There are two main goals a pitcher should have in mind with each pitch. The first and most important goal is to locate your pitch. The second should be to get movement on the baseball. We just talked about missing the barrel in a recent post, which is another goal to work on. The best way to help you miss the barrel is to work on developing late and sharp movement.
Let’s talk about a curveball. A big, loopy curveball looks like it is a great pitch, but the truth is it really isn’t. If we throw a curve with a huge break, it makes us think we have a really good one. But if you can see the huge break on your ball, so can everyone else especially the hitter. The loopy curveball allows the hitter time to see it, reload, and drive it. When you’re younger, hitters will struggle with it because they are not disciplined. But as you get older and begin to face better hitters, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So how do you work on it? As we have mentioned in an earlier post, you work on the spin. The curveball should be thrown just like you’re throwing a fastball. That way your arm action is the same and you’re not tipping your pitch off to the hitter. The difference is in the release. One way to think about it is to try and show the catcher your middle and index fingers as you pull down on the curve. Don’t try to make the ball break a lot. Throw that pitch hard and keep throwing it hard to work on developing a sharper break. There are a number of drills to help you work on the spin and a number of different grips. Find what works best for you.
A good 2-seam fastball is a must have in my opinion. Why? Because if you can throw inside to hitters with movement, it helps open up the plate. Here’s what I mean. If you’re a RHP (Right Handed Pitcher) and you throw a 2-seam inside to a RHH (Right Handed Hitter), it should move towards him/his hands. If your 2-seam has a late break to it, it is difficult for the hitter to square it up and may often get slightly jammed. This then gets into the hitter’s mind and he will also share that with his teammates. Now they have to respect the pitch inside and what does that do? It opens up the outside of the plate. It makes it easier for you because a hitter can’t just look for pitches on the outer half. A hitter also has to back off the plate a little to give himself a chance if you throw inside. But again, a slow pitch with a lot of movement gives the hitter a chance to see it. However, some movement is better than no movement.
A change-up should be throw exactly like a fastball with the only difference being the grip. Again, we want to find a grip that not only slows the ball down, but has some movement and sink. And of course we want to make sure the spin looks like a fastball and not like a knuckleball or slider.
Work on your grips and keep throwing the ball hard to help teach yourself how to develop tighter spin. The goal is not to see how much the ball moves, but how late the ball moves. It a pitch moves 10 inches and slow, it’s not as affective because it can be seen more easily. But if your pitch moves even one inch at the last split second, it will miss the barrel more times than not.