How to throw a forkball? This is a question that a lot pitchers ask because this pitch is so unique. A forkball is an excellent pitching grip, but it's also a very difficult pitch to master.
Good forkball movement is similar to a changeup pitching grip except it usually has sharper downward break. When thrown correctly, the pitch will appear to be a fastball, but will drop right below the hitters bat.
Forkballs can be used in replace of a changeup, in strike out counts, and as a set up pitch. Most pitchers will not use both a forkball and a changeup in their pitching arsenal because both pitches have similar movement.
Learning how to throw a changeup with effective movement can be a difficult task, which makes the forkball preferable for many pitchers.
Because of the forkball grip, it's almost impossible to not have movement when you throw it. Both pitches have their upsides and downsides, and the best advice would be to choose which pitch grip you feel most comfortable with.
Here's what a forkball grip looks like:
How to throw a forkball step by step (4 steps)
- Hold the baseball as if you were going to throw a two seam fastball
- Spread your index and middle finger
- Your fingers should rest on the outside of the seams
- Your thumb can rest on the bottom of the baseball, but some pitchers don't use it all. It's purely preference and what feels comfortable. As you can see in the picture, I liked to have all four fingers on the side of the baseball. This helped my forkball have greater movement, and reduced the velocity even more making it a difficult pitch to read out of my hand.
Now that you know how to grip the pitch, you must learn how to throw a forkball correctly. You want to throw this pitch just how you would throw your fastball. Except, before you release, you want to snap your wrist downward. By doing so, this forces the baseball to have sharp downward movement.
The more you snap your wrist, the more it moves. Once you have developed good throwing technique with the forkball, you can try slightly modifying it to see more movement.
One technique is to let the ball roll off your index finger. When thrown in this fashion, the forkball movement will not only have the typical downward break, but it will also have breaking movement into a right handed batter. Very similar to a changeup.
I would not suggest trying this modification until you have mastered your accuracy and consistency with the pitch.
Also, keep in mind, the forkball is an advanced pitching grip and should typically be avoided by youth pitchers. This is because of the potential dangers that a forkball can have on the elbow. So just be careful, and don't rush into it.
Here are some pros and cons of throwing a forkball.
Pros and cons of throwing a forkball
- Difficult pitch to hit
- Will produce many ground ball outs
- Can be used as a strikeout pitch
- Has excellent downward and sometimes tailing movement
- Slower than a fastball, keeping hitter off-balance
- Difficult pitch to throw if you do not have long fingers
- Difficult to develop consistent accuracy with it
- Could put more stress on the throwing arm than a changeup
Now that you understand how to throw a forkball, it's up to you to decide whether or not it's a pitch grip that you're interested in. I will always recommend learning a changeup over a forkball, but I know how hard it can be to develop a good change. Just do whatever you feel is right, but take the necessary precautions if you decide to use the forkball.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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