If you’ve been around pitchers for more than 5 seconds you know how obsessed they are with speed. It seems like enough is never enough when it comes to a pitcher and her speed.
Check out some great advice you can give your pitchers that will greatly increase their speed.
Increasing a pitcher’s speed is possible with a refinement of her mechanics but only to a certain degree. All pitchers have a ceiling on their speed – a level where, no matter how perfect their fundamentals are, they’ll never throw faster. While this ceiling never seems to be high enough to a pitcher, what’s really important is that getting faster isn’t the key to a pitcher’s success.
From a hitter’s point of view, hitting a fast pitcher simply requires timing. Hitters eventually time fast pitching, and when they do they hit balls even farther since the pitcher supplies most of the power. However, if a pitcher really wants to get faster AND throw the hitter’s timing off – then she needs to master her Change Up! The Change Up is possibly the most important pitch a pitcher can have!
While most pitchers think they have a change up, they seem to be in constant search of a new one. For some reason, they think since the pitch goes slower the learning curve should be less. Maybe that’s why pitchers are constantly searching for a new way to throw this pitch instead of simply putting in the time to practice the change up they already have.
If your pitcher is struggling to find the best change up for her, she should Experiment. She should try the Backhand or Palm Forward type (doesn’t matter) and see which one she can throw the slowest. Having control doesn’t matter during this phase since she is only experimenting to see which type of change up she can throw slowly – not perfectly. What’s important when picking a changeup is that your pitcher be able to pitch the ball slower.
Now, if your pitcher already has a change up but it isn’t what it needs to be, let’s look at 4 issues that are critical to the change up:
- The Speed – The speed for the change up obviously needs to be s-l-o-w, and it’s the grip and release that create the slow speed. So if your pitcher’s change up is too fast then check to make sure that the ball is deep in your pitcher’s hand, and that she’s got the brakes of her hand on the ball. The picture on the right shows a pitcher’s hand and how the long part of the fingers and the palm are the Brakes (B) and the pads or snapping part of the fingers are the Speed (S) parts. When a pitcher throws a change up – either the backhand or the palm forward – she needs to keep the brakes on the ball to help slow it down. With the back of the hand change up pitchers will often get too much speed on the pitch if they wait too long to turn their hand. Pitchers should turn their hand backwards at the top of their arm swing instead of waiting to turn it as they release the ball.
- Distance – Distance is the other problem with the change up, and yet it’s probably the easiest problem to fix. While grip and release are the things that make a change up go slow, fastball hand speed at release is what a pitcher must achieve to get fastball distance on the pitch. Too many pitchers slow down when releasing the ball in order to try and make the ball go slow and as a result, they end up losing distance on the pitch. Hand speed at release is distance on a change up so if your pitcher’s change up is falling short in the dirt then get her to explode her hand through the release point.
- Accuracy – Change up accuracy is a lot like fastball accuracy, basically the ball goes where the pitcher’s palm is pointing at release. With that in mind the Back of Hand change up pitchers will need to take their fingers to the glove on the follow through and the Palm Forward pitchers will need to shove their palm at the catcher. In addition, here are some other tips for helping the accuracy of your pitcher’s change up: Follow through to the glove vs stopping at the release point, For the Palm Forward change up keep the fingers stiff until the catcher catches the ball, PRACTICE! – in fact, make at least one day a week Change up day, and finally alternate change ups in with the faster pitches instead of just throwing millions of changeups in a row. Have your pitchers throw a fast pitch, followed by a change up, then fast, then change, then fast, then change. Work with your pitchers to alternate their change up with each of their other pitches continually throughout the week.
- Tipping the Pitch – Finally, it’s vital when throwing a changeup that the pitcher not tip her change up, or do anything to let the opponents know it’s coming. The most common ways that pitchers tip their change ups include: Taking too long to grip the pitch, struggling to grip the pitch, gripping the pitch outside of the glove, slowing down the stride (this is really common so watch for this in all pitchers), and finally slowing down the arm swing.
Having a dependable change up is the quickest way for a pitcher to get faster and to disrupt the timing, balance and confidence of the opposing hitters. Learn to dominate your Change Up and you’ll be on your way to dominating the batters, and to pitching faster!
For more help in developing your pitcher’s Change Up as well as her other pitches, check out the following:
- Book: The Complete Book of Pitching
- DVD: Breaking Down the Pitching Motion
- DVD: Advanced Motion Pitches – The Riseball and Screwball
- DVD: Controlling Critical Counts and Pitching Drill Mania
- DVD: Pitching Problems & Corrections
- DVD: All 4 DVD set
- eDrills: Pitching eDrills
- eClinics: Pitching eClinics
- Pitching Training Aids
- Vault Classic™