Looking back on childhood, one of the earliest memories that you will have will likely be playing games of catch in the backyard with your parents. Throwing a ball around the yard is a staple of every child’s life and often continues later in life through the little league or just playing baseball in the neighborhood. Back then, throwing a baseball was as simple as just tossing it over to the next kid but as time progresses, and kids begin to watch major league pitchers throw the ball so it moves in crazy ways when heading to the batter. This list gives those kids an opportunity to learn how to throw a baseball in five unique ways.
A fastball may be the most common way to throw the ball, as it is a pitch that relies on speed much more than movement. Those who can throw a fastball with all their might can often throw the ball at over 100 mph.
But while the speed of the pitch is certainly an important factor, being able to control where the pitch goes with the speed is crucial, as you could throw it with great velocity but it won’t matter if the pitch ends up hitting the batter. While the fastball seems like a pretty straightforward pitch in a player’s arsenal, there are two specific ways to throw a fastball, a four-seam fastball or a two-seam fastball.
Beginning with the four-seam fastball, this is the more common of the two fastballs. To throw this pitch, you should grip the ball in your hand softly, leaving a small gap between your palm and the ball itself. Finger positioning is important with this pitch, with your thumb almost dividing your index and middle fingers. Your ring finger should be placed on the horseshoe seam of the ball, this way the four seams all rotate backward heading to the plate.
The two-seam fastball is very similar to the four-seam fastball but it adds a little bit of movement to the pitch while taking away a little velocity. To master this pitch, your middle and index fingers have to be placed on the narrow seams of the ball, rather than across from them. This video shows a more visual way of throwing a fastball.
The slider is a pitcher’s ultimate complimentary pitch, especially for someone who uses the fastball as their primary pitch. While the slider takes a fair amount of velocity off of a pitch, the deception and movement.
While velocity typically dips when a pitcher throws a slider, some players are able to combine the speed and movement in order to create a devastating strikeout pitch that is almost unhittable. While the slider remains a common pitch in many players’ repertoire, it is important to make sure that you throw the pitch the correct way in order to avoid injuries.
The first step to mastering this pitch is to get the grip down. There are many ways to grip the ball when throwing this pitch but the first step should be putting your middle and index fingers on top of one of the seams. It is usually best, then, to hold the outer half of the baseball only while applying a pressure on the ball from the tip of the middle finger. Your thumb can then be based either on the bottom of the ball or opposite of your other fingers, whichever is more comfortable and effective.
After getting the grip down, the throwing motion and speed should be similar to how you would throw a fastball but you want the ball to simply roll off of your index finger and thumb. If this is done right, the ball should do all of the work. Here is a more visual example of how to throw the slider.
Changing from the previous two ways to throw a baseball, which resulted in a high-velocity pitch that can sit around 90 mph, the next pitch that will be examined is the aptly named changeup. The changeup is another nice alternative for a player to have when their main pitch is a fastball. This is because the changeup comes out of a player’s hand looking exactly like a fastball, only ten miles per hour slower and it drops once it gets to the plate.
For major leaguers, this deception can be the best tool they can use to get batters out. Because this pitch requires so much deception and a drop in velocity, it is a more complicated pitch than the before mentioned fastball and slider.
Like the fastball, there are many different ways that you can grip a changeup depending on the type you want to throw and what feels comfortable for you. The easiest changeup to throw is the three-finger changeup. This requires that the pitcher puts their index, middle and ring fingers across the seam of the ball with the thumb and pinky on the side of the ball. Another option is the two-seam changeup, which requires that middle and index fingers settle right in between the two seams of the ball.
The final, and most challenging, changeup to throw is the circle change. This requires that your thumb and index fingers sit on the ball as to form a circle, while the top two fingers stretch across the seams, much like for a four-seam fastball. It is important that when you throw this pitch, like with the slider, that you throw it just as hard as the fastball and let the grip do the work. Since it may be hard to visualize exactly how to throw the circle change, this video provides a more visual perspective.
The curveball is in a class all its own when comparing it to the other pitches that we have looked at on this list. It is a unique way to throw a baseball and results in ridiculous movement. While it lacks all of the velocity of the fastball, slider, and even the changeup, the way the ball moves is insane.
The ball could come out of a player’s hand and look like it is going to be high and out of the strike zone but once the ball arrives, it ends up being right down the middle for a strike. Once mastered, some pitchers can throw it where it will move 10 inches or more from its original release point.
There is a lot more that goes into throwing an effective curveball than in any other pitch in baseball, this is why some players don’t even care to learn how. The key to throwing the curve is the middle finger. It is crucial that the middle finger is placed on top of the ball, straddling the seam. There are infinite possibilities of where to place your other fingers on the ball to throw it this way but the middle finger is the necessity.
Other than the grip there are other things that make throwing this pitch difficult. While you throw with the same strength of a fastball, the path of your throw must come a little closer to your head than that of a fastball. And instead of releasing the ball out in front of your body, to release the curveball, you must have your hand close to your body and your wrist should be hooked with your hand pulling down towards your body. While this is a complicated pitch to learn, this instructional video provides a more step by step process.
The last and definitely most interesting way to throw a ball is the famous knuckleball. Some people do not even know of this pitch’s existence because it is so rarely used outside of games on the playground. But there are some people who use the knuckleball as their main pitch. In fact, pitcher Tim Wakefield built his entire career on using the knuckleball with tremendous success.
The thing about the knuckleball is that when it is thrown, no one, especially the pitcher, knows where the ball will end up. It is the ultimate risk pitch. This pitch is also the slowest way to throw a ball, outside of just simply tossing it. So how does one throw this incredibly unique pitch?
To throw the perfect knuckleball, the goal is to eliminate as much spin on the ball as possible so that the air resistance makes the ball move in different directions. To do this, the first thing that you have to do is grip the ball with just your fingertips and nothing else. The ball should rest in your palm, giving the ball forward momentum on the pitch, and the last three fingers to touch the ball should be the thumb, index finger, and middle finger.
These three fingers should apply a triangle type of pressure that results in a lack of spin coming from the ball. From there, gravity and air resistance move the ball whichever way it wants. To see how to perfect the knuckleball, take a look at this video.
From this list, it is obvious that there are so many different ways to throw a baseball and make it move the way you want to. And there are even more ways to throw a ball that this list doesn’t even address. So next time that you are out tossing a ball around in the yard, maybe take a peek at this list and try out some new ways to throw the ball that you had never thought of before. And if you like the list that is provided here, make sure to check out other content in order to sharpen your baseball knowledge and skills.