Video of the football change-up-- a safe pitch for ages 8 up

I have made a video of the football change-up for all of you who are wanting a safe pitch for your young pitcher. My son is 11, has been taking pitching lessons from AAA pitchers for 3 years+, and has used this pitch effectively to strikeout over 200 batters+ in the past two years. He has never experienced any pain or discomfort as the result of using this pitch, and is the only pitcher I have seen at this age who throws this pitch the way he does. As a matter of fact, both of his coaches have told me that if he can continue to throw this pitch effectively, there will be no reason to learn a curveball when he turns 13, which I feel will be a plus for his long-term health. I hope you find this video useful. Give me your feedback.

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Can you clarify which direction the palm is facing at ball release? You mention throwing the pitch like a fastball which would be with the palm facing the target but you sort of demonstrate it with the palm facing in (i.e. 90 degrees of supination).

When throwing the football change-up, you will want to keep the “V” shape facing the batter, so if you are right-handed, your palm would face first base, and for a left-hander, your palm will face third base. Think of it like a karate chop, so yes, the palm has 90 degrees of supination. When throwing the pitch, your arm speed should be the same as a fastball. Some pitchers actually slow their arm on an off-speed pitch, but this gives the pitch away. It is very important to have good arm speed on this pitch in order to generate the spin needed for the pitch to drop, and it should drop 12 to 6, like you see in the Major Leagues.

IMO 90 degrees of supination at release as you describe it = curveball. The spin you describe is curveball spin. The wrist/forearm angle looks curveball, required arm speed looks curveball, the grip is slightly different with the ring finger more on the ball and the fingertips off but the middle and index finger positions look the same as curveball- at least as the NPA teaches it. IMO this looks like curveball for smaller hands.

Please explain why this isn’t a curveball.

The pitch is thrown just like you would a football. There is no wrist twisting with this pitch, and the palm of your hand faces first or third base throughout the motion. The action is that of a 12 to 6 curveball, and one of his coaches actually calls it a “curveball.” However, the big difference is that the wrist does not twist, and the speed is 12 to 15 mph slower than the fastball. It is a safe pitch. However, to your point, the action is that of a curveball, but the way the pitch is thrown is not identical to a curveball.

To clarify one point about the palm of the hand, it is 90 degrees from first base, not 90 degrees from your body. It is perpendicular to your body at all times. (or if you are left-handed, 90 degrees from third base) There is no twisting of the wrist on this pitch, and it is thrown just like you would throw a football, except you do not put your fingertips on the ball.

Coincidentally, I was goofing around with my 7-year-old the other day and he showed me a pitch that he had come up with that he called a “curving changeup”… a three-fingered changeup grip but the ball was thrown with a 90-degree supination like you have described.

For whatever reason, it worked pretty well, a lot better than his attempts at the “beginner’s curveball”… (at his level, I think all fastballs all the time should be the focus in practice and gametime, however.)

The football changeup uses the same arm position as if you were shaking hands with someone. I may have given the impression earlier that there was a 90-degree supination, but what I meant is that the palm of the hand is 90 degrees from either first base, or third base. (I apologize for the misunderstanding) There is no twisting to the pitch, and it is NOT like what you would see in Babe Ruth or Major Leagues. It is exactly as you would throw a football, except that you do not put your fingertips on the ball. If you have any questions, please view the video again, or reply. Thanks.

Yeah, that’s what I mean, the karate chop action…

We’re talking the same thing but just to be sure- in a righty at release palm to home = 0 degrees, palm open to first as you describe = 90 degrees supination and palm to third = 90 degrees pronation. Yes I realize your son is a lefty but you used the shaking hands example and that is typically done right handed.

There is no twisting of the wrist in a properly thrown curveball. You continue to describe the wrist/forearm angle promoted by the NPA in teaching a properly thrown curveball.

If you research the NPA you’ll find they promote ball movement by establishing and maintaining a pre-set wrist/forearm angle appropriate for each pitch- various degress of supination for glove side movement and various degrees of pronation for pitching arm side movement. No additional help or twist is taught. At release the wrist/forearm pronates, or rotates thumb down, naturally with all pitches.

One of the obstacles in teaching the curveball is eliminating the belief that there needs to be a twist of the wrist to get the ball to spin. This belief typically results in forced supination near or at release at a time when the arm should really be going through the protective process of pronating. This potentially leads to injury and thus the typical belief that the curveball is the devil of youth baseball.

This twisting is also what junior is likely doing with his buddies while they’re experimenting with curveballs. If you’ve ever seen kids practicing 90’ curveballs it will make you re-think the need to teach it properly rather than not at all.

I’m not saying that thrown the way you describe and used in proper moderation that the pitch is not safe. IMO though it’s still a curveball. I view this as another way to teach proper wrist/forearm angle for a curveball rather than just the “karate chop” thought process. With the fingertips off the ball I think it’s potentially a great “intermediate” teach, especially keeping the “V” towards the target, to get the feel for the proper wrist/forearm position.

However 90 degrees of supination, as you describe it, still equals curveball to me. The wrist/forearm must still pass through this additional 90 degrees (vs fastball position) to pronate properly. To some this additional 90 degrees, or twice the normal distance of a fastball, is not inconsequential in protecting the pitching arm.

Sorry this is so long winded.

thanks for sending me the video man. great video. i love how you showed the difference with your sons change and fastball.

Great post, JP. I agree 100%.

stfowler, what you describe as the way to throw a curveball (supinating into release point) is what many of us consider an incorrect way of throwing a curve. The proper way is to preset the supination before the arm starts forward and then maintain that up to ball release.

Since your “football change” is essentially the same as the curve, I think it’s important to say that in addition to proper technique, the other aspect that makes it safe is limiting the number thrown to about 20-25% of one’s total pitch count.

The pitch should be a straight up and down motion with the “V” facing the batter all the way through, which is what you describe. If you look at the end of the video when Jordan throws it, (watch his demonstration more closely than mine) you will see that this is what he does. When his arm starts forward, he has his arm set, he releases the ball and continues downward. Yes, I will agree that the pitch should not be over-used, and that a 20 - 25% percentage is a good ratio. I can tell you, for what it is worth, that he has been closely watched for the past 3 years, has taken a lesson once per week except when games will not allow, and his technique is constantly critiqued. His coach played with Dwight Gooden in the '80’s and is very conscientious about safety. Thanks for the post.

Good luck.

My son throws this same pitch with great success. The only difference is that he holds the seams more like in the last link you posted with the horseshoe(U) facing downwards and not touching the seams at all.He has between a 12-6 to a 1-7 drop on the ball and it is allmost impossible to hit when he is having a good day.It breaks about 2-3 feet in front of the plate and hitters swing over it if not in front of the pitch everytime.

I am interested in him trying the grip as you posted earlier to see if there is more movement to the ball. I have him throwing this pitch less then 20-25% of his pitches,more like 10-15% of the time.

At the younger ages,hitters have so much problems hitting the curveballs that pitchers overuse them.I have seen games where the pitchers throw as much curves as they do fastballs.My belief is that in order for you to have a good off speed pitch you first need a GREAT fastball.

Sir. really good info. I taught this pitch to my son a long time ago. I want to teach my grandson who is 10. Your video is no longer available on youtube. How can I go about viewing this video. Thank you.