What to do when the change up doesnt change?

My 11 year old throws the circle change, but when he throws it with the same arm action as his fastball, there appears to be almost no dropoff in velocity. So he ends up slowing his arm way down, and the change up becomes almost an eephus pitch. He pitched last night, and after one of these slow arm eephus pitches, his coach just stopped calling anything but a fastball, which he threw 86 times over 6 innings. Now we have also talked about changing speeds with his fastball, which he did very effectively last night, but i fear as the competition gets stiffer, not having an effective off speed pitch will be detrimental. So any tricks to get his change up to change up more?

Throw it, throw it, throw it…and then throw it…practice does make perfect on the change…it’ll be very dramatic after puberty but if he’s got it down now…good on ya!
I would say it is the most difficult pitch to train because you do have to have patience and motor skill that pre-puberty seldom provides…to do it right. There are lots of short cuts out there…he’s on the slowing the arm deal because he wants to suceed (Beware the coach who says things like “drag the leg” cuz he wants the benefit of the pitch without the competancy of the player), wrong message imo though…preach patience, practice and “proper fundementals of the pitch”, let him know you don’t have huge expectations now, just to keep working it (It’s also how kids/guys get good with the knuck).
SC I really respect your approach and your boy is developing nicely…keep it up…believe it or not the “fun” part is still on your horizon 8)

First, your 11 yr old threw over 86 pitches last night…might want to consider that those numbers are way high for an 11 yr old. I don’t know where your head is about pitch limits but I would consider a little education on this, I know I can’t change your mind right now on this but it might be helpful for the future.

Change up, well to get the change up to slow down, it might be the fact that in a younger players hands a circle change is a tough pitch to grip properly if you don’t have larger hands, a smaller hand will have to hold the pitch more firmly than it should be held and therefore giving it fastball speed with the same arm action. Might want to try a straight change and hold the ball back in the hand a little, maybe a palm ball…both pitches should be thrown with a nice and relaxed grip.

Last thing, if he went 6 innings with predominantly fastball, get him to locate that pitch and throw it for all it’s worth, I think a lot of people get into the thought that, “well I need to mix my pitches up”, well if you can throw 80% fastballs and you are getting hitters out then do it. My 14u son threw a 55 pitch complete game (6 inning spread) Saturday and he threw 2 knuckle curves and 2 changeups. It was a 1 hitter, all he needed was the hitters to know he had the other pitches to keep them off balance, he just used the other pitches as show pitches nothing else.

Yes i am fully aware of pitch count limits. Last night was the first time he has pitched more than 55 pitches all season. Since the beginning of May he has pitched in 3 games, for a grand total of 8 pitches (May 6), 55 pitches (May 11) and last night 85. Last night was the first time he has thrown 85 ever. He wont pitch in their game Saturday, and the next game after that is Monday, which the coach said he is going to use to let some other kids who havent pitched much pitch. So the next game he is likely to pitch would be next Thursday, which gives him 8 days rest. And thats assuming the coach doesnt use one of our top two pitchers that game. So am i worried about one game? Not really. He was strong and in control for the entire game.

[quote=“buwhite”]
Change up, well to get the change up to slow down, it might be the fact that in a younger players hands a circle change is a tough pitch to grip properly if you don’t have larger hands, a smaller hand will have to hold the pitch more firmly than it should be held and therefore giving it fastball speed with the same arm action. Might want to try a straight change and hold the ball back in the hand a little, maybe a palm ball…both pitches should be thrown with a nice and relaxed grip.[/quote]

We have tried other grips, the circle is the only one he can control consistently. And my son has many many problems, but small hands isnt on that list :smiley:

[quote=“buwhite”]
Last thing, if he went 6 innings with predominantly fastball, get him to locate that pitch and throw it for all it’s worth, I think a lot of people get into the thought that, “well I need to mix my pitches up”, well if you can throw 80% fastballs and you are getting hitters out then do it. My 14u son threw a 55 pitch complete game (6 inning spread) Saturday and he threw 2 knuckle curves and 2 changeups. It was a 1 hitter, all he needed was the hitters to know he had the other pitches to keep them off balance, he just used the other pitches as show pitches nothing else.[/quote]

Thats more or less what he did last night. He doesnt really have the velocity to blow his fastball by good hitters, so that where the changing speed conversation started. I was just trying to make him aware that if he throws the same speed all the time, good hitters will time him. Also, he falls into ruts with just throwing BP fastballs in order to throw strikes. One thing i have been trying to do is to get him to toss in a max effort FB every now and then, even if its not a strike, just to keep the batters honest. Then that BP fastball almost ends up being a changeup.

[quote=“jdfromfla”]Throw it, throw it, throw it…and then throw it…practice does make perfect on the change…it’ll be very dramatic after puberty but if he’s got it down now…good on ya!
I would say it is the most difficult pitch to train because you do have to have patience and motor skill that pre-puberty seldom provides…to do it right. There are lots of short cuts out there…he’s on the slowing the arm deal because he wants to suceed (Beware the coach who says things like “drag the leg” cuz he wants the benefit of the pitch without the competancy of the player), wrong message imo though…preach patience, practice and “proper fundementals of the pitch”, let him know you don’t have huge expectations now, just to keep working it (It’s also how kids/guys get good with the knuck).
SC I really respect your approach and your boy is developing nicely…keep it up…believe it or not the “fun” part is still on your horizon 8)[/quote]

Thanks JD! I do have so much fun with him, i dont think i can accurately put it into words. It can be a struggle at times, as he has a pretty large perfectionist streak in him, but overall i’d say we both enjoy the heck out of being at the ballfield.

He actually throws pretty good knuckleball, but for some reason his coaches seem reluctant to let him throw it in a game. I’d say only 3 or 4 out of 10 actually dont spin enough to get some knuckle action, but when it does it is the freakiest looking thing i have ever caught. It doesnt move like a Wakefield pitch ( i suppose because he isnt throwing nearly as hard as Wakes) but it sort of wiggles as it comes to home. Ive caught enough of them in the back yard to know that a LL hitter would be memorized by it. :smiley: The ones that dont knuckle end up working like a changeup. He can actually throw this pitch with much more fastball-like arm action. The only issue is that he will leave it up sometimes. But if he keeps it down in the strikezone, i feel like it can be really effective.

I guess maybe my question can be morphed into this:

I hear his coaches say things like “Just throw it like a fastball…let the grip work for you.” Is this how you actually throw a circle change? Is the only difference between a FB and a CU the grip? Or are there some subtleties that im not picking up on? Or is this just one of those “every pitcher has to find his own way” kind of things?

It APPEARS that you’re so happy to see him get in a game, you’ve come to believe he’s in no danger at all because he’s getting so much rest. Before you make that kind of judgment, I encourage you to start tracking his pitches, including bullpens.

The boy’s 11. How much opportunity could he have possibly given other types of grips?

That brings the conversation back to the original post. Grab a bat, step in, and have him pitch to you! Don’t try to hit the ball, but try to see how his difference in speed APPEARS to a batter. Its physically impossible to throw the ball with the same velocity or very close to it if he’s using a 2 finger FB grip and more than 2 fingers for his CU, unless his FB grip is causing the problem!

Look closely at his FB grip. Make sure he’s not spreading apart his two fingers more than just a bit, that he’s not “tucking” the ball back into his palm just a bit, or that he isn’t gripping the ball too hard. Those are typical mistake pitchers make. The 1st two will in effect be a modified CU, and the 3rd will make it very difficult to have great control, thus causing a pitcher to feel he’s got to “back off” in order to get the control he feels he needs.

Don’t expect too much from the boy! At 11, he hasn’t even really begun his baseball career, and if he’s like most 11YO’s, he’s gonna get bigger and stronger in the next year, so he’s gonna gain some velocity naturally, and that will change how he pitches.

Sit back and enjoy the ride a bit more. Progress doesn’t happen in rapid jerks from one level to the next. :wink:

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
It APPEARS that you’re so happy to see him get in a game, you’ve come to believe he’s in no danger at all because he’s getting so much rest. Before you make that kind of judgment, I encourage you to start tracking his pitches, including bullpens.[/quote]

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=13341

This season starts just below the last posted video

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
The boy’s 11. How much opportunity could he have possibly given other types of grips? [/quote]

Enough to know he isnt comfortable throwing them. Should i make him throw the other grips more?

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
That brings the conversation back to the original post. Grab a bat, step in, and have him pitch to you! Don’t try to hit the ball, but try to see how his difference in speed APPEARS to a batter.[/quote]

I have not ever stood in the batters box, but i have caught him enough to see that the difference is minimal.

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
Its physically impossible to throw the ball with the same velocity or very close to it if he’s using a 2 finger FB grip and more than 2 fingers for his CU, unless his FB grip is causing the problem! [/quote]

This is actually a thought i have had. But i wanted to approach the issue from the changeup side to see if we were doing it correctly before we went tinkering with his fastball, which he has finally seemed to have tamed this season.

[quote=“scorekeeper”]

Don’t expect too much from the boy! At 11, he hasn’t even really begun his baseball career, and if he’s like most 11YO’s, he’s gonna get bigger and stronger in the next year, so he’s gonna gain some velocity naturally, and that will change how he pitches. [/quote]

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
Sit back and enjoy the ride a bit more. Progress doesn’t happen in rapid jerks from one level to the next. ;)[/quote]

I dont ever expect too much. And i freeking love the ride. But last night was special for him and i wont apologize for being excited about it. He out dueled one of the leagues stud 12 year olds who was the only 11 year old who made our Majors AS team last season. Especially for a kid who has struggled with consistency, last night was a much needed boost in his confidence. I know that in the grand scheme of things one game as an 11 year old means a hill of beans. But that doesnt mean we cant stop and smell the roses for minute.

It is a touch pitch, chokeing it more into the palm as he gets bigger hands is one way to “change” a change, keeping off seams…the point of him being pre-puberty is not lost here, it is why creating an expectation that tells him that it might take some time to get good with it is worthy. You really don’t see very effective changes until 60’6" imo but continuing to develop it and the idea of ball manipulation are good thoughts to be working into the program now.
Everyone wants that “just throw it like a fastball” cue but seldom do they remember that it is a pitch that has to be worked and developed…
[size=18]Little Known Fact Time[/size]

Greg Maddux was sent down to the minors…because he needed to work on his change!!!

Takes time, needs work, will never be completely done developing even when hes 23 like The Great Greg was when he went back down for the last time :wink:

Bu and SK, I invite you to select SC’s profile and read his postings…his approach is measured, open minded, kid-centric and imo above reproach. If he was anything but a caring loving dad who is willing to learn/relearn unlearn what he needs to help his boy…imo more a standard to be worked toward than an ego-oriented glory seeker…or anything close, I wouldn’t be taking note as I am. Iapologize if I misread the feel of how you’ve responded to his postings, I just want you both to know I’ve read his stuff from jump and can detect nothing but good positive stuff for his or that matter any kid.

I think we risk potentially drifting the pendulum towards too much worry if it becomes a worry to allow an 11 yr old to compete and go for it in a duel like that, given a proper approach and preparation. 85 pitches once in a season at 11? with over a weeks interval in rest? I’d say that Dr. Fleisig wouldn’t have a ton of heartburn there…I certainly wouldn’t call it blatent and chronic over-use…I mean really, ask yourselves how many other 9, 10 and 11 year olds went back to back more than once in appearances during the time SC’s kid rested between appearances…Order of magnitude has to matter also. Though I want you both to know I for one appreciate looking out for the kid first as an approach and attitude that I think you both have.

To the OP, as has been suggested, look at his FB grip. Most kids with the problem you’re seeing that I’ve seen that age just don’t get the ball out in the fingers as much as they should. So in essence, they’re kind of throwing a “change-up-ish” pitch. So when they then throw the change-up, there isn’t much of a change in velocity.

In my experience with my son (starting at 8), he was very uncomfortable at first with the proper FB grip (4-seam) but it didn’t take long for him to start throwing pretty well. I had him throw the ball with it deep in the hand (a palmball?) and the difference was very noticeable. Without watching the ball, it’s difficult to see what he’s throwing between those two pitches.

Kool! What have you done to try to analyze what those numbers mean? Have you put them in any kind of database, or even a spreadsheet? If you have, I’d like a copy to play with.

Far be it for me to dictate something like that, especially not having ever had the opportunity to stand there and watch him throw. But I will say this. There are literally tens of thousands of pitchers who will work on a pitch for a year or more before they get it to the point they’re comfortable with it.

Having said that, I honestly wouldn’t advise making him do anything. I’d try like crazy to explain to him what you see as an opportunity to improve himself, but history tells me that when a player is forced to do something, even though its “right”. he doesn’t put out the best effort. So in general, I think its best just to plant the seed, then let him go his own way and think about it. If he was 18 and going into his Sr year of HS, my thinking would be a bit different, but at 11, he’s got a lot of time before he has to consider making any change a matter of career life or death.

If you haven’t stood in there and tried to hit it, you really can’t tell all that well. But remember this. If throws 60, on the little field its gonna look like 81 to the batter. I can tell you, without a lot of experience hitting, 81 is flat quick, and following that with something even a few mph different can make a dad look pretty silly. :wink:

The nice thing about checking the grip of a FB, is anyone who throws a good FB can be used to compare grips.

Heck, if you didn’t do that, there’s really no reason to play the game! While there is no “I” in “TEAM”, if a player isn’t getting some self gratification, he’s really not getting the fun out of the game he should.

I don’t think many people stress that enough in young kids. There’s such a myopia about team play and sacrificing one’s own ego for the team, its often forgotten that everyone’s ego needs stroked once in a while!

I just hate to see parents get too carried away with what’s going on, so I always advise caution. :wink:

Couldn’t help it SC, I had to run the numbers you gave into something to get a better look. See http://www.infosports.com/scorekeeper/images/4SC.pdf

Actually, the reason you seldom see effective CUs on the small field doesn’t have anything to do with the size of the field. It has to do with very few pitchers actually using the same arm slot and RP, but more often because pitcher do what SC’s kid did, slow the arm way down. Just because kids on the small field are inexperienced, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid or unable to pick up an obvious ‘tell’.

One of the reasons for the difficulty, is that coaches have been brainwashed unto believing every CU needs to be 10MPH different than the FB, and that’s just blatant horse pucky!

A 10 mph difference is nothing more than a “rule of thumb” for professional pitchers, and in no way applies to all pitchers at every level! In fact, its not even necessary for an effective pitch for a ML pitcher. Its effectiveness has more to do with its relation to the FB, not just its velocity.

FI, a pitcher who throws 100 doesn’t need a CU of 90 to be effective. But let’s say he did. That would be a 10% change. So if a pitcher cruises at 911, if he has a 10MPH drop, the difference is about 11%.

And to take that 10MPH ROT to the small field is really silly and shows the person advocating it doesn’t really understand the physics of the game. A pitcher on the small field throwing 77 is the equivalent of 100 on the big field. But if he reduced his velocity 10 MPH, it would be about 13%! In order to reduce it to get the equivalent of 90, all he’d have to do is reduce it to 69.

People get way too caught up in things like that, when all that really counts is if the batters are getting fooled enough not to be able to tee off on the pitch.

[quote=“jdfromfla”]Bu and SK, I invite you to select SC’s profile and read his postings…his approach is measured, open minded, kid-centric and imo above reproach. If he was anything but a caring loving dad who is willing to learn/relearn unlearn what he needs to help his boy…imo more a standard to be worked toward than an ego-oriented glory seeker…or anything close, I wouldn’t be taking note as I am. Iapologize if I misread the feel of how you’ve responded to his postings, I just want you both to know I’ve read his stuff from jump and can detect nothing but good positive stuff for his or that matter any kid.

I think we risk potentially drifting the pendulum towards too much worry if it becomes a worry to allow an 11 yr old to compete and go for it in a duel like that, given a proper approach and preparation. 85 pitches once in a season at 11? with over a weeks interval in rest? I’d say that Dr. Fleisig wouldn’t have a ton of heartburn there…I certainly wouldn’t call it blatent and chronic over-use…I mean really, ask yourselves how many other 9, 10 and 11 year olds went back to back more than once in appearances during the time SC’s kid rested between appearances…Order of magnitude has to matter also. Though I want you both to know I for one appreciate looking out for the kid first as an approach and attitude that I think you both have.[/quote]

I never for a second believed his approach wasn’t “measured, open minded and kid-centric”. But just like the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, putting a child at more risk than necessary may not at all be intentional. That’s why I wanted to see the facts, not the impressions.

When I put in the numbers and looked, the 1st thing I noticed was how many times the number of pitches was estimated, not factual. While I won’t say this is true in every case, I will say that people tend to underestimate their child’s pitch count, and overestimate a pitcher who wasn’t their child. Now I can’t say as to how far off those estimates were, but its important to try be as accurate as possible.

Something else that was very noticeable was that I can’t believe that lad only threw 1 bullpen in a year.

So in the end I’d say SC has done a much better job than many people would do in the same situation, but there’s no doubt he could do better. More real numbers and less estimates would be a definite improvement, as would be logging the bullpens.

Does that mean if he doesn’t, SC Jr is gonna need to be scoped or have TJ surgery before he’s 18? Heck no! But it would mean he was much more informed as a parent and would be in a better position to maybe tell a coach he needs to be skipped for a game, or that he shouldn’t throw a pen because he just pitched the day before.

Its really difficult to juggle a player playing on 2 teams at the same time, with his practice time. And obviously it would be even more difficult for a kid playing on 2 teams at the same time and taking lessons too.

Changing speeds off the fastball is an excellent change up at this or any age…off the 2 seam, hold it loosely and pronate. Similar to turning over a BP Fastball … much easier to control and a pitch you can take to any level.

After this post i wont respond to any posts that dont directly refer to the subject of the original post. I have gone to great lengths to try to ensure my son’s health and still allow him to grow as a ballplayer. Have i made mistakes? Sure. Im not perfect. But in the end its me that has to make those decisions. Not his coaches. Not random people on the internet. Me. I made a decision last night that he didnt look like he was laboring.

SK, i know you mean well, but i find your posting style here and on another site we both post on occasionally to be confrontational and extremely biased against the parents of youth baseball players. I feel in my heart that if i had kept more accurate records, recorded pitch counts exactly correctly, maybe kept up with ball/strike percentages, that you would be vilifying me as a dad who micromanages and is overinvolved. But i try to keep things more casual, and run with some approximations and now im the dad who maybe doesnt have the greatest memory in the world, and is underestimating the workload on my kid. With you, i feel like i just cant win. So, i concede. You win the argument. I wont respond anymore.

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
Something else that was very noticeable was that I can’t believe that lad only threw 1 bullpen in a year. [/quote]

My son’s teams just dont practice pitching. I dont know what else to say. Last summer during AS they had more regular bullpen sessions which i admit i didnt record. But this season he has had one.

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
Its really difficult to juggle a player playing on 2 teams at the same time, with his practice time. And obviously it would be even more difficult for a kid playing on 2 teams at the same time and taking lessons too.[/quote]

His rec team practices once a week, for an hour.No pitching. Just hitting and fielding. His Travel team doesnt practice at all once rec ball starts. We get together on Friday nights before tournaments and take some BP at one of the coaches indoor facilities. We only play in tournaments on weekends when our rec league doesnt have games. We have played in two tournaments since the beginning of the rec season. There is no juggling. Our LL and our TT organization work together, not against. And besides all that my son has been eclipsed by some of the other pitchers on his TT and has only pitched twice i think in two very short relief appearances. Which by the way i am pretty happy about. I have no issue at all with him being a non-pitcher on the TT. His future in baseball (whatever that may be) is most likely with a bat in his hand.

This thread was born out of curiosity after his coach told me after the game last night that he called 1 changeup, and 86 fastballs. I was curious about the mechanics of the pitch, if we were doing it right. As for all the other stuff, its just cluttering up the thread. If you dont like the way i work with my son, well youre entitled to your opinion. I just wont argue with you about it anymore.

Very, very well said southcarolina.

At 11U/12U, FB with movement is all that’s needed. My son throws mostly the 2-seamer, an occasional cutter and slider. Same arm action, just different grips.

That being said, the good hitters (and even not so good :))will get around on the FB when it’s straight; therefore, the occasional CU to keep the hitters honest. And it happened a few weeks back. His FB didn’t move and came straight down the middle of the plate. Gave up 5 singles and 4 runs in three innings. He threw one CU, which was a strike. Next game his FB had the usual movement, but he threw a half dozen effective CU. Same with his next game. He’s starting to feel good about the CU.

As for the CU, he doesn’t feel comfortable with the circle change. We worked on it last year, but he never controlled it and was getting down on himself. Tried it again this year; same results. So we got rid of the circle change. He feels better with the knuckle curve and is playing with Tim Lincecum’s “splitter”, which he really likes but hasn’t mastered. His arm action is the same whether it’s a fast ball, knuckle curve or Lincecum’s “splitter.” I would imagine the difference in speed is less than 5 mph. He throws them all hard.

What I’m discovering is he has to want to throw the CU, and it’s got to be for a reason. Otherwise, he’s just going to rear back and challenge the batters to hit his best stuff, the FB. One reason we recently found out is when they’re hitting the FB, and that doesn’t feel good. The other reason is his favorite players throw a particular pitch, and if he can do likewise, then he’s doing what he likes to do.

Pitchers he likes to imitate: Rivera’s cutter, King Felix’ two-seamer, everything about Lincecum, Halladay, and Cliff Lee.

[quote=“southcarolina”]I guess maybe my question can be morphed into this:

I hear his coaches say things like “Just throw it like a fastball…let the grip work for you.” Is this how you actually throw a circle change? Is the only difference between a FB and a CU the grip? Or are there some subtleties that im not picking up on? Or is this just one of those “every pitcher has to find his own way” kind of things?[/quote]
Total body mechanics should be the same between the fastball and change. (And for all pitches, really.) The only differences should be the grip and possibly some pronation. But, as JD pointed out, the change does take developing a “feel”. I think the change is possibly the most difficult pitch to master.

The “Just throw it like a fastball…let the grip work for you.” comment is well-intentioned. The point is to NOT try to do things differently (aside from the grip and pronation) due to the risk of tipping your pitches.