Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, and Pedro Martinez — these are the players you probably idolize if you dream of being a star pitcher. They all had consistently amazing strikeout statistics during their peak, with Martinez notably getting 17 scoreless innings in his 1999 post-season appearances.
Although the players had amazing raw talent, their cunning, cannon-like throws won’t be possible without proper pitching grips. But even the best of the best aren’t immune to learning the basics. This is because different grips give you options as to how fast your ball will go and the shape of its trajectory.
Here are the fundamental ones to master:
The Four-Seam Fastball
It doesn’t get more quintessential than the four-seam fastball. This is because it’s the fastest and most commonly-used throw.
First, find the horseshoe shape on the ball. Then, cover your index and middle finger across the seam. Support the bottom side with your thumb. You want the ball to fly fast and strong, so your grip should be as light as possible. When throwing, keep your arms and wrist loose. Practice with a radar gun for baseball to determine speed, and then make gradual adjustments to get a grip that’s both quick and comfortable.
The curveball isn’t as popular as the TV shows and movies present them. It’s the slowest pitch you can make. But it’s a great way to change up your pitch and throw off your opponent.
To do this, look for the horseshoe pattern on the baseball as well. This time, position your middle and ring finger parallel to the seams. Position your fingers closer and slide your thumb closer to the inward seam. With proper mechanics and posture, you’ll be able to strike out your opponents with a deceptively slow throw that droops down quickly as it makes its way to the plate.
This pitch is faster and calls for less overall movement than a curveball. Many MLB players throw a slider because of its innate deceptiveness. In contrast to the curveball, this pitch is thrown harder and keeps the hitter off-balance.
Start with a curveball position but angle your index and middle finger toward the outer seam and your thumb toward the inner seam.
Going back to quick hurls, the two-seam fastball is almost as popular as its four-seam counterpart, but it has more of a curve to it. The position of your fingers and thumb is similar to that of a curveball, with the index and middle finger close together and the thumb supporting the ball directly below them. This time, you’ll grip it where the two horseshoe patterns of the ball meet. Position your fingers on the seam, if you can.
You’ll often hear commentators describe two-seam fastballs as “nasty” or “dirty” because it’s fast and curves down toward the catcher’s hand, putting the batter in a state of shock and shame in the process.
Pitching grips elevate your game, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been playing the sport for a while. They all have unique characteristics that reward you with satisfying strikes if you use them correctly. Master the ones mentioned here and you’ll constantly keep the batter on their toes.