If you have ever wondered about the different types of fastball you hear about, I'm here to help.
There are several different varieties of fastballs, but two are the most common - the four-seam and two-seam. What is the point of each? Why is it valuable to learn both? When should I throw them?
All good questions (and there are probably more, but these are the most basic - let me know if you have any others).
The biggest difference is movement. A four-seam fastball will stay straight and a pitcher will have more control. It is also usually thrown a little harder than any other pitch. A two-seam fastball "runs away from you." If you are right-handed, the ball should run back towards the right-handed batters box. A two-seamer for a lefty, moves back towards the left-handed batter's box.
Four-seam fastballs are used whenever a pitcher needs to pitch to a certain location. A good example is a 2-0 or 3-1 count when you can't afford to miss out of the strike zone.
A two-seam fastball is a better pitch because of the movement, but you have to learn to harness the movement and use it to your advantage. If you are a lefty and are trying to throw to the right-handed corner of home plate, you have to be aware that a two-seamer may very well end up over the middle of the plate. Any pitch over the middle has a good chance of being hit hard.
So you have to get used to how much your ball moves. Now, in the above situation, to hit that same corner, you have to throw outside of the strike zone and hope the pitch moves back and catches the corner for a strike.
A four seam is easy to throw. Get a baseball. Hold it so the seam looks like a horseshoe. Place your index and middle finger across that horseshoe so your finger tips are on top of one seam. Your thumb should also grip the seam underneath. Try to keep your ring finger off the ball, but this will depend on how big your hand is.
The two-seam is a little trickier. Position the ball so the seams are close together. Now this is where you are going to have to experiment. There are different ways to make the ball move and you have to figure out which way works for you.
Some players can put their index finger on one seam and the middle on the other. I put my middle finger on the right seam (I am a righty) and my index was in between. I also put pressure with my middle finger. Other pitchers use their index finger as the pressure finger and that can work from either seam.
Experiment with finger placements and applying pressure and see what works best for you.
To answer my final question from above, it is important to throw two types of fastballs - a four-seam and something with movement. And the quicker you can control and understand a two-seam fastball, the better off you will be.
Visit our complete online resource for instructional baseball videos, which includes Around the Mound that features an entire chapter on the correct grips and release points of 10 different pitches, and eBooks at www.ToTheTopPerformance.com.