Ever wondered why professional baseball pitchers rotate the ball in their hand before a throw? They’re finding the best baseball throwing grip so the ball can go faster or slower in the direction they want.
Knowing how to grip a baseball in various ways enables a pitcher to make the ball rise, drop, curve, change speed and direction, or simply go faster. Read on to find out how the proper baseball grip can create more accuracy on your throws.
Getting Familiar With the Standard Baseball
That little white ball with red stitching may seem ordinary to the average person, but there are a few fun facts about baseball that may interest you. For starters, those red cotton stitches aren’t just there for decorative purposes.
Every official major league baseball has exactly 216 raised stitches of a specified seam height, a feature that significantly affects its trajectory when thrown.
The interaction of the stitching and the air closest to the ball’s surface dictates how far, how fast, and where the ball goes when it leaves the pitcher’s hand.
Why stitches on the seams of a baseball are specifically red isn’t also incidental. They used to be in natural cowhide color before the 1900s, then black or blue at the turn of the century.
Decades later, MLB decided on the official red standard due to its high contrast and visibility.
Different Ways to Grip a Baseball When Throwing
Now that you know why a baseball comes with stitches and seams, let’s explore how you can use these features to power up your throws. We’ve put together our very own baseball pitching grips cheat sheet to help you develop the correct baseball grip for various pitching techniques.
There are different ways to hold the baseball with finger positions to produce a good launch.
However, we will limit our discussion to the more commonly used pitches: the four seam baseball grip, the two-seam grip, the curveball, the slider, and the changeup.
Grip #1: The Four Seam Grip
This is the first and most common baseball grip taught to anyone who wishes to become a pitcher. Besides delivering a fastball, the 4 seam baseball grip gives the pitcher good control over where they target a pitch.
Steps to gripping a four-seam fastball:
- Step 1: Place the tips of your index and middle fingers along the horizontal seams of the ball.
- Step 2: Position your thumb directly beneath the ball, making sure the tip rests on the leather and not on the seam.
- Step 3: Adjust the ball to sit at least an inch away from your palm. You should be holding it by the fingertips, so there’s no friction between the ball and your hand, allowing the ball to leave faster.
- Step 4: Pitch the ball at full speed. From the batter’s end, he will see four parallel seams swirling towards him, hence the term “four-seam.”
Grip #2: The Two Seam Grip
If you want to challenge the batters with a slower speed throw, using the two-seam grip is the way to go. Referred to as the “movement pitch”, the two-seam grip is slightly slower than the four-seam by one to three miles per hour, and it lets the ball sink to some degree.
Steps to gripping a two-seam fastball:
- Step 1: Place the tips of your index and middle fingers directly over the narrower seams of the ball.
- Step 2: Position your thumb directly beneath the ball, making sure your thumb tip is not touching the seam but the smooth leather.
- Step 3: Hold the ball tighter and closer to the palm of your hand. This will allow a little friction between the ball and your hand to slow down the velocity.
- Step 4: Pitch the ball at full speed. From the batter’s end, he will see a couple of parallel seams swirling towards him, hence the term “two-seam.”
Grip #3: The Curveball Grip
Upon release, a curveball may seem like it’s off the strike zone but unexpectedly breaks and swirls back towards the home plate for a strike. That’s why this pitching technique can help you throw off the opposing team’s batter.
Steps to gripping a curveball:
- Step 1: Place the tip of your middle finger parallel to one of the long seams.
- Step 2: Then, you will want to put your index finger right next to it.
- Step 3: Position the thumb beneath the seam of the opposite side of the ball. The hand should form a C-shape when viewed from the top, with the horseshoe seam pointing towards your palm.
- Step 4: Fold the ring and pinky fingers towards your palm so the knuckle of the ring finger is touching the leather.
- Step 5: Rotate your wrist outward and down when releasing the ball. The ball will rotate off your index finger, giving it a top-bottom movement when it leaves your hand.
Grip #4: The Slider Grip
A slider is slower than a fastball but faster than a curveball. Its main characteristic is a break that tails sideways and down as it enters the strike zone, making it harder to hit.
Steps to gripping a slider:
- Step 1: Place your middle finger directly over the outer horseshoe seam and your index finger directly above it on the leather. Both fingers should be slightly off-center.
- Step 2: Position your thumb beneath the ball, directly on the opposite end, and just off-center. The tip should be touching the leather and not the bottom seam.
- Step 3: Fold the ring and pinky fingers, so the ball is resting on them for added support. The ball should not touch the palm as you squeeze it with the thumb and middle finger.
- Step 4: Release as you would a fastball, making sure you don’t twist the wrist. The grip itself will generate the necessary spin from your fingers, causing the ball to break.
Grip #5: The Circle Changeup Grip
A changeup is thrown to appear like a fastball but gets to the plate more slowly. It is meant to derail the batter’s timing, often resulting in misses or fouls when the ball comes in contact with the baseball bat.
Steps to gripping a circle changeup:
- Step 1: Curve your thumb and index finger, so they form a circle over the horseshoe seam of the ball. A smaller circle delivers a more downward movement.
- Step 2: Spread the three other fingers evenly over the top of the ball, so the ball rests on the upper part of your palm.
- Step 3: Squeeze the ball lightly, putting more pressure on the thumb and pinky finger.
- Step 4: Pitch the ball with the same speed and movement as a fastball. A changeup is a lot slower, but the batter must not be able to tell the difference.
Different pitching grips can alter the speed, movement, and direction of a baseball. It is often said that a good pitcher can dictate the outcome of a baseball match.
Knowing how to grip a baseball in different ways will give you the edge over your opponents. If you liked our post, it would be great if you share it with your team members and friends wanting to learn the secrets of a great baseball pitch.
A powerful swing and the ball is flying across the field, just one hit, and we might never forget the thrill it brings. I do not know about you, but I never do. Every baseball game is the chance to compete with others and cooperate with your teammate. It is among my biggest passions.