Recommended age to throw splitter?


#1

One of my pitchers was told to stop throwing his splitter because it was dangerous to his health. He’s 14 almost 15 and has a 3/4 arm angle. Is there any truth behind a certain age to throw a Splitter?


#2

The splitter requires the index finger and the middle finger the spread along the sides of the baseball, mostly following the seams running up-n-down, much like the seams on a two seam fastball. The desired effects of the pitch can vary depending on the strength of the pitcher’s grip, forearm and pitching side of the shoulder. In fact, a lot of stress is supported by the grip and pitching side shoulder, with the elbow sometimes getting lost in the motion. Like I mentioned, this pitch requires a lot of concentration and maturity.

Perhaps the youngster that you’re referring doesn’t have the muscular frame and physique to handle these stresses loads, or some other consideration, physically.

On the other hand, look at the purpose and signature of this pitch and the intended effect after release, down range to the batter. This pitch requires a lot of concentration and deliberate mind of purpose. It’s not for everyone.

I wouldn’t recommend this pitch to a youngster who’s still learning to control and locate pitches. I only say that because it’s time consuming to coach, learn and most of all being consistent with its intent and results. Most of the time with youngsters still in the develop stage of their physical maturity; use this kind of pitch as an awkward off-speed pitch.


#3

Thanks Coach Baker! As for his age, velocity wise I would consider his fastball to above average. He only throws a 4 seam and a curveball now so he dumped the splitter but he was just using as a funky spinning changeup. Just wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t hurt him.


#4

With respect to hurting this young man or not, I can’t say one way or the other. I can say that this kind of pitch must be accompanied by a lot of hands-on coaching from someone who knows the age, tolerance and physical condition of this pitcher - or any other pitcher for that matter.

I’ve had pitchers that would pick up a pitch by watching another pitcher with a great deal of success, only to find that their body’s management couldn’t handle the finesse and techniques associated with what they’re trying to master. Now I’m posting here about mature men with lots of support going into the process. I can’t even begin to associate a youngster doing the same - learning a new pitch.

Go easy with this one. You’re dealing with a lot of unknowns here and you have little if no control over this youngster, in particular his on going health, his preparation prior to showing up for practice and game time. I say all this because you have the title of “COACH”, and as such, certain expectations will be directed your way with regards to keeping these youngsters from having arm problems - regardless of the waivers that their parents/legal guardians signed.


#5

The splitter, or split-finger fastball, is a first cousin to the forkball. Unlike the forkball, the splitter is really a power pitch, and in either case I would not recommend it unless the pitcher has a King Kong-size paw, long fingers, and good command of his other stuff. I certainly would advise a pitcher to wait until the late teens to start experimenting with it, and he should get together with a really good pitching coach who can instruct him in the proper way to throw it. 8)


#6

Agree. My son, 14 going on 15, experimented with the splitter this spring, looking for a change up. He’s 3/4 slot, with a solid FB and slider. He has large hands, but wasn’t able to make it work. Felt his hands were too small. In the end, decided to go with the knuckle-curve as the change-up. I don’t see him trying again until he’s finished growing, and at that point if he’s still pitching, it will be a college coach who will teach him.


#7

Have to start over. This computer keeps jumping around like a jackrabbit on steroids.
The knuckle-curve is a pitch that can be thrown at a couple of different speeds… either at full power, like a fastball, or as a changeup, in which case the speed differential has to be more marked. It all depends on the grip and how far forward or back in the palm of the hand. I for one found it more effective as a true power pitch; at full speed it comes in there looking for all the world like a nice juicy fastball but then suddenly drops like a glass hitting the floor and splintering into little bitty pieces. But you can use it as a changeup; you still have to throw it with the fastball arm angle and arm speed! :baseballpitcher:


#8

[quote=“Zita Carno”]Have to start over. This computer keeps jumping around like a jackrabbit on steroids.
The knuckle-curve is a pitch that can be thrown at a couple of different speeds… either at full power, like a fastball, or as a changeup, in which case the speed differential has to be more marked. It all depends on the grip and how far forward or back in the palm of the hand. I for one found it more effective as a true power pitch; at full speed it comes in there looking for all the world like a nice juicy fastball but then suddenly drops like a glass hitting the floor and splintering into little bitty pieces. But you can use it as a changeup; you still have to throw it with the fastball arm angle and arm speed! :baseballpitcher:[/quote]

My son uses it as a power pitch. He does everything at full force. :ninja:


#9

In my opinion the splitter is a career saver not a career starter. Even if thrown properly it puts so much strain on the elbow. By spreading your fingers there is nothing to take the shock. It is like taking a whiffle ball and throwing it as hard as you can. Have him learn to locate the fastball and then add a change up, then as he gets older add a breaking ball. I have worked with kids that when asked they tell me they have a 4 seam, 2 seam fastball, knuckle curve, changeup and split. Then you watch them play catch and they can’t even do that. Master the 4 seam fastball first.


#10

I experimented with a splitter. I just threw it like my fast ball. It dropped some when I released it perfectly, but it was hard to release perfectly consistently. If I didn’t release it perfectly it would hang up in the strike zone and stay flat. Not exactly where I wanted it to be. I use a circle change for my change-up and it is easier for me to grip and throw accurately. My knuckle curve is my best out pitch and acts just like Zita Carno describes: “looking for all the world like a nice juicy fastball but then suddenly drops like a glass hitting the floor and splintering into little bitty pieces.” Lol.


#11

Personally, I’ve never had any issues with strain while throwing splitters, even from a 3/4, nearly sidearm release. I’m 17 years old and started throwing splitters around age 12 when an off-speed pitch became necessary. I’ve always used it as a sort of sinking changeup since I have never been able to throw a regular changeup well. In the five years I’ve thrown it, I haven’t had any arm problems due to it.

However, with regards to being able to throw it, the splitter isn’t for everyone. It requires long fingers and lots of practice. If a pitcher can’t firmly hold a splitter grip comfortably, he can’t throw it effectively. Also, it takes an exceptionally long time to master it. It took me about a year to be able to throw it with any confidence, and even now I go through stints where it is difficult to command. However, if a pitcher has the finger length and the patience to learn it, it can be a devastating off-speed pitch. If your pitcher in question has the hand for it and is willing to put in the work, I see no reason for him not to throw it as long as he doesn’t feel pain in his arm.