Which Change-Up Grip is Right For You?

Which Change Up Grip is Best For You?

Four-Seam and Two-Seam Change-Up Grip

Last week I made a video talking about three finger fastballs and how a traditional two-seam or four-seam grip can be affected by hand size. And how switching to a 3 finger grip can be efficient for young throwers.

Usually the second pitch every pitcher learns after a fastball is a changeup. Most pitchers throw some form of a circle change. Which was most effective for me as a pitcher. However, there are a couple of different ways you can grip that pitch.

I would pinch the index finger with my thumb (seen below). Some people make a circle and others grip a two-seam with the middle and ring finger on the seams.

Four-Seam Circle CH Grip
Four-Seam Circle CH Grip
Two-Seam Circle CH Grip
Two-Seam Circle CH Grip

The Claw Change-Up Grip

For some of my younger throwers with smaller hands, one of the issues with throwing the circle change is that their hand really is not big enough. Because of this, we see them start to push the ball instead of throwing it. This causes the ball to come out of the side of the hand.

Other young throwers use the claw grip for a change-up. Or something that looks similar to the three-finger fastball. What a lot of them don't realize is that there isn't really a difference in velocity.

The Claw Change-Up Grip
The Claw Change-Up Grip

The Foch or Fork Change-Up

Most young throwers don't get much time with a radar gun. We are fortunate enough to have one at our indoor facility. The adverse effect of having that information and being able to see that there is not much velocity difference between those two pitches.

That brings me to my next point and probably the most important.

The change-up has to be thrown with intent.
  • Pitchers have a tendency when throwing offspeed pitches to not maintain intent. Which is probably the most important step that's missed.
  • Pitchers start to develop this sense consciously or subconsciously that in order to be effective with their off-speed they have to slow the pitch down and they do so by slowing down their motion which of course is not something that we want.
  • I believe for our younger throwers this inefficiency can hurt their fastball development, most young pitchers need to focus on throwing their fastball with intent to different parts of the zone.
  • We need to establish the idea of intent or that we're trying to make everything look like a fastball both with our body and our arm action and then letting the grip, hand placement at release and finger pressure dictate the path and the speed of the pitch instead of slowing our body down. 

How Hand Size Can Factor

As pitchers get older and their hand size changes, then they can really start messing with different breaking pitches or change-ups. We have been playing around with a few different grips and allowing them to figure what feels right and what works best for each individual.

The Foch or Fork change is a grip that has helped throwers both young and old maintain intent while becoming more consistent in the zone with their change-up.

The "Foch" Change-Up Grip
The Foch Change-Up Grip
"Foch" Palm Ball Change-Up Grip
"Foch" Palm Ball Change-Up Grip

For my older guys who have bigger hands, we have them take their ring and pinky fingers off. The while younger throwers keep them which is a more comfortable variation of a palm ball that gives them a better feel. This allows them to get their hand to a better position at release.

Don't be afraid to mess around with different grips. One of the best things about the change-up and pitching is that it's okay to change and try new things. Take control of your stuff. Figure out what feels good to you and what works best to produce the outcome you are looking for. 

What I would like everyone to take away from this is are you creating and setting up a foundation for a pitcher who's going to be successful with what they're doing now when they're older? Do not get caught up in allowing inefficiencies to exist because they are having success at a young age.

Throwing a change-up that meets a standard velocity difference that everyone knows is coming. If the pitcher slows down does nothing for their overall development. It only creates problems that might be hard to break as they get older.

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Which Change-Up Grip is Right For You_

Which Change-Up Grip is Right For You?

A look at how hand size and intent affect a pitchers ability to throw quality change ups and some alternative change up options for young and old throwers alike.

Arm Health and Velocity Development for Position Players

Arm Health and Velocity Development for Position Players

Everyone knows that arm health and velocity are two important factors for all ball players, but too often we only reference them from the pitcher’s perspective

Two Finger vs Three Finger Fastball

Youth Players: Should You Throw your Fastball with Two Fingers or Three Fingers?

Prior to getting shut down due to COVID-19, we had many kids in the facility ramping up for their season. That included a lot of young pitchers. One issue I noticed from quite a few of my throwers was that their fastball tended to have slider spin and would cut.

After, working through a better arm circle and arm path I noticed that the problem persisted. Using an iPhone I was able to take slow-motion video. I realized that many of the throwers were on the side of the ball at release and not behind it. In order to fix this, I tried to move their thumb underneath the ball. This creates a triangle between the index, middle finger, and thumb.

Due to hand size, this was uncomfortable for most of the throwers. It also did not alleviate the issue so we made the switch to a three-finger fastball. The three-finger fastball grip allowed throwers with smaller hands to get behind the ball. This generates better spin and direction, which also led to some increased velocity. Obviously, for younger clients, velocity is not the biggest concern. But it never hurts to see velo go up along with accuracy and consistency.

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Arm Health and Velocity Development For Position Players

Between on the foam rolls, lacrosse ball roll-out, dynamics, bands, wrist weights, shoulder tube and plyo balls for pitchers, there is an assortment of tools to help them get ready to throw. These same tools are also used in a multitude of ways. All in order to help pitchers throw harder and more efficiently.

However, for most position players their daily throwing routine looks very different. Some stretching, lite bands and then they grab a baseball. The arm issues I see from position players that come through the facility are usually the same problems I see from pitchers' poor mechanics or lack of preparation for the body to move. 

The first position player I worked with is a 14-year-old softball player. She was experiencing shoulder pain after throwing. Like most softball players I see she separated into a soft M or inverted W whichever you prefer to call it. Because of this, she then pushed forward with the upper body disconnecting the arm.

Inverted W
The Inverted "W"

The Next Steps in Arm Care for Position Players

Our goal was to get her connected to the body in order to get the throwing hand up on time so she could get to a proper lay back to throw progression. This mechanical change on her part led to relieving stress on the shoulder and bicep. We also saw an increase in velocity. 

I started by introducing a dynamic warmup and band routine which she now uses on a regular basis. We relied a lot on connection ball throwing drills. The connection ball has been an awesome tool for players of all ages. I highly suggest adding this tool to your bag if you are an instructor or coach.

TM connection ball throw
Connection Ball From Oates Specialties

Velocity Development For Position Players 

The same principles that apply to develop higher exit velocities and more distance in hitting apply to throw harder in pitching. It's all about force production and mechanical efficiency. For most players, higher force production develops a few different ways. The most common is moving with more intent, natural growth that comes with age and the weight room.  

The second position player I worked with is currently a college player who had developed a 'hitch' in his throwing motion. This caused a loss in velocity and accuracy. At first, I thought reliance on mechanics would be the route necessary to make the changes he needed. But, lots of slow-motion videos and 'feel' was the answer. After watching the video and implementing the use of the connection ball he was able to better understand what his arm was doing and why he was having an issue.

LD old throw
Before
After
After

The hitch he had developed not only caused some accuracy issues but had affected his velocity as well as willingness to “cut it loose”.

After a few lessons and plenty of work in between, he was able to develop a more consistent arm circle that was hitch-free. This more efficient movement pattern allowed him to attack his throw with a much higher level of intent and took him from the low to mid 80’s to the low 90’s with his shuffle throws as well as a confidence boost on the field.

Why Arm Health and Velocity Development Matter 

The first part of the headline is obvious. We want players to be healthy and there are ways to help ensure that players can continue to play pain-free. That being said injuries, after all, are unavoidable. We as instructors and coaches can take the proper steps to ensure a better environment. This is by monitoring how players warmup and taking a closer look at how they throw.

For the individuals above it was important to them for a multitude of reasons. One player wanted to be pain-free and enhance a part of her game that would help her get noticed by college coaches. The other player wanted to secure a starting spot by adding a tool that would make him a better asset on the field. The real importance of both arm health and velo development for position players is treating them like all other parts of player development. And giving them the necessary attention needed to keep players on the field or help them find playing time.

Interested in online overhand throwing lessons for position players for both baseball and softball?

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Sit Down with Minnesota Twins RHP Zack Littell

Inside the Mind of a Major League Pitcher

Earlier this week I got a chance to sit down with Zack Littell, of the Minnesota Twins. Being able to open the mind and hear directly from a Major League pitcher about their craft is awesome. Here is someone who is amongst the best of the best in what he does in the entire world and being able to pick his brain and have him give our readers some advice is something we are very thankful for.

Here are some things that Zack will talk about throughout our conversation, don't miss it:

  • Pitching Mechanics
  • Pitch Sequencing
  • Mental Approach
  • Pitch Arsenal and How to Use It
  • How to Bounce Back After a Bad Pitch
  • And much more!

Check out the video below.

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Many throwers tend to start their drive phase too early, causing early extension of the back hip. This can push the torso forward, disconnecting the timing and position of the arm.

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Run and Gun Throws

Many have criticized the videos that are posted all over social media with guys running/jogging into a shuffle/etc. and throwing a ball into a net with the radar gun flashing big numbers. If you believe in a long toss program, such as Jaegers well known long toss routine, then you love what all those crazy kids are doing on social media. Pull down throws are super important when it comes to the arm strength development of players. 

There are really great things being accomplished when a player performs a pull down run and gun throw. The main purpose of them is for us as trainers/coaches/teachers are to see how the body goes through its progression of the kinematic sequence and how to properly translate it to everyday use.

So for instance, if you do a long toss program that incorporates pulldowns which any good program should, this will help you better understand how properly execute a run and gun throw. 

Run and Gun's and Pull Downs Are All Over The Diamond

But I don't pitch, why should I do a pull-down? Well, let's take you through all the different types of run and gun throws that happen during a baseball game or practice:

1. Infielders Throwing Across the Diamond

Sano Pull Down

2. Outfielders Throwing to a Base

Rosario

3. Catcher Throwing to a Base

Sanchez

4. Pitcher Delivering a Pitch

Scherzer

5. Pre-Game Long Toss? OH YEAH!

Trevor

How to Execute a Run & Gun Pull Down

Here are three things you'll want to look for when executing a successful run and gun throw:

  1. Proper "On-Ramping" Program: You want to make sure that your players are ready and prepared to throw with this velocity and effort. Simply taking a player and having them throw a baseball as hard as they can when they're not prepared could be devastating. You would never have a player put 315 pounds on a squat bar if they have not built themselves up to that first
  2. Throw With Intent: This isn't a 'feel-good' get loose kind of throwing attempt. You want to make sure your players understand that this throw must be delivered with high intensity and effort. You are trying to train and push the arm and body to get the most out of it.
  3. Track Progress: You MUST be able to show that the pull-down throwing progression is bringing progress to your players. Using a radar gun when it comes to tracking throws is vital for the continuing development of your players.

What Are You Doing to Increase Your Arm Strength?

As you can see, every single one of those throws was max effort and max intent. Baseball players must put themselves in the best position to be successful in all aspects of the game. If you disagree with the 'pull-down' and 'run and gun' method of throwing then think about what the first question a scout should ask when evaluating someone's arm:

"How hard does he throw?"

Now velocity is not the end all be all by any means but it definitely is a factor that most look at. So I challenge you as coaches, parents, etc. to film your athlete performing Run & Guns/Pulldowns or whatever it is you feel comfortable calling it and record it if possible with a radar gun to get a baseline so you know where they are at and where they need to go.

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