(From ThinkPitching.com...)

If I were to conduct a poll today asking pitchers of all ages, “How many fastballs do you throw?”, the answers would most likely be “one” referring to a four-seam fastball, or more advanced pitchers might answer “two” while taking into account their two-seam fastballs.

These answers mean only one thing, that pitcher’s are not realizing the full value of the fastball.

As a pitcher’s career develops, the fastball will often times become an afterthought. This is understandable because the fastball tends to grow stale over time. Pitchers are taught the fastball grip all the way back when they are starting out in t-ball! After a while, it’s fun to try something new, but sometimes new can be mistaken as better.

Pitchers need to know that fastballs are not just one or two pitches, but instead many highly effective pitches that can get hitters out. What I’m referring to isn’t necessarily different grips on a fastball, but the different aspects you can change on a fastball.

Three factors go into every fastball thrown:


These three factors create a great amount of variability that the hitter must adjust to. Anytime pitchers change any of these three factors, it should be considered a different pitch. This is because hitters have to react differently to how the pitch is thrown, just as they would against an off-speed pitch (curveball, change-up). This increases a pitcher’s chance for success.

Speed, location, and movement are all aspects that are easily changed on the fastball as opposed to off-speed pitches, because pitchers tend to have a better feel and grasp for their fastballs. The amount to effort needed to adjust these three factors on the fastball, is much less than the effort a hitter must do to adjust to these factors on the fly. This gives the pitcher an advantage.

Speed: Pitchers have two ways in which they can change the speed on fastballs, either up or down. Too often though pitchers try to “muscle up” and throw fastballs harder. When this is done, the increased speed is usually minimal (1-2 m.p.h) because fastballs are already thrown at a high effort level. The window in which to increase the fastball is small. I encourage pitchers to actually take advantage of slowing their fastball down which has a much bigger window to show variability (4-5 m.p.h.). This velocity change on the fastball will cause hitters to lunge, pull balls foul, and of course miss bats.

Location: The ways for changing location on a fastball is limitless. Up, down, in, away, inner half, outer half, up and in, down and away, etc… Every one of these locations requires the hitter to change their approach to the plate and keep them uncomfortable.

Movement: When pitchers bodies begin to develop and produce harder fastballs, the velocity created will begin to allow for the movement of fastballs. Depending on the grip for the fastball, it can move left, right, or down. This makes the hitter have to judge the incoming fastball from two planes: horizontal and vertical. Any object traveling across two planes of movement is very difficult to gauge, much less while trying to hit it with a circular bat.

So take time to appreciate your fastballs full capabilities, and challenge yourself to master it.


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