Understanding Pitching Grips and Knowing What to Throw
By Dave Rosene
In youth baseball all grips are straight ball grips. I hesitate to say fastball because the pitches don't travel that fast. Let's just say the grips are preliminarily fastball. The standard way to grip the ball to throw is with the index and middle fingers on top of the ball with the thumb underneath the ball and the ring and little finger bent and supporting the ball on the side. It is allowable if you have players with small hands to let them throw with the ring finger on top. To pitch you can throw the ball with the seam (2-seam) or against the seam (4-seam), and you can hold the ball in a variety of ways depending on the accuracy and velocity of your pitches. With the 2-seam grip you can hold the ball in the neck at the seam's narrowest point, at the horseshoe on the top of the 2-seam, or you can place your fingers across both seams which could cause the ball to sink. With the 4-seam grip you can hold the ball in the middle of the 4-seams, with the horseshoe closest to the middle finger, or with the horseshoe closest to the index finger. Again the grip which you get the best action on the ball is the grip you should use. You can also put your ring and little fingers on top of the ball for a natural changeup. Never on the youth level teach any advanced pitches like the circle changeup, palmball, fork ball, split-finger fast ball, or cut fast ball. Concentrate on having your players master the eventual fast ball and natural changeup grips, the two best pitches in baseball.
Practicing what pitches to throw in different counts is imperative in the growth of young pitchers. The areas of concentration should be pitches to use when pitchers are behind or ahead in the count. Pitchers must work to develop and master a 'go-to' pitch, a pitch you can throw anytime for a strike. When you get behind in the count 2-0, 2-1 or 3-1, you must have that type of pitch to prevent big innings and give your team a chance to win. The hitters will know that you have a strike pitch and will be ready to hit, but if you include great location you will give yourself and the 8 players behind you an opportunity to make a play. When pitchers are ahead in the count 0-2 or 1-2, they should have developed a pitch or control a location that more often than not will put hitters away. You practice that pitch by experimenting with grips, arm angles, spin and hand speed to come up with an 'out' pitch that will control hitters' bat speed, making them more likely to strike out or hit the ball weakly.
Dave Rosene - Co-Founder, DNA Sports
DNA Sports specializes in personalized baseball and softball skill programs, college recruiting education and preparation, and coaching clinics. Learn more: http://www.dnasportsonline.com
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