How to Throw a Split-Fingered Fastball
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
If a baseball pitcher wants to be successful, he needs to be able to throw more than just a fastball with good command. The split-fingered fastball is a good off speed pitch for an advanced pitcher to learn.
The "splitter" resembles a fastball, in that it has very similar velocity and spin to a normal fastball. However, if thrown correctly, the splitter will suddenly drop off the table and lose velocity as it approaches the plate.
To grip the split-fingered fastball, grip the ball as you would a two seam fastball with your index and middle fingers along the two narrow seams. Now, spread these fingers apart so they are outside of the middle seams. Your fingers should be further apart than normal. Your thumb should be directly under the ball in a comfortable position.
Throwing the split-fingered fastball is similar to throwing any other pitch. You should use your same mechanics that you normally use, and your arm speed should remain consistent. The difference comes at release point. As you are about to release the ball, flick your wrist downwards. This will give the ball the required spin to generate the proper movement.
After you release the ball, continue to finish as you normally do with a flat back and allow your arm to follow through naturally. A good finish is important to throwing an effective split-fingered fastball.
The splitter is an advanced pitch and you should only attempt to throw a splitter when your arm is fully developed, usually around the age of 17 or 18. Like any pitch, the split-fingered fastball requires a lot of time and practice to become effective. Be sure to practice with the grip in warm ups and during bullpen sessions.
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