How To Throw A Filthy Four-Seam Fastball

Do you know how to throw a four-seamer?

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about throwing a four-seam fastball that goes beyond "dirty" or "nasty" and usually involves embarrassing the batter...

But first, check this out as Jose Fernandez dials up a 99 mph fastball past the hitter Chris Owings en route to a strikeout:

Jose Fernandez four-seam fastball

Fernandez can seriously throw some cheddar, right?

The four seam fastball is the most basic pitch in baseball, and it's generally the first pitch a young player will learn and throw consistently because it's also the primary grip used when making throws from other positions on the baseball field.

The four-seamer gets its name from the view of the four parallel seams spinning toward the batter. The ball exits the hand from the pitcher's first two fingers and rotates bottom to top (picture the 6 to 12 space on a clock) from the batter's perspective roughly 20 times before reaching the plate.

The degree of "four-seam" success depends primarily on the grip and execution of this fastball.

The four-seam fastball is used commonly employed by the pitcher to get ahead in the count or when throwing a strike is crucial. Proper mechanics results in minimal lateral movement. It is considered a direct (straight) pitch characterized by the greatest speed that can be thrown in the variety of all fastball grip variations.

Four-seam fastball grip

So what's the secret to a good fastball?

Let's take a closer look at how to grip and throw the four-seam fastball...

Four seam fastball grip
Image source: baseball-pitching-tips.com
  1. Place your index and middle fingertips directly on the perpendicular seam of the baseball. The ‘horseshoe seam' should face into your ring finger of your throwing hand. The ‘horseshoe seam' visually appears to have the characteristic outline you would find on the hoof of a horse!
  2. Position your thumb directly beneath the baseball and allow it to rest on the smooth leather. The perfect location for your thumb is in the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom of the baseball. Holding the ball "loosely" in your fingertips allows for the gap (space) required between the ball and the palm of your hand.

To implement maximum backspin and velocity, a loose grip is essential because it minimizes "friction" between your hand and the baseball. Less friction will result in a quicker release of the ball.

More images of four-seam grips

Four-seam fastball grip images
Four-seam fastball grip images
Image source: baseball-pitching-tips.com

DID YOU KNOW?

The most basic fundamental pitch, this is the only one thrown by everyone.

It is the easiest pitch to locate (put it where you want it).

The four-seamer is thrown at maximum velocity, with the ball coming off the first two fingers and rotating bottom to top (6 to 12 on a clock) as viewed by the batter.

It gets its name from the way the four parallel seams spin toward the batter, and that's what the batter is looking for to identify it.

How to throw a four-seam fastball video

Put it all together, and it looks like this...

Here are two 100+ mph fastballs from pitcher Aroldis Chapman:

Aroldis Chapman four-seam fastball
Aroldis Chapman four-seam fastball
Image source: pitcherlist.com

OMFG, that's straight up gas!

If you ask me, nothing beats watching Chapman throw a four seamer at speeds up to 102 mph.

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about gripping and throwing a 4-seam fastball with simple, step-by-step instructions...

The four-seam fastball is the primary pitch in a pitcher's arsenal, because it's the grip we use when we first learn to throw.

Here's what it looks like...

Check out this four-seam fastball from MLB pitcher Corey Kluber:

Corey Kluber four-seam fastball
Dexter Fowler four-seam fastball

This 95 mph front-door fastball from the 2014 Cy Young winner gets Dexter Fowler looking at Strike 3.

A four-seam fastball is called a four seam fastball because when the ball is thrown the ball rotates such that there are four seams rotating in the air.

This pitch typically will stay straight depending on your arm angle.

Your arm angle is the angle at which your arm is at when you release the ball. The lower your arm angle, the more the ball will move on this pitch and the higher the arm angle, the less the ball will move on this pitch.

How to grip the four seamer

  1. To grip the four-seam fastball, place your index and middle fingertips directly on the perpendicular seam of the baseball.
  2. The "horseshoe seam" should face into your ring finger of your throwing hand... I call it the horseshoe seam simply because the seam itself looks like the shape of a horseshoe.
  3. Next, place your thumb directly beneath the baseball, resting on the smooth leather... Ideally, you should rest your thumb in the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom part of the baseball.
  4. Grip this pitch softly, like an egg, in your fingertips.
  5. There should be a "gap" or space between the ball and your palm... This is the key to throwing a good, hard four-seam fastball with maximal backspin and velocity: A loose grip minimizes friction between your hand and the baseball. The less friction, of course, the quicker the baseball can leave your hand.

Essentially, you want to throw the baseball with the most amount of backspin. Your fingers should hold the ball across the seams allowing you to get good spin.

Notice in the picture how the fingers go across the seams:

4-seam fastball grips image
Image source: thecompletepitcher.com

It is important to remember not to “choke” the baseball. Don’t jam the ball back too far in your palm.

Choking the ball will cause a decrease in velocity.

You want to keep the ball out on your fingertips as much as comfortably possible, yet still possess good control.

The four-seam fastball is usually the most accurate and fastest pitch in a pitcher’s repertoire, however it offers the least amount of movement.

Because of this, a good hitter can usually time a pitcher’s four-seam fastball.

A variation of the four-seam fastball is the two-seam fastball.

You can read about how to grip a two-seam fastball here.

As with all pitches, practice makes perfect.

The more you practice throwing the four seam fastball, the better it will be and the more comfortable you will feel throwing it.


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