Grip this pitch softly, like an egg, in your fingertips. There should be a "gap" or space between the ball and your palm (as shown in the middle picture). This is the key to throwing a good, hard four-seam fastball with maximal backspin and velocity: A loose grip minimizes "friction" between your hand and the baseball. The less friction, of course, the quicker the baseball can leave your hand.
At the end of this corresponding video, you will look at a short clip from the Best of the Best. Where a Slider thrown by Clayton Kershaw, is featured from a breakdown video/post I recently did of the lefty. In slow motion, you can see that he has done everything correctly in his mechanics to enable him to Stay Behind the Baseball, Release it ‘Out in Front, and Throw it Downhill. As for result, well it speaks for itself.
Adding to the air pressure exerted on the ball are the 108 red stitches that hold the cover on the ball. Because they are raised, the stitches increase the amount of friction created as the air passes around the ball and places more air pressure on top of the ball. A well thrown curveball can move as much as 17 inches either way. If you've ever seen a batter jump out of the way of a baseball that ends up crossing over the plate, you've seen a good curveball.
The Shadow to Balance Drill is highly effective in getting pitchers to "learn" the all-important first stages of the pitching motion – getting from the stance to the balance position in a controlled and balanced manner. Because no baseball is used in this drill, a pitcher can practice this beneficial exercise on a daily basis, regardless of when he is pitching during a particular week.
Let’s begin by reviewing the mechanics of throwing a fastball. The goal of the pitcher is to eject the ball from the hand with the maximum velocity. To do so, he employs the longest, straightest launching system, running from the shoulder, through the arm, elbow, wrist and palm, all the way to the tips of the fingers. In the figure below, shown from the batter’s point of view, a right-hander is about to release a fastball:
Throw the ball at half of regular speed to your partner when practicing. A really important part of throwing a curveball is ensuring that you get the direction of the spin correct and that you can repeat this at least 80% of the time. As such, throwing at half your regular speed is a good halfway point to get your action started but to minimize the variables you have to battle.
For example, physical forces and properties, such as gravity, friction, velocity, acceleration, and momentum, are constantly at work when a ball is thrown and subsequently hit by a bat. When it comes to a curveball, though, the spin put on the ball by the pitcher brings a couple of other scientific principles into play: Bernoulli's principle and the Magnus Effect.
Grip the ball between your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger. This is the classic curveball grip. Grip the ball with the bottom seam between your index and middle fingers, and place your thumb along the back seam. Hold the baseball such that the curves of the seams are close to your palm, with one on top front and one on bottom rear of the ball.
So, when their focus is on adding extension to the delivery and trying to “reach out”, trunk rotation suffers. Because the pitcher is focused on arm extension (the idea of “reaching out”), his body exaggerates that action and forgets that upon landing the trunk must begin rotation followed by flexion in order to maximize all transferred energy so the arm gains maximum velocity.
A 4 seam fastball is the most common pitch and the ideal grip for a position player as well on the transition from glove to hand. WHY? Because at release point the finger causes backspin on the baseball. The result is the ball does not drop as much as otherwise, without backspin. In other words, a 4 seam fastball is really appearing to defy gravity and travel more in a straight line. A 2 seam fastball is thrown with similar backspin but again on 11 o’clock axis.
Place your thumb. Place your thumb under the opposite inside seam of the ball. The further your thumb is from your other 2 fingers, the more the pitch will drop. The closer your thumb is to your other two fingers, the more it will slide. If your index and middle fingers are at a 10 or 11 o'clock position, your thumb should be at a 4 or 5 o'clock position.
In this video I answer some questions about the King of the Hill Pitcher’s Trainer, one of which was “what type of pitching drills can you do on the King of the Hill?”. If you like the King of the Hill, and I definitely suggest this product for pitchers of all ages, then you can check it out at King of the Hill. I really love this product because it teaches pitchers how to properly and efficiently get the most energy out of their legs.