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Knowing how to throw a changeup in baseball will skyrocket your pitching success. The changeup is without a doubt the second best pitching grip in baseball behind the fastball.
But like anything, perfecting a changeup takes practice, and hard work.
Most youth baseball pitchers do not understand the importance of developing a changeup at an early age. Pitchers who have perfected their changeups have spent countless hours, days, and years practicing this pitch.
What youth baseball pitchers must understand, is that if you have not developed an effective changeup by the time you reach college baseball, you are going to struggle.
Unless you throw 95 mph with a devastating breaking pitch, then you need to be diligently working on developing a changeup.
Changing speeds in pitching is what separates hall of fame pitchers from one-hit wonders.
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Here are several reasons why you should throw a changeup:
- It can be thrown from every arm angle
- Less stress on the throwing arm
- Keeps hitters off-balance
- Makes your other pitches more effective
- It can be thrown in any count
- Effective against both left-handed and right-handed hitters
- Produces ground ball outs
- Can be used as strikeout pitch
- Makes your fastball appear to have more life
Now that you understand the potential benefits of learning this pitch, let's examine how to throw a changeup step by step.
Here's what a changeup grip looks like:
How to throw a changeup: 3 different types of changeups
There are several ways to grip this pitch including the three-finger, the circle, and the palmball pitching grip.
1. How to throw a circle changeup
Let's start with the most commonly used grip, the circle changeup.
For the best results, you will hold the baseball deep your the hand, but you will maintain a light and loose grip. Your index finger will connect with your thumb, forming a circle.
You should place the other two fingers across the seams if you throw a four seam, or with the seams if you throw a two seam fastball. By doing so, batters will be unable to differentiate the spin between your changeup and fastball.
You will throw this pitch with the same arm action as your fastball, but the pitching grip will make the baseball spin off your middle finger. As it is released, the baseball with have side spin similar to a screwball, but opposite of a curveball.
The circle changeup grip is excellent for reducing velocity because it eliminates using the index finger.
Since the index and middle fingers are the strongest on the pitching hand, curling the index finger into a circle takes away its power, and reduces velocity.
While the grip alone will help most baseball pitchers see a reduction in velocity, it may not work for others. If your changeup is not 8-10 mph slower than your fastball, then you may need to consider some of these adjustments:
- Shorten your stride to about 70 to 80 percent of your height.
- Hold the ball deeper in your hand.
- Hold the ball further out in your fingers.
- Pronate further.
- Change your pitching grip.
As the last tip implies, if none of those strategies are working, then you should probably try a new grip. For people having difficulty throwing a circle changeup, a three finger change might be easier.
2. How to throw a three-finger changeup
Many pitchers prefer this variation of the changeup because it is easier to control and throw. The only downfall is that it will have less movement than the circle change.
The three-finger change is griped like a four seam fastball except you will add the ring finger.
Your thumb should be placed directly below the ball, and the ball should be deep in your hand. Upon release you will pronate, letting the ball roll off your index finger.
Take a look at the picture above to see Roy Halladay utilizing a three-finger changeup.
3. How to throw a palmball changeup
Another popular changeup grip is the palmball. Trevor Hoffman was well known for throwing this pitch, but he threw an unorthodox version. Hoffman held the ball very deep in his hand, but he would keep his index, middle, and ringer finger lifted off the ball.
To this date, Hoffman is still known for having one of the best changeups of all time. This variation is much more difficult to master, but because the ball is buried deep in the hand, it is almost impossible to not lose velocity.
Now that you understand the various changeup grips, here are some things that you have to avoid when throwing this pitch:
- slowing down your body
- reducing your arm speed
- staying too tall
- not following through
- throwing the pitch high in the strikezone
This is an important checklist to look at if you are struggling with the location or speed reduction of your changeup. Each of the previously mentioned flaws will tip off the batter when you are throwing a changeup.
Changeups are most effective when a batter has no idea it is coming.
To conclude, the keys to having a great changeup are finding a comfortable grip, throwing it just like your fastball, using your same pitching mechanics, keeping the ball low in the strike zone, and trying to lose 8-10 mph on the pitch.
An excellent way to develop fastball arm speed with your changeup is by throwing it from a distance. If you long toss, as you work your way in, start throwing your changeup at about 90 feet. This exercise will force you to maintain fastball arm speed.
I hope this post gave you a better understanding on how to throw a changeup, and feel free to ask any questions that you might have.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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To get to the next level, preparation is everything. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.
If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my latest strength training, conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.
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