The pitcher can be one of the most important positions on a baseball team. Knowing how to throw these five pitches will make a pitcher more effective.
The four-seam fastball. A four-seam fastball involves the pitcher throwing the baseball as hard as possible with little regard for movement. It's the easiest pitch to throw for a strike and the easiest pitch for a batter to hit if not thrown fast enough. The key ingredient to an effective fastball, other than speed, is location. A fastball thrown to the outside or inside portion of home plate is more difficult to hit than one thrown in the middle of the plate. In addition, a fastball located at the knees as opposed to the waist is harder to hit. Many hitters have difficulty catching up to a chest-high fastball, but if they do … watch out. A four-seam fastball utilizes four fingers, slightly spread across the seam of the baseball. A four-seam fastball, according to PitchingTips.com, is used when speed is of the utmost importance.
The two-seam fastball. A pitcher utilizes a two-seam fastball when she desires the ball to tail away from the hitter. It involves gripping the ball firmly — not tightly — with two fingers crossing the seams. When releasing the ball, the pitcher should turn the ball slightly. The two-seam fastball is best utilized by pitchers looking for control, but do not have the velocity necessary to throw a straight-flying four-seam fastball past the batter. A two-seam fastball is a good pitch for young pitchers to learn, because it utilizes movement without the elbow strain caused by throwing too many curve balls.
Curve ball. Although pitchers can dominate junior leagues with an overpowering fastball, any pitcher looking to turn his talent into a college or professional career must know how to throw a curve ball. Whereas the fastball is used to overpower hitters, a curve ball is used to trick them. To throw a curve ball, use the same grip as a four-seam fastball and rotate the wrist one-quarter turn on the release. Do not attempt to learn how to throw a curve ball without proper instruction. Doing so may cause severe arm damage.
Slider. The slider is a cross between a fastball and a curve ball. It uses the same grip as a two-seam fastball with the two fingers slightly off center to the right and the thumb tucked under the ball. Squeeze the ball with the thumb and middle finger as you throw with the ball, rolling slightly off the index finger. A slider moves less than a curve ball, but is easier to throw and harder for the batter to spot.
Change-up. When it appears the batter has "timed" your fastball, it's time for a change-up. Use the same throwing motion as you would for a fastball. The basic difference between a change-up and a fastball involves the grip. To throw a change-up, grip the ball with three fingers. Hold the ball more loosely and deeper in the hand than a fastball.