he throws a curve again…in his mind it will be well this guy doesn’t know the difference or worse…this guy wont listen…will he throw what I want in a game or throw something he wants to.

Next point is, what is the deal with, “how should we handle tyrouts when he’s asked the throw a change up.” There is no “we” in tryouts anymore, it’s what is “he” going to do, you don’t have any say in it anymore, if he wants to go out for the team then great, if he makes it then “he” made it, not “we”. The last thing coaches want is a meddling parent telling them what their kid should or shouldn’t do, or what they need help with, or anything. Drop him off, or let him go there himself and that is it, 5 days later he will tell you if “he” made the team…gotta let him go now, time to grow up!

Buwhite. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Point well taken. Agree this is about his ability. The “we” is about helping him prepare. After that it’s about his ability. If he’s good enough to make it then great. If he’s not…then he’ll decide if he wants to continue to work his butt off. If he does, “I” will help him in any way possible. Good parents just do that. Let’s stay focused on the real issue. What advice do you have about a pitcher struggling with throwing a change.

I thought I made the point of, if they ask him to throw one then he should throw what he considers his change up, if they ask curve then throw that. Heck if the coach said they throw 80% fastballs then they may not even ask for it. Honestly I would just want to see 5-7 fastballs from the stretch and the windup. If he throws a curve and crosses up the catcher you also don’t want it affecting that kids tryout, plus the catcher won’t be the only one who knows it’s a curve.

Thanks again buwhite. He will continue to work on it. There are no shortcuts.

I’m curious as to why a HS Fr has trouble throwing a 3 finger CU, but maybe we’re not speaking the same language. Actually, what I was envisioning for him was really a 3 fingered FB, where the forefinger and middle finger were on the ball and pretty close together, then moving the ring finger alongside the middle finger the same distance from it as the forefinger.

What it really is, is how every small child throws a ball that’s too big for his hand. IOW, it’s a “natural” grip, not a contrived one. The neat thing about it is, there’s no way to throw the ball with the same velocity as with just 2 fingers, thus making it the best reason to get kids to go to 2 fingers as soon as they can, and at the same time making it the most simple CU possible.

However, the more out on the fingertips and the close the fingers are together, the more velocity the ball will have, so what’s typical is for pitchers to “tuck” the ball back toward the palm, move the fingers further apart, or some combination of both, until they get the kind of velocity and “action” on the ball they want.

Here’s an example of what my son used in college. As you can see, its extremely exaggerated, but then again, he had 9 years to “tweak” it.


If he goes to the 3 fingered “FB”, he should have little trouble keeping it in the ball park. Even though it won’t likely be a huge velocity drop from his FB, it will be an “honest” change, and one he’ll be able to improve on as time goes by.

Good post. My kid uses almost the same grip, except with a little more pinky finger on the side of the ball.

Baseball 24x7,
Is he throwing the change with the same arm speed as his FB? If so, you may be dealing with a mental thing. The best advice, IMO, given was by scorekeeper. The three finger grip is really easy to master. Once he is comfortable with the grip, he can start adjusting the grip to get more action.

My kid started with the 3 finger grip CU and as he progressed he added the pinky to the side of the ball in order to kill more velo. It also gave him more sink on the CU. My point is, the 3 finger grip scorekeeper showed is a really nice comfortable grip for the CU. Even further its easily adjustable to suit his needs.

You have some solid advice here for your youngster. In addition, his strenght and physical maturity may be a factor, but that’ll come around.

By the way, I would take to heart what Scorekeeper suggested - and by your response, you seem right along that mindset. That’s great. Your boy will appreciate your support in this regard and it will say volumes for your insight into youth sports.

As your son gets a little older, and possibility the change-up is a pitch that’ll compliment his inventory of other pitches, I posted a few suggestions in picture form that might be informative.

Please note though, not everyone can follow this pattern of grip and delivery. In fact, I’ve coached pitchers in their late 20’s and early 30’s who couldn’t delivery a reasonable change-up if their life depended on it. I had one that would dig his heels in and swear he had a good off-speed. He’s shake off sign after sign, until out of frustration this backstop would sit there and go … " ok … give it!" So, after release, a fan had a piece of the game to take home … we gave our guy a nickname - “upper deck”.

Best wishes with your son’s baseball experience.

Coach B.

On the left is the PALM GRIP, on the right is the CIRCLE or RING FINGER GRIP

That’s the grip I was thinking of as well.

Guys - I appreciate the time and effort you have all put into your responses. I will sit down with my son tonight to review. Then we’ll start throwing. I really do think its a mental thing. As you all have said…the three finger grip should help make things easier. He can throw that as his change and tweak it as he gains confidence. Great advice… I will check back in to let you know how it goes.

Thank you

Next thing to do would be to get some video up of his fastball and change…let us look and see what is going on!