Painting half of a ball black, thoughts? Experiences?

So I took some black enamel, masked off a ball and painted exactly one half of it black. Now, for my 2 seam variants, I can see exactly how well I’m staying behind the ball and how tilted the axis of it’s rotation is. The idea is that when throwing a two seam or variants there of, you don’t want to see the black and white flutter in flight. You want to see the two distinct halves.

This really helped me to gauge my sinker and cutter. I messed around with all kinds of different cutter grips before I found one I liked. The half black ball really helped me to do this. The deciding factor for the grip I chose was the tilt of the axis, comfort and command. I ended up going with an overloaded four seam type grip. The horse shoe forms a backwards “C” with my index and middle fingers straddling it. The way I painted the ball makes it specific to working with only a two seam grip. Surprisingly, with the overloaded four seam, I saw distinct black and white halves and awesome axis tilt.

This tactic helped me refine a pitch. I’d love to hear anyone else’s experiences with painting half of a ball like this.

I’ve got about a dozen balls marked up in different ways that my son and I have experimented with over the years.

Here’s an early video I took of his 4-seam FB: The stripe on the ball basically accents the equator and helps to show that the spin axis from his side-arm slot is vertical. Sorry about the graininess of the video, like I said it was one of early experiments, maybe two years ago or so.

By the way, I suggest using a large Sharpie pen to mark balls. Enamel paint changes the texture of the ball surface too much, kinda slicks it up on the painted parts.

You and your catcher can also study your slider, if you have one, by marking the poles of the ball’s spin axis with a “+” or a darkened circle.

Here’s the slider, recorded during the same session:

That’s a cool idea. I’ve never heard of that. How do you get feedback? Do you just rely on the person you’re throwing to, or do you need a hi-def camera to see the rotation?


Painting half the ball will def. help you see the kind of spin you are putting on the baseball. It should go without saying that the type of rotation is the most important aspect of a pitch. I would venture to say though that it is important to not get too bogged down a on the spin of the pitch and not take time to look at the action of the pitch itself.

Depending on the pitch you are throwing, it is possible to “overthrow” a pitch to the point where it might look as if it is spinning correctly but in reality has very little movement. (Obviously, some of the best pitches only move slightly, but I think it bares mentioning so that you don’t get too focused on just one part of the equation).

Also, its important to understand what you are looking for on the painted baseball…for example, a properly thrown sinker or cutter will likely not show just show one color (depending on how your ball in colored). But you should be able to pick up the axis on which the ball is turning as mentioned earlier.

As a knuckleballer one thing I’ve done a lot of is actually making dime sized dots on the ball all over and this helps me see how much or how little spin is there, if I see the same dot the whole way I know it’s good but if I see other dots I know I’ve just tossed up a birthday gift.

That’s basically what I do, Pustulio. I use it for my cutter, Coach Baker calls this dialing the ball.


The slider video was awesome!

My catcher is also a pitcher so some days we have what I call “slider battles”. We try to see how much our sliders can throw off the other person and get them to miss catching it. During our slider battles we often ask, “how was the eye on that one?” What you demonstrated in the video would make slider battles a bit easier in the way of feedback. BTW my catcher throws a spike slider. It’s wicked but he hasn’t got total command of it yet. Every once in while he’ll throw one and I’m just amazed. Slider battles have really helped us come along with that pitch though.

Oh…and I can see you’ve tried the enamel route. It’s ok for me at this point because the ball’s been rather scuffed and I try to throw the pitches off of the non enamel side. However, the sharpie thing makes way more sense and I can’t believe I haven’t thought of that. The slickness was definitely irritating at first.

Brandon: You should be able to look up and see what the ball is doing. Just make sure to use black. The color contrast should make it easy enough for attaining feedback. No hi tech toys needed. That’s the beauty of it.

Pustulio: Do you have/can you post any pics of this technique? I’m quite interested in this. I know two knucklers (one’s my catcher) who’d be very very interested.