Welcome to part 3 of our “how to pitch” series! If you’ve read the previous blogs, we bet you’re excited to start learning about off-speed and breaking pitches. this post teaches how to cast the change – the low speed cast of most launchers.
We’ll provide you with the basics of what a changeup is, as well as walk you through holds and signals so you can learn how to throw one yourself.
what makes a change?
A changeup is an off-speed pitch often used to match a pitcher’s fastball. As it travels toward home plate, a changeup will typically mirror the same trajectory as a heater and trick the batter into anticipating a pitch that may be 8 to 12 mph slower than expected. this gap in speed causes a timing difference, which throws hitters off balance and can lead to soft contact or hits and misses.
things to consider
How your changeup plays off the fastball is critical. still, it’s also important to consider other components such as your neck slot and the rest of your arsenal to determine how the tone suits you. changes may vary per caster depending on the type of rest they have.
Some changeups can have a deadly fading flick on the side of the arm, while others are more comparable to a “slower fastball” with very little flick. one thing to keep in mind: the more lateral spin imparted on the derailleur, the more horizontal travel it will produce. Creating sidespin is especially key for shooters with lower arm clearance, as it’s easier to hit a pitch that moves horizontally from an already low launch point.
The ability to maximize this component of his shot will likely increase his effectiveness because we want to create separation in the fastball’s movement. the greater the separation, the more we can create two pitches that move differently to deflect opposing hitters. this can give you an additional advantage, instead of relying solely on a speed difference.
grabbing a change
As we browse our grip tracking database, we notice that there tends to be a wide variety of preferences between grip types. this means that there is no one type of grip that stands out predominantly among the rest. For the sake of this blog, we’ll look at the grip our athletes use most often (35% of speed changes) internally: “ch 2”.
Channel 2 initially catches our eye because it is thrown similarly to a two-seam (“ft 1”) fastball or sinker with a two-seam orientation, but the main difference is using the non-dominant side from our hand. middle and ring fingers are placed on both seams to harness the ball so it rolls and spins on release.
It’s worth using the non-dominant side of your hand and moving your index finger to the side of the ball, as it slows down and helps generate lateral spin. this will help you land in the 8-12 mph range of your fastball and maximize horizontal movement. place your index finger on the side of the ball, comparable to placing your little finger on the opposite end. both fingers will help stabilize the ball as it is brought up from the glove to release.
Finally, the thumb is placed under the ball for control. the position shown in the video can be modified based on comfort. some may seek to place the ball directly below rather than to the side as a preference. In addition, you must hold the ball firmly in your hand. we recommend that your grip not be so loose that the ball slips, nor too tight, which could limit the amount of side spin you can generate when releasing.
how to throw a change
As mentioned above, our goal is to generate as much spin as possible to increase the amount of lateral arm movement and maximize fastball separation. To do this, we often instruct athletes to “hand roll the ball” or “slide the inside of the ball”. don’t be afraid to exaggerate those signals at launch. it can feel like the ball might slip, but comfort should come with practice.
Most right handed pitchers will have a speed change between 1:30 and 2:30 in the direction of spin. more sideways spin will come with a lower turn direction, and can even inching towards 3 o’clock or more. this will be a critical factor in determining the shape and motion profile of your derailleur.
analyze the movement of change
After testing your changeup in a bullpen session with a rapsodo, we expect this pitch to fall slightly below the fastballs (red baseballs) vertically and have more horizontal movement. the changes are highlighted in purple, but depending on your arm slot, their location on this graphic may vary. changes for a left-handed shooter would be reflected on the vertical axis.
In short, we’d expect a good changeup to have a clear difference to his fastball, with the greater separation between the two leading to a deadlier matchup.
additional grips and shift signals
Lastly, we provide additional change grips that are common among our athletes in the gym.
While holding the ball in a two-seam orientation is the most popular, we also see a four-seam grip being used. on channel 1, the pitcher holds the ball similar to a four-seam fastball and places his ring and middle fingers on the seams.
Some players will also try to move the ball more to the non-dominant side of their hand. in other words, the ring finger will move closer to the center of the baseball. we often see this with athletes looking to create an increase in lateral twist and have hands large enough to do so comfortably.
place the fingers inside or outside the seam is another variable to consider. most athletes will find that leveraging both fingers on the seams allows them to produce more feel or control of the release. as shown in “ch 3” and “ch 4”, this is not always the case. there are exceptions where an athlete may have more success placing the fingers outside the seam. each of these grips can be modified as they are slightly different.
on “ch 5” you will notice a completely different kind of grip. it is essentially a splitter and possesses a wide grip where the index and middle fingers are placed in stretched out positions on top of the baseball. this is common for athletes who have larger hands and fit the ball comfortably between their fingers. On average, we would expect this type of grip to produce significantly less twist and horizontal movement compared to other derailleur grips. therefore, this tone would fall or fade over the cymbal instead of fading off the side of the arm.
A splitter can be deadly when thrown correctly. While it’s a tough pitch to master, it can be a great alternative to a changeup, especially if you’re throwing from a higher arm slot and find it difficult to generate a side spin or fastball separation. remember, the main goal of dividers is to remove as many twists as possible. the lower the spin, the greater the dunk or drop, creating vertical separation from the fastball and causing hitters to swing above it.
Additional cues: “roll over the ball”, “throw it with your ring finger”, “pronate before”, “slide your finger inside the ball”, “think about having a doll flexible”. ”
four standard “ch 1” seams
four seams without seams “ch 3”
two seams without seams “4 channels”
hybrid split “ch 5”
Each individual will have to feel the different holds for themselves and decide if they should play a part in their repertoire. athletes must use a grip that allows them to manipulate the ball and its movement to their liking. that will determine the grip that is best for you. Going forward, we will continue to monitor the results of different holds from our internal athletes and report back.
by mike tampellini
read how to throw a cutter
read how to launch a slider
read how to throw a curveball
read how to throw a sinker fastball
read how to throw a four-seam fastball