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Until the pitcher is at least fifteen years old, he should learn to command two types of pitches: a fastball and a changeup. They will be doing themselves a big favour if they can throw both of these pitches for a strike, in most any count to the batter, by the time they enter high school. This way they have a foundation of the two primary pitches needed to compete and win.
Once they are fifteen or older, they should work to implement a breaking pitch by learning to throw a curveball or slider.
It is critical that they also continue to polish their fastball and changeup by learning to command them in and out of the strike zone. When a high school pitcher attempts to throw more than three pitches, his primary pitches tend to lose effectiveness, and the pitches all start to look similar to the batter.
A curveball should not be thrown as a primary pitch until a pitcher is at least fifteen or sixteen years old, and it is recommended that a slider not be thrown as a primary pitch until a player is at least seventeen years of age. By this age, a player should be physically strong enough and possess the correct mechanics to throw fastballs (two-seam and four-seam), changeups, and some type of breaking pitch. The key is that players must be able to command their pitches for a strike in the game; otherwise, they are generally useless pitches.
Keep in mind that there is more than one way to grip a baseball when throwing a pitch. Therefore, players should first be introduced to the basic grips of each primary pitch. Once they have a good feel for the delivery and location of a particular pitch, they can be shown other possible grip options to create more movement on the ball. At that point, they can spend time tweaking their grips and finger placement to determine what works best for them.
- The first pitch that must be mastered is the four-seam fastball.
- This is usually the easiest pitch to throw for a strike.
- If released properly, four laces of the ball rotate through the air, helping to keep the throw in line with the target.
- Pitchers should hold the baseball with their pointer and middle finger on the top laces or seams of the baseball. The pads of the fingers rest across the seams.
- The thumb should be underneath the ball, approximately splitting the distance of the top two fingers.
- The ring finger and pinky finger rest on the side of the ball to give it balance.