I believe the most effective change up is off the fastball because the hitter reads fastball rotation and arm action and must prepare and commit himself to the pitcher’s best velocity. The pitcher is trying to destroy the hitter’s timing and take away his aggressiveness. Of course, if a pitcher is a real hard thrower, the change is more effective because the hitter has to gear up for the good fastball.
If a pitcher throws an 85-87 m.p.h fastball, he will have an effective change at 72-78 m.p.h (10-15% off fastball velocity). A pitcher should not think the change up is only effective when it is missed. It really is not a strike out pitch, but a pitch that is miss timed causing weak contact. Even change ups out of the strike zone can be effective because it effects a hitter’s confidence that he can sit on the fastball.
The best times to change speeds are:
1. To big swingers
2. When the batter is ahead in count - 1-0, 2-1, or 2-0
3. When a hitter is trying to pull or is out in front of the pitches
1. The ball is gripped deep in the hand, balanced and held loosely. The ball should rest up against the top ridge of the palm or at the base of the fingers.
2. We prefer the 3 finger grip because we find it easier to control. For a RHP looking at the back of his hand, and the ball as a clock, place the thumb at 7 o’clock, the little finger at 5 o’clock and the first 3 fingers on top of the ball at 11, 12, 1 o’clock.
3. The finger tips and pads are raised slightly and the finger pressure is between the first and second finger joints
4. Don’t set the grip until the ball is hidden in the glove just before the hand break.
B. Arm Action
1. The arm action is just like the fast ball until the pitcher comes into the acceleration phase, then:
A. Bring the hand in closer to the head which causes the elbow to lead longer
B. Start an early pronation of the wrist
1. Upon release, the fingers are lifted off the ball, the ball rolls up the fingers.
2. The wrist and hand are pronated a little early which stops the wrist from popping forward. This takes velocity off the ball and creates movement.
3. On the follow through, collapse the body slightly. Don’t try to get too much backside drive and hip rotation into the pitch.
4. Work for full arm extension to the plate on the follow through just like on the fastball.
D. Common mistakes when throwing the change.
1. Slowing down the arm and body motion
2. Over emphasizing the fastball motion
3. Releasing the ball too much from the side caused by turning the hand over too much.
4. Dropping the hand and elbow and short arming across the body
5. Not working on and using the pitch enough to master it
If the pitcher can develop a good change up, his fastball will appear faster and the hitters will be less aggressive. The change up is more effective in college and pro baseball because the hitters are stronger, more aggressive and can handle a good fastball.
Learning how to throw various pitches
Even though thhis site describes a method of throwing five or six different pitches, it does not mean any pitcher should attempt to learn or throw all these pitches. High school and college pitchers should try to master three pitches. Even many major league pitchers are successful with 3 basic pitches. Some may add a specialty or fourth pitch as they get more experienced.
Youth pitchers, 14 and under, should concentrate on developing the fastball and learning to throw it to spots, plus learning to change speeds on the pitch. Pitchers who haven't reached puberty should not throw breaking pitches competitively due to their lack of muscle, ligament and bone development. The breaking pitches create more stress on the elbow joint and bicep in young pitchers may not be developed enough to properly decelerate the forearm.
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What do you think?
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How do you throw a change up? Are there any change up tips that I missed?
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