I began playing baseball at age ten, late for many kids. Because I was always big for my age, I found myself on the pitching mound a lot. I threw hard and enjoyed the feeling of striking kids out. What kid who throws hard doesn’t right? I continued striking out hitters through high school with a good fastball and curveball.
As I entered college my coach told me that I had to develop my change up more to keep hitters off balance. While I didn’t fully see the need to add the change at that point early my freshman year, I worked on one nevertheless. I couldn’t figure out the circle change as the grip never seemed comfortable enough for me to locate the pitch well. I ended up just messing with a few different grips each time I would warm up before practice. They were strange grips, the kind that no coach would show you. I finally found a grip that allowed the ball to come off my hand and tail away. I just grabbed my four seam fastball grip but instead of having the thumb under the baseball, I brought it up the inside of the baseball and rested it against outside of my index finger. I knew this was the change up grip I would got with.
I continued to experiment with different wrist and forearm angles until I got the movement I was looking for. I fell in love so much with the change up that I totally changed my pitching approach. No longer did I want to strike everyone out, but I wanted to make as many hitters uncomfortable and foolish looking as I could. The more off balance I could get hitters, the better. I finished that season 10-1 and solely contribute my success to the change up that I was willing to tinker with that fall of my freshman year in college.
To this day I make sure all the pitchers I work with are developing a good change up. I don’t let kids get away with the attitude I possessed in high school (strike everyone out), it caps their potential. I want to see my ten year olds working on a change up. It’s a must for any youth pitcher to be able to change speeds with location. This is why disk 2 in our pitching series spends so much time on the change up and curveball. They are hugely important to learn properly in order to avoid injury.
Yesterday I wrote about educating yourself on pitching mechanics. Today, I’m emphasizing the importance of learning proper pitching grips. Let our pitching series guide your education and training.
Who knows, maybe you’re training the next Trevor Hoffman this fall!