How To Throw A 4 Seam Fastball
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Every pitcher throws a 4-seam fastball, but the degree of success with this pitch depends a lot on the grip and how you throw it.
The 4-seam fastball is a pitch that is used often by the pitcher to get ahead in the count or when he needs to throw a strike.
A 4 seamer intended to have minimal lateral movement. In other words, it's a straight pitch - but it's also the fastest of all the fastball grip variations.
There are two general ways how to throw a 4-seam fastball.
The first and most traditional way to throw a 4-seamer is to find the horseshoe seam area, or the area where the seams are the farthest apart.
Keeping those seams parallel to the body, the pitcher place his index and middle fingers perpendicular to them with the pads on the farthest seam from him. The thumb will then rest underneath the ball about in the middle of the two fingers.
With this 4-seam fastball grip, the thumb will generally have no seam to rest on.
The second way to throw a 4-seam fastball is to take a baseball and find the area where the seams are closest together.
Keeping those seams parallel to the body, the pitcher place his index and middle fingers on the baseball perpendicular to the seams.
With this 4-seam fastball grip, the pitcher will feel more comfortable with those two fingers apart, as they will have more control because of smaller hands. The pads of those two fingers need to rest on the seam that is farthest away from the body, keeping equal pressure with those two fingers. The thumb will then rest underneath the ball about in the middle of the two fingers.
This gives some pitchers a little better control physically, if not mentally.
Critically, the thumb needs to rest somewhere on the side to middle of its pad. It's not necessary to push the baseball all the way back into the hand, which will decrease both control and velocity of the baseball.
To review, when throwing the 4-seam fastball, it should not be jammed tightly into the pitcher's hand, but should be held with a slight air space between the ball and the inner palm.
Also, the fingers should not be wrapped tightly around the ball, merely firmly. The only tight pressure on the ball should be at the three pressure points.
It is this pressure which gives the fastball its excessive spinning motion at the point of release. A ball held tightly all over will not spin as much as one held tightly only at the pressure points.
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