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Make no mistake, your best pitch will always be a strike. However, in the following paragraphs we will describe and show you how to throw several different pitches. Most of these pitches will be somewhere between hard and impossible for very young pitchers to throw simply because of their small hand size. When your hand is small, just getting a firm grip on the ball will be about the best you can do. As you grow and your hand gets larger, you want to get the ball out in your fingers as far as possible while still maintaining a good grip on it. With the ball out on the fingers, using a wrist snap, you will be able to get rotation or spin on your pitches to throw breaking pitches as well as a fast ball.
The Fast Ball The fast ball will always be your bread and butter pitch, no matter what level of competition you're pitching against. You learn it first in your pitching career and will probably use it more than all other pitches combined. You must be able to throw it for a strike most of the time and learn to spot it in different parts of the strike zone as you work batters. All of the other pitches you develop will play off your fast ball.
There are many ways to grip a fast ball. First, the ball must feel comfortable in your hand. Second, your thumb and fingers, especially your middle finger, should have contact with the seams. You may throw the fast ball with either a two or four seam rotation. As you release the fast ball, your palm is facing the batter, you snap your wrist and pull your hand upward. The ball releases off of the tips of your fingers imparting overspin toward the batter. Your follow-through will be with your arm extended and your hand palm up.
The Change-up The second most important pitch to learn is the change-up. You will learn much more about how to use this pitch in later chapters. For now, just know that changing speed from pitch to pitch is the best way to mess with a batter's timing. Many pitchers succeed through high school using only a fast ball and a change-up.
Your motion when you throw the change-up should look exactly like your fast ball. The faster you throw the fast ball, the better your change-up will work. The change-up pitch speed should be somewhere between half to three quarters as fast as your fast ball. The batter who has your fast ball timed and is committed to hitting it should be completely fooled by a slow floater.
The simplest way to throw the change-up is to bury the ball back deep in the palm of your hand. You will find it difficult to get good speed from this grip and it will also lessen the spin on the pitch. Although you want the change-up motion to look exactly like your fast ball, the release is different. When you release the change-up keep your hand and arm close to your hip. At the release point, your hand should turn palm inward toward your hip. It is similar to reaching out to shake another person's hand. Side spin may cause the pitch to break but the speed difference is what makes a change-up most effective. Also always try to keep your change-up low in the strike zone. A batter who reacts to the speed change will find the low pitch harder to hit.
The Drop Ball A good drop pitch makes it hard for batters to make solid contact with the bat. It will usually result in infield ground balls at best. You want to keep this pitch low, also. A good drop low on the outside corner of the plate or inside just off the kneecaps is a very difficult pitch to hit for even the best hitters.
You may throw the drop ball with either a two seam or four seam grip, whichever is most comfortable. When the drop pitch is released, roll the hand over the top of the ball as your hand passes your hip. You want to give the ball over-spin. The release may feel like you're pushing the ball toward the ground. You should bend slightly forward at the waist at release. After the release, your hand and arm will be slightly in front of your body as you follow-through.
The Curve Ball This pitch will break sideways through or around the strike zone. The release of a curve is later than for the drop pitch. It is thrown with the ball out on the finger tips. Keep your back straight as you make the pitch. To release the curve you give it side-spin by turning your hand slightly toward your body as it passes your hip. Your arm pulls across your body through the motion. Your arm will be in front of your body as you follow through.
You may throw the curve down the middle of the strike zone and break it outside. This makes a good sucker pitch for batters to chase. Another good location for the curve is thrown inside to break over the inside corner of the plate. As with almost all other pitches, the low curve will be hardest for the batters to hit.
The Rise Ball This is the most difficult pitch to learn to throw. Grip it to get good seam contact with your thumb and fingers. You may even make seam contact with the nail of your index finger. To make the ball rise you must release it so it will spin backwards. In your windup, you cup your wrist slightly and start to release the ball with the back of your hand pointed toward the batter. You flip your hand upward at release to give the ball backspin. Then you follow through with your arm extended high toward a twelve o'clock position.