As a program, we focus mostly on the 2 seamer, 4 seamer, changeup, curveball and now a knuckleball. However, due to some pitching coaches in our area that are teaching younger pitchers cutters and sliders, we will talk about these pitches as well with our guys. We don’t teach cutters or sliders to any players 16u and younger unless they already use the pitch, then we try to make sure they are as safe as possible with them.
A great video of Max Scherzer going over his pitch grips and how he throws them.
The 4 seam fastball is easier to locate and will usually be thrown harder than the 2 seamer. We always recommend using the 4 seamer if we need a strike or need to hit a spot to our glove side or up in the zone. You can throw 4 seamers all over the plate, but for us, we throw a ton of 2 seamers to our arm side.
Tips for the 4 Seamer
- Stay behind the baseball.
- Some pitchers like to tuck the thumb underneath the ball.
- Some pitchers like to keep their index and middle fingers closer together.
- Get extended.
A good 2 seamer with run and sink can be filthy. This pitch usually works well to a pitcher’s arm side, but we do spend a lot of time training our pitchers to throw it to their glove side as well. For some, this pitch is going to take several years to master, but if they start working on it when they are younger, they should have a better feel for it when they are older.
Tips for the 2 Seamer
- Practice, Practice, Practice. This is a total feel pitch. It can be a great pitch if you can master it. If not, it’s just a slower fastball.
- More finger pressure on the index finger.
- Some of the 3/4 or sidearm guys will actually use their middle finger to put more pressure on the ball.
- Early pronation.
- For throwing glove side – stride a little towards your glove side, but stay closed with your shoulders just like you would when throwing arm side.
- Turn your wrist slightly to give it the same angle that it would be at if you were throwing with a 3/4 arm slot. It may feel a little weird at first, but it works. We do this with a lot of our pitchers who throw from over the top.
- Get extended!!! Throw the heck out of it. Watch as explosive the big leaguers get as they release the ball. Too many younger players will be way too passive with this pitch. Get extended and finish the pitch.
- More Tips & 2 Seamer Videos
Go to our 2 Seam Fastball Page for more tips.
You can pitch without a changeup, but we would prefer that you have a good one. A good changeup is so important to keep a hitter off balanced. If you have a good fastball, a changeup is the ultimate compliment. Some of our best pitchers in the program have been fastball – changeup guys.
Tips for the Changeup
- Get comfortable with your preferred grip. There are a few different grips. Find one that works for you and stick with it.
- Loose wrist, but same arm speed as fastball. This pitch needs to look like a fastball out of the hand.
- Early pronation. Whether you think just turn it over, get over the ball with your middle or ring finger, turn your thumb in, these tips all work, just try to keep your pinky finger on top of the ball as you turn it over. Stay on top of this pitch with your pinky finger so you can get the sink.
- More Tips & Changeup Videos
Go to our Changeup Page for more tips.
The science says that if you throw with proper mechanics, the curveball doesn’t cause any additional stress on the arm. There are many in the baseball community that still haven’t bought into the new science, but we have as a program. We still don’t teach curveballs to our 6th graders on down. It starts at 13u for us or with some of our 12u guys who are playing down. Many of the younger kids will drop their elbow and get around this pitch. We need to avoid that completely. We stress getting our arm up and staying on top of the baseball when throwing the curveball. With good mechanics, the pitch works better and it is safer on the arm.
Tips for the Curveball
- Stay on top of it and get extended out front.
- More spin, more break. Get better with your spin rate and you will have a nastier curveball.
- More Tips & Curveball Videos
Go to our Curveball Page for more tips.
Knuckleball is Coming
We are adding the knuckleball to our training program this winter. For us, we do have some B teams and we take some development kids in our program. We spend a lot of time getting their arm strength up and teaching them changeups. However, without good velocity on the mound, the changeup really isn’t very effective at all. Instead of a good fastball-changeup combination, it’s just slow and slower. For the winter of 2017/18, we will be spending a lot of time throwing knuckleballs. More information coming later in the fall.