Ever wonder how to throw a split finger fastball? The split finger, also known as the splitter, is deceiving because it appears to be a fastball; however it drops or fades down at the last second as it nears the plate. The splitter is 4-7 mph slower than your fastball. A common misconception about this pitch is that it is a fastball; its a changeup.
The hardest part about this pitch is the grip, simply because it is one of the only pitches you throw when the thumb and middle finger dont split the baseball in half.
How to throw a split finger fastball: To grip the split-finger place the index and middle finger on different sides of the two seams; splitting your two fingers. The V in the split takes the place of the middle finger. The further you split your fingers, the slower the ball goes. The pitch is thrown just like a fastball. The split finger is not meant to be thrown for a strike, but to upset the batters timing or prompt a swing and miss. Therefore, it is best to throw this pitch when you are ahead in the count or you feel the batter is anxious. It makes a great strikeout pitch.
At release you have to make sure that you dont twist your wrist. This is when the pitch can be dangerous for pitchers to throw. To avoid twisting your wrist at release, make sure that you grip the ball correctly by placing your thumb directly under the split fingers. (as shown in the illustration) Theres not much to explain about the Split Finger because there really isnt much to it. Remember to keep your fastball mechanics with a proper grip and it wont take you long to learn how to throw it.
You will hear many coaches say that the split finger is very hard on the elbow. They are right. However, most pitchers dont grip the ball correctly and twist the ball at release as mentioned earlier. Once you learn the correct pitching technique it isnt a problem at all. Dont overuse this pitch. A good ratio would be to throw the splitter 15-20 times out of 100 pitches.
Famous pitchers who throw the split finger fastball very well are Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens and John Smoltz.
Refer to this article often to ensure you really know how to throw a split finger fastball the correct way. Make sure you grip this pitch correctly and you don’t twist your wrist while throwing. Again, the pitching grip is that hardest thing about this pitch. Have fun!