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Change Up

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

After learning to command the fastball in all three sections of the Go Zone with the two and four seam fastballs, it's now time to work on the change-up in the Go Zone. We have included the change-up grip that has proven most successful among pitchers we've taught. 

The change-up grip is a loose grip without any of your palm touching the ball.  It's a feel pitch. It takes touch, almost like a basketball shot. You can't have a basketball in your palm with tight fingers gripping the ball and expect to drain a 15-foot baseline jumper. Hold the ball softly with your fingers and use touch so you can get the shooters roll.  It's the same concept with a change-up. 

Hold the change-up with your middle and ring fingers with or across the seams. Your thumb is directly under the ball between your middle and ring finger. The index finger and pinky are resting on each side. Try to always keep the pinky above the height of the index finger on the other side.  This will keep your change-up from cutting like a curveball. 

Create backspin on the pitch to promote vertical downhill movement rather than flat horizontal movement. If you imagine a straight line from the middle of the rubber through the middle of the plate, and concentrate on taking your hand down through that line before release, it will create good backspin and vertical movement on your change-up. 

There are three parts of deception to a good change up, fastball arm-speed, a downhill plane on the pitch, and 8-12 MPH decrease in velocity from the fastball.  It is important to recognize that as long as the pitch is down in the Go or 4 Zone, it will be a quality pitch.  It does not have to be on an inside or outside corner to be effective. 

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Breaking Ball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

The Curveball Grip shown here is one of the most commonly used grips among professional pitchers. However, it is important to experiment with different grips that may work for you.  This particular grip has your middle finger and thumb with the majority of your total hand pressure. Your index finger should have little to no pressure on the ball with your thumb on the seam underneath.

Just before releasing the curveball, concentrate on pulling down on the top seam with the pressure of your middle finger while pushing up with the thumb on the bottom seam. This creates a higher percentage of top-spin, tilt, and depth on the ball for more vertical movement. The vertical movement you create will keep the ball off the plane of the bat and will look more enticing to hitters because the break stays on the plate instead of breaking sideways and off the plate.

As with all off speed pitches, it may take some time to get comfortable with the grip that works best for you.  Whichever grip you decide on, make sure you do not tip the hitters off by doing something like wiggling your glove while you secure your grip every time you throw an off-speed pitch.  As you move up the ranks in the game, hitters will pay closer attention to you movements and body language so they can get a better idea of what pitch is coming next.

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4 Seam Fastball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Generally the four-seam fastball is a straighter pitch with a 1-2 mph increase in velocity over the two-seam. When throwing opposite arm-side, righty away from righty or lefty away from lefty, you have the option to throw the four-seam straight fastball to avoid the ball moving back over the middle of the plate. The four-seam fastball opposite of arm-side is a good lock in pitch early in the count.

To execute a lock in pitch, you must have good extension and a good release point to get the ball to the other side of the plate. Once you find that release point and are “locked in”, you can begin to throw your other pitches in relation to the four-seam fastball release point with extension.

It is important to note that it can be very beneficial to be able to throw the two seam fastball in Zones 1-6.  The 4 seam opposite arm side will help keep the ball straight if you WANT it to stay straighter.  If you would rather have more movement then it would be a good idea to practice the 2 seam in all those Zones.

The 4 seam fastball is generally used when you need to elevate the ball to the top of the strike-zone (Freeze Zones) or above the strike-zone (Purpose Zones, Red Box). Some pitchers prefer to use the 2 seam fastball when throwing the arm-side Purpose Pitch so the movement of the ball helps get the pitch inside.  But others have found that the 2 seam can move too far inside and hit the batter.  Experiment with the 2 and 4 seam fastball in all Zones so you know what you do best.

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2 Seam Fastball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments


The grip on the seams of the baseball will determine the airflow around the ball while it is in flight.  This will effect the movement of the ball on the way to the plate. The two-seam fastball will have more movement than the four-seam. To get the best sink or vertical movement on your fastball, the spin on the ball should also be vertical instead of horizontal. Vertical spin is the same as direct backspin.

Sidespin on the ball will create a flat plane while backspin will create a sinking fastball. The two-seam generally moves down-and-in to a right-handed batter when thrown by a right-handed pitcher and two-seam thrown by a left-handed pitcher generally moves down-and-in to a left-handed batter.

The two-seam will be responsible for many of the ground balls you will induce. It will also help the downward plane of your fastball. When throwing a fastball in a fastball count, more times than not, the pitch should be two-seams to promote movement.

Whenever you aim for the 2 Zone with a fastball, it should be thrown with two-seams. If you ask a hitter whether he would rather see a pitch in the middle of the plate that was straight, or one that had movement, every hitter would rather see the straight pitch.  

One of the most important qualities of the 2 seam fastball is late movement.  The later in flight the ball sinks, the less time the hitter has to react to the movement of the pitch.  It doesn't take a lot of sinking action on the ball to move from the bat's sweet-spot to the bottom of the barrel, but it will take late movement. 

If the pitch has big and early movement (horizontal spin) the hitter will be able to recognize the pitch earlier in flight, time the pitch easier, and match the plane of the swing with the plane on the ball. Strive for short and late movement compared to big early movement on the 2 seam fastball.

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