There are literally hundreds of different grips used by pitchers. One size does not fit all. My favorite grip for the changeup is not the “circle change.” If you are a player, a coach or a baseball parent and your son is a pitcher, try my favorite grip and you just might love it.
You really have to experiment and find out what is the most comfortable for you when it comes to different grips on the baseball. Baseball pitching tips involve experimenting with many different ways to grip your pitches and this most certainly applies to throwing the changeup. I would venture that 95% of all pitchers, at any level of play, use one of the following three grips for the changeup.
One of the very consistent things on the circle change is to remove index finger to the inside of the ball. The index finger is one of your two “power fingers” and you’re not looking for power when throwing the changeup. The other “power finger” is the middle finger. The index finger and thumb form a circle or an okay sign on the side of the baseball and that’s why it called what it is. A very common grip used by several professionals is with the middle and ring fingers on the seams like a 2-seamer. The index finger is curled on the side and rests either against the thumb or if you prefer, just next to it. Some pitchers prefer to put the index finger against the thumb nail. You can grip it like a two-seamer with the middle and ring fingers going along the seams.
One of the advantages of the circle change is that quite often it has movement down and away. One drawback is the circle change is tough to master and must be practiced often. Another drawback is that youngsters sometimes struggle throwing it because their fingers are not long enough. It can also be gripped across the seams. Like I said, find out what’s more comfortable in your hand.
The circle change can also be gripped similar to a four-seamer, having the fingers cross over the seams instead of the fingers riding the seams, forming a tic-tac-toe appearance with your fingers and the baseball. Some pitchers grip the ball a little deeper in their hand to slow it down a little. Many pitchers release it with their wrist fairly stiff and like they are pulling down a window shade.
As the name implies, the ball is “choked” back further in the hand. Generally, the more the ball is “choked” back in the hand, the slower the speed because the ball will not leave your hand as freely. There are many different grips used but the important part is the choking. Sometimes the choke change can be a little tough to control. The pressure points are on the first joints of the fingers and the thumb. Instead of having the loose, relaxed wrist like on the fastball, hold your wrist stiffer and straighter. A big advantage with the “choke change” is that many pitchers find it very comfortable. Let’s face it, it’s the normal grip like their fastball but it’s simply pushed back deeper in the hand. For some, it’s easy to learn.
The only real disadvantage to the choke change is that sometimes, before you learn it and get command of it, it may be high in the strike zone and that’s not where you want to be. Do you know what happens to high changeups? They never make it to the catcher. They usually make it over the left center or right center field fence. Don’t worry if you are bouncing some of them in the dirt but never miss high with your changeup!
This is my personal favorite! Why is it my favorite? First of all, it feels very comfortable in my hand. I find it very easy to throw over the plate, even though I’m an old bag! I played around with it while playing catch with my son and in no time it all, I was able to throw it pretty well. If I were still pitching, I would have to perfect the height as sometimes I am up in the zone.
I figure half the battle is over already because I can throw it over the plate, and now I just need to work on my height. This is the one I would teach to a youngster! If the youngster feels it is not comfortable, then I would experiment with some of the other grips instead. Like I said, one size does not fit all and you have to find the grip that is most comfortable for you!
The grip with the pitch fork change is like a four-seamer with the horse shoe either facing inside or to the outside. Basically, the only difference is that you include the ring finger also. Keep the three fingertips off the baseball and you sort of push the ball out instead of letting it spin freely like the four-seamer. Keep the ball choked back in the hand and don’t break your wrist when throwing it and keep your wrist straight. Follow through with your hand going straight down. Give this grip a try and you can always go back to your circle change if you want. But…you may not go back to the circle change and may really like this grip better. I’m an old bag and I can throw it pretty well so imagine what you can do.
Once again, one of the best baseball pitching tips to always remember is that catchers don’t catch high changeups. Spectators in the outfield seats catch them after they are hit over the fence. Never miss high with your changeup or you and I will no longer be on speaking terms! I post a new FREE baseball article on hitting, pitching or fielding EVERY Monday at LarryBaseball.com. Baseball parents who want to help their child, as well as players and coaches will benefit by reading them. Feel free to share the links with other baseball people you know and I promise you will be raising a few eyebrows!
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