Splitter/Forkball effect on arm


So I often hear people saying a splitter and forkball are bad for a pitchers arm but I’ve never understood why. If all you are doing is putting the ball between your index finger and middle finger and then throwing like a regular fastball, what causes the pitch to hurt a pitchers arm?


I don’t know much much but I do know is that it can really hurt your fingers and forearm if you have fairly small hands. I learned this when my friend tried throwing it.


It’s often been said that the forkball is either a career saver or a career ender.

I’ve had two pitchers that did very well with the forkball, when used properly and smartly.

The forkball is delivered with the same fastball delivery motion - but, can have consequences like WiseGuy described in his post.

Since the grip is the key to this pitch, hand size and hand strength is important, if not down right necessary. The muscles and tendons that run along the arm have to do double duty when the arm starts and finishes it’s delivery cycle. I’ve had pitchers think they could manage the fork, but a simple test can quickly dispel that mindset. So, try this:

  • Take a large magic marker, or thick ball point pen and place it between your index and middle finger, Set the object deep in the knuckle joint.
  • set up a barrel about 25 feet away
    – now close your hand, something like making a fist, but don’t close the hand completely
    – now nothing fancy here… no windup or set, nothing… just bring your arm back and throw the object into the barrel … taint easy Magee … is it?
    If you can manage to make it the barrel and put the object in, you’re a candidate for practicing the fork.
    If on the other hand, you have a twinge in bottom of your elbow, and the muscles along the top of your forearm fee strained, then you have a lot of arm and shoulder conditioning to do. Stay away from the fork for now.
    By the way, in my opinion, it takes a good year, a full season, to really get the feel for launching the fork

Warning: one of the unexpected side effects of learning the fork, is a lot of discomfort in the small of the back - lumbar.


What about the splitter? I’ve never quite understood the differences in the splitter and the forkball. (I know that the splitter is faster and the fork has a little bit more of a knuckleball type movement but I don’t understand the difference in throwing the two)


Very good question. I should have addressed it earlier.

In my opinion, and how I used the two with pitchers that had command of them, is this way:

  • I consider the splitter as an off-speed pitch, but with a bit more zip and drop than a conventional off- speed
  • I consider a fork, as a “dead ball” just before it reaches the batter’s swipe path.

So, I look at the fork as literally dropping “dead”, and as impressing the batter of… “oh this is just too goo to believe!.” The splitter on the other hand …. again, just my view of things, the splitter has a bit more zip and it drops but not as “dead” as the fork.

My pitchers use to hold the fork wider in the hand with a greater finger spread. The splitter on the other hand, was held with just a bit more “grip” and the pitch seemed to dive left or right, depending on the intent of the pitcher.

Again, these are my views and may not be shared by others.


Like all pitch types the orientation and rotational direction dictates effects on the elbow.

Always choose to Forearm pronate any pitch type for a healthy outcome.


Well Shohei Ohtani is heading to the DL with a UCL injury. Thought it might be interesting to add that considering he uses a splitter as a strikeout pitch. Then again, can you put the blame on the splitter, or is it his mechanical flaws?


I guess I should go back to my main issue I am trying to solve in this post. I’ve never really considered the splitter a pitch I use but in the few times I’ve used it (at home messing around with different grips) I have noticed success in the splitter, but if it is a pitch that is going to give me injury problems, I want to avoid it completely. So if anyone has any input or studies, please let me know.


Due to your fingers being spread out, it puts a lot of stress on your fore arm and elbow, spread your fingers out and look at your fore arm it tightens up. Now if you put a baseball between it it wil take even more effort from your fore arm and elbow to keep it tucked between your fingers


Roger Clements did well with the splitter. He held the record of 20 strike outs in a game. Possibly why shoei ohtani throws it. Clements was a big dude with big hands. Shoei, 6’4" also big dude with big hands. Hes coming back from tommy john, really one of the most interesting players to follow in our time, " japanese babe ruth" . He turned down a waiting period to make more money to instead play mlb right away. Hes a great dh but more valuable as a pitcher.