Understanding all pitching grips is the most essential element to becoming a successful pitcher.
Your grip for each pitch can determine how fast you throw, and how much movement your ball is going to have. And as we all know, velocity along with movement on your pitches, is the ultimate formula to pitching success.
There are literally hundreds of different variations of baseball pitching grips, and hundreds of different ways to throw specific pitches.
Some pitching grips are far superior over the others, and it’s important to understand which grips will be the most beneficial for getting batters out, and which grips will promote arm health.
Your Guide to Pitching Grips
How to Throw a Four Seam Fastball – The four-seam fastball is the most commonly used pitching grip in baseball. This is because of its simplicity, accuracy, and velocity potential, which is far superior over other grips.
You will simply place your index and middle fingers across the horseshoe portion of the seams.
- Hold this pitch very lightly, similar to an egg
- Keep your wrist and arm motion very loose
The four-seam is the simplest pitch to throw, but is the most effective when thrown correctly. Your goal with this pitch should be to generate backspin on the ball, and obtain natural movement.
Both can be achieved by utilizing the steps above.
How to Throw a Two-Seam Fastball – The two-seam fastball is the second most popular pitching grip. While the two-seamer is typically 3-4 mph slower than the four-seam, it has much more movement potential.
When thrown correctly, the two-seam will tail into a right-handed batter, and away from a left-handed batter if you throw from the right side.
- Gripped opposite of the four-seam
- Place your index and middle fingers on top of the seams
- Apply index finger pressure
- Or put your fingers together in-between the seams
Both the pressure and closed finger techniques will allow you to see nasty two-seam movement.
How to Throw a Cut Fastball – The cut fastball has become one of the most popular grips in baseball because of Mariano Rivera’s incredible success.
Although many pitchers are interested in the cutter, it is the most difficult fastball grip to learn.
- Index and middle fingers across the seams
- But grip the outer half of the ball
In order to achieve, the cutting movement, you will apply middle finger pressure to the ball. There is no wrist pronation (turning of the wrist) with the cut fastball.
The movement from a cutter is the result of the grip alone.
How to Throw a Changeup – Besides your fastball, the changeup is the second most important pitching grip you need to learn.
In order to be successful at the college or even pro level, you must be able to throw a changeup with consistency.
This pitch takes an incredible amount of practice, but once you master it, hitters will start to look foolish.
There are several variations of a changeup grip including the circle, vulcan, three-finger, and the palmball. The circle change is the most popular, and it is arguably the most effective one.
In the picture above, you will notice a circle changeup grip. My middle and ring fingers are on top of the seams like a two-seam fastball.
I primarily threw a two-seam fastball, so I also threw a two-seam circle change. If you rely on a four-seam, then simply place your middle and ring fingers across the seams. This is a very important strategy because your changeup will have the same spin as your fastball except it will hopefully be 6-8 mph slower.
How to Throw a Curveball – The curveball is the most popular off-speed pitching grip in baseball, and for good reason. Always focus on developing your fastball and changeup before trying to throw a curveball.
There are three popular curveball grips including the beginners, knuckle or spike curve, and the straight curve. In the picture above, you can see a straight curve grip. This is the best grip for beginners, and is the easiest to control.
- Grip the outer seam with your middle and index fingers together
How to Throw a Slider – If you’re having difficulty throwing a curveball, a slider may be a great alternative.
Hitters often times have a much more difficult time hitting a slider because it has sharper break, and is typically thrown much faster. The only real difference between a slider and curveball is the wrist action. Unlike a curveball, a slider does not have movement because of wrist supination.
Slider movement is the result of the baseball rolling off your middle finger and thumb. To achieve the greatest amount of movement you should apply middle finger pressure.
How to Throw a Forkball – Throwing a forkball should not be your first option for off-speed. However, if you’re having a difficult time seeing a reduction of velocity with your changeup, then a forkball might be a good option.
Keep in mind, a forkball can put a considerate amount of stress on the elbow, so I would definitely advocate learning a changeup as an alternative.
For the forkball, you will simply split your middle and index fingers so that they are rest on the outer portions of the baseball. I have extremely flexible fingers, and I was able to split pretty far. Just be careful with this pitch grip.
Now that you understand how to use the most effective pitching grips, you learn how to throw with proper pitching mechanics.