High School Junk


#1

What is the best way to teach a knuckle ball to a High School pitcher ?

My son is a sophmore pitches 75-80 and has a change up. And he can place the ball where he wants. I 'm just looking at optional pitches and I love the knuckle ball.


#2

Here’s my two cents on the knuckleball. It is very hard to learn to throw for strikes while retaining the movement required to keep hitters from endangering your third basemen. If you do learn to control it with good movement, you have to worry about your catcher catching it and the umpire being able to call it. With runners on base your making it easy for base runners to advance on a steal or passed ball. The motion for a KB is so different then the FB that the KBs you throw in practice will not help develop your FB and may even retard your FB. A poor KB is not really deceptive in that you can tell it is coming and since it is the most difficult off speed pitch to throw for strikes, it is not really a good pitch for an occasional change up.

It’s fun to fool around with the KB and hard to stop a kid from doing so. However, unless you are going to throw the KB most of the time I don’t think it has much place in a pitchers game day repertoire. :slight_smile:


#3

I don’t recommend the knuckle ball unless it’s a last resort.

Major League clubs don’t use the pitch unless it’s the last option for a guy before he’s released, which usually happens at the end of a guy’s career anyways. (And even then, the player has about two-to-four weeks to show he can throw it, and not a day longer.)

Tim Wakefield was a position player first, who was on his way out the door before being converted into a knuckle ball pitcher – a last resort that worked. But he’s the exception to the rule.

In the Majors, where the average pitch velocity is 87-88 mph, the knuckle is thrown at 65-68 mph. Any harder and it doesn’t knuckle. Any slower and it basically doesn’t reach the plate.

Another guy that comes to mind is a pitcher I played with in pro ball I, who was getting rocked on the mound. So Cubs brass sent him back to the Cubs Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz. to work on his knuckle ball. While there, the coaches made him throw it at 66, 67 mph. After a few weeks – when they’d done what they could with the pitch – they sent him back to a minor league team. He pitched one game, got rocked, and was released the next day.


#4

i agree with that and disagree at times. i throw in the low 80’s and i throw a lot of junk including a knuckler. i dont throw a knuckle often but it works when i throw it. you are very right in the fact that you can see it coming. the arm motion is different. the way i throw it is i put my index and middlle finger tips on the ball with my fingernails pretty much. my thumb is on the bottom and i keep my wrist very straight and snap just as i release for top spin. it dances and tumbles and rarely moves. but in highschool the knuckle ball is easy to hit. if you can hit a curve you can hit a knuck. just wait back is all they have to do. the only reason my knuck is effective is because of our infield. they hit the ball on the ground a lot. and sometimes you’ll get a guy swinging or looking on it. instead of a knuckle ball maybe try a couple of different pitches like the palm ball. it works a little. actually i throw a pitch were i put all my fingers together and keep them straight with my thumb under the ball. the grip i use is the 4 seam pretty much. when i throw it i snap my wrist a lot and the ball tumbles a lot.


#5

i think to many highschool pitchers mess with it and it does no good, i know some people are like i get people out with it and thats because usually they arent good pitchers or are just out in front. i have yet to see a knuckle ball that ever wowed me i love pitchers who mess with them they are usually balls over easy basehits if you stay back because really a small percentage of them are actually good for highschool pitchers. i would be surprised if anyone has a good consistent knuckle ball in highschool, wakefield gets absolutely rocked if his isnt working and he has alot of stretches were it doesnt work. i dont know i just think its a stupid pitch for a highschool pitcher to focus on and like ellis said it should be a last resort


#6

[quote=“Steven Ellis”]I don’t recommend the knuckle ball unless it’s a last resort.

Major League clubs don’t use the pitch unless it’s the last option for a guy before he’s released, which usually happens at the end of a guy’s career anyways. (And even then, the player has about two-to-four weeks to show he can throw it, and not a day longer.)

Tim Wakefield was a position player first, who was on his way out the door before being converted into a knuckle ball pitcher – a last resort that worked. But he’s the exception to the rule.

In the Majors, where the average pitch velocity is 87-88 mph, the knuckle is thrown at 65-68 mph. Any harder and it doesn’t knuckle. Any slower and it basically doesn’t reach the plate.

Another guy that comes to mind is a pitcher I played with in pro ball I, who was getting rocked on the mound. So Cubs brass sent him back to the Cubs Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz. to work on his knuckle ball. While there, the coaches made him throw it at 66, 67 mph. After a few weeks – when they’d done what they could with the pitch – they sent him back to a minor league team. He pitched one game, got rocked, and was released the next day.[/quote]

That’s wrong in a few places. Some teams, such as the Red Sox for one are now drafting and developing knuckleball pitchers as they would any other pitcher, due in large part to the success of Wakefield. The actual optimal speed for a knuckleball to move is about 72 MPH, and it can start moving at as low as 45-50 MPH. The reason a lot of knuckleballers aren’t any good until they’re older is that it takes a LONG time working with the pitch to perfect it. If started in high school, and worked on as any other pitch, a knuckleball can be very effective.


#7

And who were the specific knuckleballers who were drafted?


#8

i think he should try a knucklecurve :smiley:


#9

First a knucklecurve is just a variation on the curveball grip. Nothing really special there. Second, as a high school player I find that every pitcher I have faced who threw a knuckleball was crap and the only reason they may get someone out is because they hit a spot with it every now and then.

Most people’s knuckleball in high school is just a regular pitch with less spin and they can’t control the way it spins so it breaks a little every now and then. Since my hamstring injury I have been throwing knuckleballs when I warm up just because I can. And just because I have an addiction to wikipedia, I looked up the reason why balls break and the reason why knuckleballs break the way they do is because when a spherical object is thrown with no spin the drag goes directly against the ball and the ball is being pushed in different directions giving it the break. The harder it is thrown with no spin the more it will break and to a greater degree. The break on a knuckleball is similar to what you see when you toeblow a soccer ball and it doesn’t spin.

The reason people throw it slow is because any harder and they have to start breaking their wrist and twisting their body which gives the ball a greater chance of spinning. So if you are trying to throw a knuckleball don’t do so in a game until you can consistantly take the spin off.


#10

I remember when I thought it would be fun to try a knuckleball. I couldn’t do it, because I had a sharp, karate-chop-style wrist snap on the curve (which, by the way, came attached to my natural sidearm delivery)—but I discovered that there was such a thing as a knuckle-curve, so I picked that up and worked around with it and added it to my repertoire. The way my knuckle-curve behaved: it would come in there looking for all the world like a fast ball and then suddenly drop like a glass hitting the floor. I found that I could change speeds on it, yummy! and so I did. It became my second-best pitch; the first, which I learned at age 16, was old Filthy McNasty—a slider with a sharp late break—and I built my repertoire around those two pitches.
What was really funny was when I discovered the crossfire (I was a natural sidearmer)—I fell so in love with that delivery I wound up using it all the time, and it gave me twice as many pitches: a fact which was not lost on my pitching coach. One day he was helping me with the circle change, and he said, “I know you’re going to crossfire it. You use that move with everything you throw.” I did, and I won a lot of games as a starter and rescued quite a number of them as a reliever. Fun. 8)


#11

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4997272

and practice…LOTS of practice.