Baseball: Pitching – Pitch Types and Grips

The great pitchers in the major leagues know how to throw a number of different kinds of pitches. By using different pitches the pitcher can keep the batter off balance, never knowing where the ball is going next.

The primary pitch in youth baseball is the fastball. Young pitchers should only throw the fastball as other pitches can hurt their arm. Kids should work with their parents and coaches before they try throwing any other pitch than the fastball.

Here are some of the main types of pitches used in baseball today:

Fastball

Just like its name, the fastball is the fastest of all the pitches thrown. This is because it is a straight pitch with little curve or break.

Fastball Grip

Common grip for the four-seam fastball

The most common type of fastball is the four-seam fastball. For a four-seam grip you place your index and middle fingertips directly on the seams of the ball. The ball is then held in place by your thumb and your ring finger. The ball should not be back in your palm, but held by your fingers. When a fastball is thrown, it should be thrown with backspin.

Curveball

The curveball is a pitch thrown with top spin. This will cause the ball to move or curve as it nears the plate, making it harder to hit.

Curveball Grip

Pitcher’s grip for the straight curveball

The most common type of curveball grip is the “straight curveball”. The middle finger is the most important finger used in throwing a curveball. You place the middle finger across the bottom seam and the thumb across the back seam. The ball is held in place with your index finger (next to the middle) and rests on the ring finger.

To throw a curveball the ball should be released with top spin from the middle finger and a snap of the wrist as the ball is released.

Slider

A slider reacts somewhere between a fastball and a curveball. It is generally a higher speed pitch than the curveball, but has less movement.

Changeup

A changeup is a pitch that is intentionally thrown slowly. The pitching motion and pitch is meant to look like a fastball to the batter, but actually be much slower fooling the batter into swinging early.

Knuckleball

The knuckleball is thrown with the knuckles touching the baseball rather than the fingertips. This way the ball can be thrown with little or no spin. With no spin on the ball, the trajectory of the ball will be random with the ball, hopefully, moving erratically as it approaches home plate. This makes the ball difficult to hit.