The Ole Ball Game

How to throw a change up

by Mike

Circle changeup grip

Circle changeup grip

Mike asked: When teaching a young player the circle change or any type of change up, how should they finish the pitch?

Do they finish with a fastball finish or simply open their fingers and let the ball come out?

Rick answered: Mike, thank you for your question!

Fastball finish.

In the picture above this pitcher is about to release a circle change. You can see the position of the thumb and index finger. The index finger and thumb touch or nearly touch. This grip provides quite a bit of movement; but is more difficult to master.

Another possible grip is a three fingered or pitchfork change. Three fingers on top of the ball, the thumb underneath and the little finger along the side.

Straight change up grips start with the ball in the palm of your hand. Having the ball located deep in your hand is what creates the change of speed you are looking for.

Arm and hand speed is what fools the hitters, they think it is a fastball. You are looking to create a change that is 8-15 MPH slower than your fastball.

In order to show the arm speed necessary to fool hitters, you should think,"I'm throwing a fastball with a different grip." Your grip accomplishes 100% of the work to slow the ball down.

My personal opinion is that it is one of the best pitches in baseball, at any level. While it is not something a player develops over night, it is a pitch you can easily work on while playing catch, getting used to the grip and experimenting with little adjustments to see what movement you can create that would add more to it.

Movement is desirable, but not at the expense of hand speed.

I watched Pedro Martinez, when he was with Boston, strike out a Yankee hitter in an ALCS game with 3 straight changeups, each one 4-5 mph slower than the one before, each with a little different motion. It was phenominal to watch.

Develop it in the pen, take it into the game and use it. It takes time to master, for it to be a pitch you need to be able to throw it for a strike a minimum of 70% of the time. Anything less, it is not a pitch, it is just something you throw.

Hitting is timing, pitching is the disruption of that timing! The changeup is an integral ingredient for keeping hitters off balance and getting them out.

Yours in baseball,


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