Every pitcher needs to know how to throw a four seam fastball. The four seam is the most commonly and frequently used pitch by fielders, pitchers, and non-baseball players.
Other names for this pitch include a rising fastball, four seamer, cross-seam fastball, and a heater. The purpose of this pitch is to challenge the opposing batter by attempting to disrupt his timing. Four-seamers are primarily used for pitch speed.
The four seam is typically the first pitch grip taught to youth pitchers because it does not require any finger tip pressure or wrist movement. This is what separates it from its sister pitch, the two seam fastball.
Here's what a four-seam fastball grip looks like:
How to throw a four seam fastball
Find a baseball. Begin by laying the tips of your index and middle fingers on the top seam, and place your thumb under the baseball on the leather. The horseshoe of the seams should be facing away from your body.
It is important to have space between the ball and the palm, have a very loose grip like you are holding an egg, and keep your wrist extremely loose.
By utilizing these techniques it will minimize friction between the hand and the baseball, and as a result, the reduced friction allows the ball to leave the hand faster.
The four seam is a very easy pitch to grip and throw. Throwing a four seam fastball comes naturally to most people because it does not require any special technique.
When a baseball pitcher releases the ball, it will roll off the thumb, and slide off the middle and index finger at release point.
This release will force the baseball to have backspin. The backspin propels the baseball to travel upwards, but gravity naturally forces it down making the pitch stay on a level plane.
The four seam is the fastest pitch in baseball because of the backspin and straight path of the ball.
Baseball pitchers who are able to throw a four seam fastball with good velocity are basically trying to get the ball through the strike zone before the hitter can react to the speed and location of the pitch.
With that being said, four seamers with higher pitching velocity will be more effective. However, if a pitcher is unable to locate this pitch with consistency, then it is a very meaty pitch for the opposition.
The four seam has little, to no break for most pitchers. Some pitchers are able to see natural tailing or cutting movement because of a lower arm slot or unintended finger tip pressure.
For the majority, the four seamer will be extremely straight, and easy to read for the hitters due to its lack of break. If a pitcher is unable to locate this pitch, he will get very hard.
Another problem with not locating is that the four seam fuels the hitters bat because of the speed. This allows batters to hit the ball further and harder.
Pitchers must practice their location of this pitch if you want to be successful at the college of professional level.
Four seams are effective when the baseball pitcher can locate it on the outside, inside, low, and high portions of the strike zone. The high fastball is one of the best pitches in baseball for producing strikeouts and pop-ups.
To a batter's eyes, a high fastball appears to be an easy pitch to hit and most batters are willing to chase it. If you throw the high fastball in the correct count, the majority of batters will swing, and almost always will miss. Even if the hitter does make contact, it will most likely be a routine pop-up. The high four seam fastball is most effective in pitcher's counts such as 0-2 or 1-2.
Four seam fastballs in the MLB?
Almost every professional and college pitcher utilizes this fastball. These baseball pitchers will use this pitch to get ahead of batters in the count or in situations when a pitcher is in dire need of a strike such as a 2-0 or 3-0 count.
As well documented, Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman has the fastest recorded four seam fastball in history. It was clocked at approximately 106 mph. 100 + mph speeds are very rarely seen in the MLB and even in the world. In fact, the fastest pitching professionals typically throw anywhere from 94-97 mph.
Even in this circumstance, these pitchers are considered to have "plus" fastballs because of the average four seam velocity is about 90 mph.
I hope this tutorial gave you a better understand on how to throw a four seam fastball. Every pitcher should make the four seam their number one priority because the fastball is the best pitch in baseball.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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