Which Change Up?

Hi,

My son just turned 10. He’s a hard throwing lefty, but really needs to learn a good change up, as he’ll be throwing to older kids in the Spring.

We’ve dabbled with the three finger change (too fast), the palm ball (too slow), and even the circle change (harder to control) (we call the circle change the “C” change because his index and thumb are more of a “C” than a “circle”).

One of my assistant coaches has his 10 year old throw a knuckle ball instead of a change up. He does all right with it, though it’s real slow.

Which change up do you guys recommend for a 10-year-old? Which change up has worked well with your 10 year old pitchers?

Thanks.

Good morning, southpaw.
The first changeup I acquired was a palm ball, and I don’t think it’s too slow. You can actually vary the speed on it by holding the ball way back in the palm of your hand (hence the name) or further forward, and also by altering the grip somewhat—either tighten up or loosen up a bit. You can try doing various things with it—but don’t give up on it, because it’s one of the most effective pitches there is.
As for some of the others you mentioned, you might also give the so-called “c” change another shot. I remember when I was having trouble with the circle change, and my pitching coach spotted the problem at once: he said that my hand wasn’t quite large enough to form the complete circle or “OK” sign and to try the backward “c”—and also to use a more off-center grip. That solved the problem, and I had that changeup as well. And you also might experiment with a modified split-finger pitch: for that you would have the kid grip the ball as for a two-seamer but with the fingers just off the seams.
The most important thing to remember is that you MUST throw every pitch, and I mean EVERY pitch, with the same arm motion and the same arm speed as for a fastball. Slowing down the arm motion and arm speed is a no-no in any pitcher’s book. You vary the speed by varying the grip. An interesting note: my pitching coach once told me that just about any pitch can be turned into a nice changeup, and he demonstrated some for me, and I latched on to a couple of them and added them to my arsenal of breaking stuff. 8)

[quote=“south paw”]Hi,

My son just turned 10. He’s a hard throwing lefty, but really needs to learn a good change up, as he’ll be throwing to older kids in the Spring.

We’ve dabbled with the three finger change (too fast), the palm ball (too slow), and even the circle change (harder to control) (we call the circle change the “C” change because his index and thumb are more of a “C” than a “circle”).

One of my assistant coaches has his 10 year old throw a knuckle ball instead of a change up. He does all right with it, though it’s real slow.

Which change up do you guys recommend for a 10-year-old? Which change up has worked well with your 10 year old pitchers?

Thanks.[/quote]

IMHO, the mistake you’re making, is that you’re the one trying to decide not only whether a pitch has been a success or failure, but why. The kid is 10! Let him throw with 100 different grips and vary the arm speed or arm angle all he wants. Trust me, he will learn what works for him and what doesn’t without your help, or anyone else’s.

Pitching isn’t like throwing a series of switches and things happen the same way all the time for everyone. It’s a long process of trial and error that can be extremely different not from just player to player, but from one point in a pitcher’s “career” to another. Here’s another thing you can make book on. No matter what he throws next year for a CU, successful or not, it won’t be what he’s throwing when he’s 14, and that will be different than what he’s throwing when he’s 18.

It’s a very good thing to offer opportunity and guidance, but sometimes its best just to get out of the way and let the kid find out for himself. He’s gonna do that to some degree anyway, so why not encourage it, unless you think if he found something that worked he wouldn’t recognize it. If that’s the case, you should re-evaluate how much faith you have in the boy to do much of anything. Just MHO.

Zita:

Thanks for your helpful input.

scorekeeper:

I didn’t say I am deciding for my son. I simply asked which change ups are effective for 10 year olds. Since this is a pitching forum, the thought occurred to me that perhaps some of you who have had or coached 10 year old pitchers and might know. Not so that I can pick one and force it on my son, but so that I may present one or two or three change ups to my son and teach him how to throw it (or them) correctly. As a former pitcher, I know the value of receiving proper help and instruction early, especially from a father.

Your suggestion that a 10 year old is going to “learn what works for him and what doesn’t without your help, or anyone else’s”, is absurd. Just MHO.

The easy answer is “whatever he can throw for strikes”, but I’m guessing you figured that out.

I teach a modified circle change that is easier to control. Middle finger and ring finger go on the two seams, and you curl your index finger and pinky around the sides of the ball. Thumb sits underneath, similar to the thumb placement on a fastball grip.

The knuckleball is actually a really effective changeup for little leaguers too. The traditional change-up grips aren’t really all that different from a fastball grip for a lot of kids with small hands.

I think it’s interesting that you say the palm ball is too slow. I have a hard time believing that is even possible at the little league level. As long as he’s throwing with fastball mechanics and arm speed, and he’s throwing for strikes, I would imagine it’s going to be effective no matter how slow it is.

[quote=“south paw”]…
I didn’t say I am deciding for my son. I simply asked which change ups are effective for 10 year olds. Since this is a pitching forum, the thought occurred to me that perhaps some of you who have had or coached 10 year old pitchers and might know. Not so that I can pick one and force it on my son, but so that I may present one or two or three change ups to my son and teach him how to throw it (or them) correctly. As a former pitcher, I know the value of receiving proper help and instruction early, especially from a father.

Your suggestion that a 10 year old is going to “learn what works for him and what doesn’t without your help, or anyone else’s”, is absurd. Just MHO.[/quote]

Now I’m confused. How is you picking two or three to present not deciding for him. Unless your kid is a lot different than most, my guess is, just to keep you off his back, he’ll be trying things he hears about from other kids, sees in videos, or even reads in places like this, but he’ll never let you see him try those things.

And what’s really sad is, if he does find something he thinks works better than what you “present” to him, he’ll either abandon it or do it surreptitiously, then feel guilty about because he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

You’ve already decided that 3 of the most popular grips are no good, so what’s left? Like Zita’s already pointed out, its all in the grip and the arm action, but you having been a pitcher should have known that, so what the heck is left that anyone can help you with? To tell the truth, I saw a dad who’s much too invested in his son’s budding career, and needs to back off, but I tried to do it at least a little more gently.

How about this advice. The boy’s age and how hard he throws has little or nothing to do with what grip will work best for him. It has a lot more to do with his “style” and how big his hand is. And, the velocity of a CU has little to do with how effective it is either. What’s more important is its velocity relative to the pitch its trying to be the opposite of, usually a 4 seam FB. And that doesn’t mean a 10MPH is good and an 8MPH difference is bad. Its relative! That means the percentage of difference measured in time, not the gross quantity measured in velocity.

I’ve always advised everyone just starting a kid down the CU road to start with the 3 fingered change. Not because it’s the “best” grip, but because it’s the only NATURAL CU grip there is, and its one that every kid has used at one time or another. Once the boy learns to command that grip, all other grips can be made from it by simply moving the fingers and thumb.

But it seems obvious that the one thing in the equation that’s necessary for success, isn’t in your paradigm, and that’s patience. It seems as though you expect him to be the equal of Trevor Hoffman by next spring so he can get all those older boys out by throwing that devastating change. Sorry, can’t help you with that. But I honestly wish your boy the best of luck. It looks like he’s gonna need it.

I’m sorry if you found anything I said insulting. I was trying to be honest, not insulting.

Coach:

Glad to hear you teach a modified circle change. That’s similar to the one my son threw last season. He hasn’t thrown a lot of change ups in games, but I think he will need to against the bigger kids next season.

How would you teach a knuckleball to a 10 year old? What grip?

The three finger change is out, as it’s just too close in velocity to his fastball. He likes the palm ball and circle change. Maybe he’ll like the knuckle.

scorekeeper:

Take your meds.

My son started with the knuckle curve at 10. He ended up with a single spike, which was only slightly slower than his FB but very comfortable and easy to control, and a double knuckle, which was much slower and dropped, but didn’t feel as good. He also picked up the slurve, which is his favorite off-speed. There’s different grips, so let him experiment with them and find out which one feels best. And it seems his favorite changes week to week.

My only question is…you comment about “the palm ball (too slow)”, I really don’t think there is such a thing as “too slow” no way. If you are able to throw a change with the same arm action, way slow, then that is what I want to throw. Generally if you can take 5-7 mph off a pitch then that is what you want, 10 mph off the pitch, even better, 15…I would think you are unhittable.

I would work with the palm ball until he is comfortable.

Thanks West2East and Bu.

You’re probably right that the palm ball and knuckle are the way to go - the circle change might work later when his hands are bigger.

My comment about the palm ball being “too slow” was a poor choice of words. It’s really not. Most are decent speed, well below his fastball. It’s just that sometimes it will come out very slow, perhaps from too tight a grip?

Reading this I knew what I was going to say but Coach K beat me to the punch. The modified circle is a great change up for young kids because it works for there hand size and is an easier transition into a true circle change once they get older. Just remember when you throw it to hold it loose, like an egg and I dont think he will have to much problems with control either.

Ditto. My son has tried the circle change and to date doesn’t feel comfortable with the grip. Yet, when spring comes, we’ll work on it again. He sees Strasburg throw the 92 MPH circle C :slight_smile: and wants the same pitch. We teach the modified for 12U and under mostly because hands are still small.

If I’m reading you right, that sounds a little bit like the palm ball. Except I assume the grip is looser?

If I’m reading you right, that sounds a little bit like the palm ball. Except I assume the grip is looser?[/quote]

What I was suggesting is actually held almost exclusively in the fingers, rather than the palm. For the two fingers on the seams, the ball would be contact with the entire finger, and would rest more on the pad of your hand right below the fingers, rather than getting into your palm at all. I think I’m doing a lousy job of describing this in writing, but for me the key was always that I could feel the ball on my fingers, making it much easier to control that a traditional circle. Really though, the only right way to grip it is the way that the pitcher feels comfortable with.

And for me, this is not a pitch that I would resign to younger kids only. I threw this pitch all the way through college. This is the way Tom Glavine gripped his change-up too (more or less).

That’s what I thought. I’ll have him try it and see how he likes it. Thanks.

Keep it simple, try the 3/4 speed 2 seamer…ie., the BP Fastball. Simple to control, turn it over a little for run. Great for the young kids, as well as those at higher levels.

Truth is, there is no right or wrong way to throw it…just has to be done in a way that maintains fastball arm speed with great command of the strike zone.

If I’m reading you right, that sounds a little bit like the palm ball. Except I assume the grip is looser?[/quote]

What I was suggesting is actually held almost exclusively in the fingers, rather than the palm. For the two fingers on the seams, the ball would be contact with the entire finger, and would rest more on the pad of your hand right below the fingers, rather than getting into your palm at all. I think I’m doing a lousy job of describing this in writing, but for me the key was always that I could feel the ball on my fingers, making it much easier to control that a traditional circle. Really though, the only right way to grip it is the way that the pitcher feels comfortable with.

And for me, this is not a pitch that I would resign to younger kids only. I threw this pitch all the way through college. This is the way Tom Glavine gripped his change-up too (more or less).[/quote]

Worked on this grip with my 12 yr old. Holding it in the fingers. His fastball 53-55, change up with this grip 45-46 with no change in arm speed. His control of the pitch much improved from holding it in the palm. Thanks for the input on this !!