Trying to add a new pitch

Hey guys im 13, and baseball’s starting up for us. I’m a pitcher and outfielder, I closed on our all-star team last year. I throw pretty hard in the 70-75 range but I threw nothing but fastballs last year.

I don’t know about adding a change-up yet because im worried guys will sit on it because of my fastball speed.

I’ve been throwing a cutter and forkball in practice. I haven’t mastered either yet.

Any advice?

Hello, SpecialK.
Unless you have a King Kong-sized paw, I would advise you to stay away from the forkball because the extreme grip required of it puts too much of a strain on the arm and the hand. However, its cousin the split-finger pitch, or splitter, is a lot easier to throw; it’s closer to the fastball. To throw that one you grip the ball as for a two-seamer but with the index and middle fingers just off the seams and perhaps a bit off-center, and you throw it just like a fastball.
As for the changeup—did you know that just about any pitch can be turned into a nice one? My pitching coach of long ago told me about this, and he demonstrated a few for me. Now, if you want to acquire a good one I would suggest the palm ball—this was the first change I acquired, and a good one it is. You grip the ball with all four fingers on top of the ball and the thumb underneath on the seam for support, well back in the palm of the hand (hence the name)—but don’t grip it too hard, because you do NOT want to squeeze the juice out of the ball!This too you throw like a fast ball—and you can change speeds on it by gripping the ball more loosely or holding it farther forward in your hand.
Still another pitch you might think about is the knuckle-curve. I remember how I wanted to try throwing a knuckleball, but I got nowhere fast with it because I had a sharp karate-chop wrist snap on my curve ball (which had come attached to my natural sidearm delivery). So I experimented with different grips, and I had my knuckle-curve, which can be a very devastating pitch indeed. It’s not difficult to throw either. You can use any of several different knuckleball grips—two-finger, three-finger, dig your fingernails into the seams—and throw a curve ball. Here too you can change speeds on it. (I think Mike Mussina picked his up the same way as a kid, not being able to get the hang of the knuckleball because he too had a sharp wrist snap on the curve.)
I don’t know if you have been working on trying to get more speed, or at least more movement, on your “fast ball”, but here’s a little secret—in fact, I call it “The Secret”, which I learned from watching how the Yankees’ Big Three pitching rotation did it, way back in the late 40s and the early 50s. What it is—you need to get your whole body into the action, drive off the lower half of the body, using the legs, the hips and the torso in one continuous motion so that the energy flows uninterrupted all the way through to the shoulder and the arm. Not only do you get more power into your pitches, you also take a lot of pressure off said arm and shoulder so that you throw harder—and faster—with less effort. A good way to begin is with something called the “Hershiser” drill, which aims at getting the hips fully involved, because they are the connection between the lower and upper halves of the body—and this is the real key to a pitcher’s power.
Also, something else my pitching coach told me: Move the ball around—high, low, inside, outside, change speeds, change the batter’s eye level, and stay away from the middle of the plate. Mix up your pitches. If you can get the hang of those couple of pitches I told you about, you’ll have the advantage. Hope this helps. 8) :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:

Any change of speed pitch, used smartly, can be effective. I’d consider that change up next … It’s an important pitch to learn and throw well.

[quote=“Steven Ellis”]Any change of speed pitch, used smartly, can be effective. I’d consider that change up next … It’s an important pitch to learn and throw well.[/quote]^^^What he said

I would definitely stay away from a forkball and splitter, as both put quite a lot of strain on the elbow and unless you are making big bucks, stay away from a pitch like that. Fastballs and Changeups are what you want to use the most of, even in the high school level. Some would say that is all you need in high school too.

CS, I agree about the forkball, but not so much about the splitter. The grip is not the same. Actually, the splitter is like a two-seamer with the index and middle fingers just off the seams, so unless you have such a small hand that you would have trouble with it you should do all right with that pitch. I never threw it, because I just didn’t have the speed, but I did okay with several other breaking pitches. 8)

Why would you be worried they are going to “sit” on your changeup, if you throw your fastball for strikes, then they will be expecitng that pitch, but if you are dominating with your fastball why throw another pitch unless you need to get a hitter off balance.

On the other hand, your changeup needs to be 10 mph off your fastball and you need to throw it looking just like your fastball.

From what I was aware of though, the splitter, if thrown improperly would create similar issues to throwing the curve or slider improperly. A changeup is a lot better in this sense beings that it is a good off-speed pitch with the same danger as a fastball which is little to none. I just don’t want to see someone throw it improperly and begin to exacerbate any arm issues that may already be present.

Furthermore, I think these are very common misconceptions about pitching and what is best. We currently sell that pitches that move are more effective against hitters than fastballs, and at a young age many pitchers try to experiment themselves with breaking pitches and can hurt themselves, instead of finding that they need to focus on two pitches that will give them a great deal of success.

If you are striving to become a great pitcher as you are older, you should learn a changeup now, and nothing else in my opinion. Consider the best pitcher thus far in the MLB. Batters are hitting a measly .121 against his changeup! Other pitches like forkballs and splitters are cool and sexy, but think about the best pitchers in the league: nearly every one has a stellar changeup!
If your concerned about players sitting on it, just know you wont be able to blow it by people forever, and a good changeup will make your fastball look 5mph faster!
Good luck

You should be careful about giving absolute numbers like that. There is a rule-of-thumb that a CU generally works best when its 10MPH shower than the pitcher’s FB, but that’s only a rule-of-thumb because it can change with the situation.

FI, if a pitcher throws a 2 and 4 seamer, along with a cutter as my kid did, what’s he supposed to do? All 3 pitches have different velocities. Although they’re all FB’s. Also, what if the FB velocity is only say 75? It would be a real bear to get the CU down to 65. Also, although this isn’t the case here, there’s a big difference in the mound distance, so should the difference be 10, even on a shorter mound distance?

Here’s a pretty good article on velocity differences.

Thanks guys, I’ve been working on it. And Zita, I actually do have a king-kong-sized palm (I can palm an NBA basketball with one hand). I think I’ll work on the changeup in practice more, but mostly just stick to my fastball and cutter for now. (First game’s tomorrow wish me luck.)

you’re same age as my borther and you throw pretty much as hard, what i did with him is convert him to a 95% sinkerballer. guys like fosto carmona can throw almost exclusively sinkers all game long because they have good arms and good command, right now you’re at a point where you can throw hard enough to get it by people, use it to your advantage but do it wisely. i would drop the 4-seamer and work on sinking the ball. get a change-up as a off balance pitch you would throw like maybe 10% of the time and pound hitters with sinkers like brandon webb or fosto carmona just to throw some guys in there.

my brother did that, pitched almost exclusively sinkers for a complete season and played catch almost exclusively using the change-up grip now he’s got both and he’s one of the best pitchers of the bantam AA league around here.

Here’s a story from the major leagues that illustrates very nicely the wisdom of sometimes dropping a pitch.
Jim Brosnan, a very good relief pitcher in the National League, was with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1959, and one day he was talking with pitching coach Clyde King. Brosnan was complaining about his two fast balls, the four-seamer and the two-seamer, neither of which was working for him. So King called in a catcher and had Brosnan throw for about ten or fifteen minutes, using both fast balls in the mix. Then he told Brosnan to drop the four-seamer, which wasn’t doing anything for him, and go with the two-seamer which was working very nicely. So Brosnan became a sinker-slider pitcher and had great success with it in subsequent years when he pitched for the Cincinnati Reds.
So there’s an idea. Drop the four-seamer and work on that sinker, which can be a most devastating pitch. 8)

any tips on how to throw the sinker? I’d love to get more ground-ball outs as im mostly a strikeout guy right now, but i’ve messed around with the sinker and i really need to see how i can get it to sink good

The whole idea of the sinker is for the pitch to sink, right? Okay. You use a standard two-seam fastball grip, with the index and middle fingers on the seams, and when you throw it (here’s how Steve describes it) you turn your hand inward almost as if you were throwing a screwball but not as extreme—and here’s a tip: you will get devastating results with the pitch if you throw it sidearm. There have been many pitchers who throw it that way—like Spud Chandler, one of the great Yankee pitchers of the 30s and 40s. It’ll take time, but when you get the hang of it you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
And when you pair it with the slider, batters look out! 8)

you probably dont throw sidearm so here’s how i learned it and how i taught my brother to throw it

hold the ball 2-seam, now lift your middle finger up. throw a fastball as you normally would, this will make you learn to keep pressure on your index finger and thereof have the good pronation needed to give proper spin. when you’ll be used to it you’ll either drop the middle finger slightly or just keep it that way.

mike mussina used to do that all the time and had major movement. he did it with the 4-seam fastball grip also.

remember not to force any pronation as this will result in a slower pitch, instead, let the grip do the work and just keep doing what you’re already doing. you’ll need practice to get confortable, but when you do, you’ll have transformed that flat fastball into your best friend and you’ll be good for a LONG time before you actually need to go to a curveball to get batters out.

thanks guys. the sinker’s gonna be something I work on in practice. right now I’ll stick to my fastball and cutter cause i can place those greatly and with good velocity.