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Do you know how to throw a four-seamer?
In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about throwing a four-seam fastball that goes beyond "dirty" or "nasty" and usually involves embarrassing the batter...
But first, check this out as Jose Fernandez dials up a 99 mph fastball past the hitter Chris Owings en route to a strikeout:
Fernandez can seriously throw some cheddar, right?
The four seam fastball is the most basic pitch in baseball, and it's generally the first pitch a young player will learn and throw consistently because it's also the primary grip used when making throws from other positions on the baseball field.
The four-seamer gets its name from the view of the four parallel seams spinning toward the batter. The ball exits the hand from the pitcher's first two fingers and rotates bottom to top (picture the 6 to 12 space on a clock) from the batter's perspective roughly 20 times before reaching the plate.
The degree of "four-seam" success depends primarily on the grip and execution of this fastball.
The four-seam fastball is used commonly employed by the pitcher to get ahead in the count or when throwing a strike is crucial. Proper mechanics results in minimal lateral movement. It is considered a direct (straight) pitch characterized by the greatest speed that can be thrown in the variety of all fastball grip variations.
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Four-seam fastball grip
So what's the secret to a good fastball?
Let's take a closer look at how to grip and throw the four-seam fastball...
- Place your index and middle fingertips directly on the perpendicular seam of the baseball. The ‘horseshoe seam' should face into your ring finger of your throwing hand. The ‘horseshoe seam' visually appears to have the characteristic outline you would find on the hoof of a horse!
- Position your thumb directly beneath the baseball and allow it to rest on the smooth leather. The perfect location for your thumb is in the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom of the baseball. Holding the ball "loosely" in your fingertips allows for the gap (space) required between the ball and the palm of your hand.
To implement maximum backspin and velocity, a loose grip is essential because it minimizes "friction" between your hand and the baseball. Less friction will result in a quicker release of the ball.
More images of four-seam grips
DID YOU KNOW?
The most basic fundamental pitch, this is the only one thrown by everyone.
It is the easiest pitch to locate (put it where you want it).
The four-seamer is thrown at maximum velocity, with the ball coming off the first two fingers and rotating bottom to top (6 to 12 on a clock) as viewed by the batter.
It gets its name from the way the four parallel seams spin toward the batter, and that's what the batter is looking for to identify it.
My favorite GIFs of throwing a four-seam fastball
Put it all together, and it looks like this...
Here are two 100+ mph fastballs from pitcher Aroldis Chapman:
OMFG, that's straight up gas!
If you ask me, nothing beats watching Chapman throw a four seamer at speeds up to 102 mph.
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 four-seam fastball 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