How to Throw a Change Up
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Arguably one of the most important pitches in a pitcher's reservoir is the change up. It is also one of the most common pitches in baseball, and for good reason. A good change up can be a very effective pitch. With the combination of good arm action, deceptive speed, and biting movement, this pitch is one that you will want to master.
Essentially, a change up is a pitch with a velocity less than your fastball's velocity. Typically, a good change up will have about a 10 mph decrease from velocity of a pitcher's fastball. Anything more than 10 mph is considered very good. This speed drop fools the hitters into missing the pitch.
Another factor that makes a change up effective is the arm action. The pitcher should throw the pitch with the same arm angle and arm speed with which they throw their fastball. This same arm action will fool the hitter into thinking a fastball is coming, only to swing early and miss the ball.
It is the grip of the change up that will produce an effective pitch. There are several popular grips that pitchers use, including the circle change, the vulcan change, and the palm ball. These pitches all use the same basic concept of getting the baseball deep into the palm of the hand. This creates "drag" when the ball is released which results in the velocity decrease. Whichever grip you choose, it is important to keep the ball tucked back into your palm. Failure to do so may result in a less than desirable velocity drop and the hitter might not be fooled.
Because of the strange grip, a change up is likely to move inwards on a right handed hitter for a RHP, and vice versa for a LHP. This can be effective to combine with a slider or a curveball. The amount of movement will vary with the grip you choose and how much downward motion you can produce with your arm.
As with any pitch, the change up takes practice to master. Due to the strange grip, it might feel odd to throw this pitch. To become more comfortable with the grip, practice throwing it in warm ups. Eventually the change up will feel natural and you will be able to throw it in games. Practice with the different change up grips and find one that feels comfortable to you. If you keep in mind the important parts of the pitch (grip and arm action), you should find success with this pitch.
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