Two weeks have passed so it is time for a new pitching blog. After the basics, as promised, I will write about some more advanced parts of pitching. And like I mentioned last week: the blogs go into more advanced information, please be aware of your own level, age, experience and take whatever you think you need to enhance your pitching, in a balanced way. So do not try this at home when you only just started pitching!
The first not fastball pitch I want to write about is, logically, the Change up. Why logically? Well, the Change up is besides the basics of the fastball, the most important pitch in a game. Hitting is all about timing, which makes pitching all about playing with the hitters timing. The most obvious pitch to use for that is the Change up.
Another reason to learn a Change up, before learning the other spins, is that the mechanics are quite similar to the fastball mechanics. It even is the key of the Change up to make it look like a fastball. The two differences with the fastball mechanics are:
- your body weight (center of mass), is shifted a bit (just a little bit, no leaning over) towards the catcher at release.
- your hand, wrist, fingers are going to slow down the pitch, instead of accelerating the ball.
Okay, the body is all set, let's talk about that second point just mentioned: the hand, wrist and fingers. The Change up is the one spin I think where there is only one rule, that leaves room unlimited options. The one rule for the Change up: while pitching it fast, it has to go slow. Approximately a 10mph difference with your fastball.
This one rule makes it hard to tell you how to grip this pitch, but I will give you the three most common ways to slow down the ball.
1. Turn your hand around right before release, this should give the ball a backwards spin which makes it slow down on it's way to the catcher.
2. Grip the ball in your palm instead of fingers. Where for a fastball you want as much wrist snap as you can get, for the change up you try to limit this as much as you can.
3. Put your finger(s) on the ball. Another way of eliminate a factor for speed. By putting your finger(s) on the ball you make them press on the ball, which puts tension on your lower arm, wrist muscles, which makes it impossible to use these for speed.
Now, what to do? My best advice, go try it out! I had like 20 different 'change ups' before I finally found something that works for me, and still up to today I keep messing around with grips and twists to make it a more effective pitch.
It is not about picking one or the other out of the three options, you can combine whatever you like as long as you can manage to: pitch it fast while making it go slow.
Are there any special drills for the change up? No, not really. You can use all the drills from the basics but now pitch a change up instead.
Another tip for practice, don't try endless change ups. As you will find out, you tend to slow down your motion in order to make the pitch go slower. Keep mixing your change up exercises with fastballs, that way you can feel your fast motion in between change ups and stay focused on good mechanics as well.
As we head into the Christmas break of 2017 I want to go ahead and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The next blog will go online on Monday January 1st when we hopefully all made it healthy and happy to 2018.
See you then and enjoy the days with your family, friends, food, drinks, oliebollen, fireworks, presents, santa, champagne or any other traditions. Stay safe though! :)