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 can leave batters thinking “what happened?”.
There are two fast balls you can use to find success: the two-seam and four-seam. The two-seam fastball tends to be the slower of the two pitches, but is very effective. The pitch will often move the ball downward or to the throwing-hand side of the plate.
To start, you have to have the right grip. Line your middle and index 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. 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. For the best grip, place your index and middle fingers across a line of the “horseshoe seam” that faces outward. Your thumb will 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, you throw the four-seam with an overhead swing. Use the closing of the blind motion to get used to the action.
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 can deceive the batter because this off-speed pitch is usually thrown 8 to 15 miles per hour slower than a fastball.
Place the ball in your hand and create a “C” or circle with your thumb and index finger. Next, 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.
While two of the most basics pitches you can use, the fastball and changeup are classics for a very good reason. With enough practice, both could add a devastating option to any pitcher’s repertoire.