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Do you know how to throw a changeup?
In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about throwing a change up that goes beyond "dirty" or "nasty" and usually involves embarrassing the batter...
But first, check out this off-speed pitch from Felix Hernandez...
King Felix has got one of the best change ups in baseball, and he literally puts on a clinic for how to throw a great change up right here:
I love how that pitch looks like a fastball but fades down and in to get the hitter swinging.
That's the key to a great change up, and it's easy to see how King Felix has remained so successful for so long in the big leagues...
In fact, he threw the more change up pitches in the majors than anybody else last year (1,076), enabling him to slow down and control hitters' bat speed to set up his fastball or other pitches.
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Change up grip
So what's the secret to a good change up?
Let's take a closer look at how to grip and throw the change up...
The most common grip is some variation of the "circle change," in which the thumb and forefinger touch to create a circle on the side of the ball.
The ball sits back close to the palm while the remaining fingers are spread around the ball.
- Use your thumb and index fingers to create a circle or an "OK" on the ball.
- Center the baseball between your three other fingers (as shown in the middle picture above right). The baseball should be tucked comfortably against the circle.
- Throw this pitch with the same arm speed and body mechanics as a fastball. The one variation is to slightly turn the ball over by throwing the circle to the target. This is called pronating your hand. The gesture mimics giving someone a "thumbs down" sign with your throwing hand.
- The fading movement to your throwing-arm side of the plate reduces speed.
More images of change up grips
DID YOU KNOW?
The change up is the great impostor, meant to look like the fastball, but coming in slower to throw off the batter's timing.
The arm motion and release point are ideally the same as the fastball, but the difference is the grip.
Where the fastball uses leverage to impart force and spin using the first two fingers, the changeup spreads the force around the ball, concentrating it in the middle of the ball and taking speed off.
The most common grip is some form of the "circle change," in which the thumb and forefinger touch to create a circle on the side of the ball, which sits back close to the palm. The remaining fingers are spread around the ball.
Variations on the grip include the palm ball, where the ball is held all the way back in the palm, and the horseshoe or pitchfork change, in which fingers are spread evenly around the ball, without the thumb-and-forefinger circle.
My favorite GIF of throwing a change up
Put it all together, and it looks like this...
Here's an 88 mph change up from Noah Syndergaard en route to a strike out:
What a great pitch. That's some awesome stuff right there!
Learn more about my workout programs for pitchers
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not.
To get to the next level, preparation is everything. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.
If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.
What do you think?
Now it's time to hear from you:
Are there any change up grips, tips or techniques that I missed?
Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.
Either way, leave a comment and let me know.
READ THIS NEXT: Pitching Grips: How To Throw 8 Different Baseball Pitches