Baseball Basics: Developing Your Fastball and Changeup

Boost your chances of strikeouts on the mound with these two effective pitches.

Many pitchers come into baseball hoping to develop a deep pitching arsenal. But the first two pitches every young player should learn as they take the mound are the fastball and changeup. Effectively executing these two pitches could leave batters thinking, “what happened?”

FASTBALL

There are two fastballs you can use to find success: the two-seam and four-seam fastball.

The two-seam fastball tends to be the slower of the two pitches. It will often move the ball downward or to the throwing-hand side of the plate.

To start, you need the proper grip. Line your index and middle fingers up by going with the seams. They aren’t required to be directly on the seams as your fingers can slide inside as well. Either way, make sure to keep a firm grip. The motion of the pitch should be similar to pulling down a blind and will create a whipping action.

Similar to the two-seam, the four-seam fastball gets an added boost of velocity. This pitch is used to challenge the batter’s reaction time. Grip the baseball by placing your index and middle fingers across the line of the “horseshoe seam” that faces outward. Your thumb should be underneath the ball and your hand should be in the form of a “C.” Keep your grip loose to minimize friction. Much like the two-seam, throw the four-seam with an overhead swing. Use the closing of the blind motion to get used to the action.

CHANGEUP

The changeup is aptly named. It is used to break away from the fastball and can change in speed. The rotation is similar to a fastball and is meant to deceive the batter because this off-speed pitch is usually thrown 8-15 miles per hour slower than a fastball.

Place the ball in your hand and create a “C” or circle shape with your thumb and index finger. Then, center the ball with your other three fingers. The throwing motion is a little different than that of the fastballs. Instead of “closing the blind,” your motion should be similar to that of painting a fence, as demonstrated in the video above.

The fastball and changeup are classic baseball pitches — and with good reason. Given enough practice and dedication, you could dominate the mound and become a batter’s worst nightmare.