Pitching Grips For Youth Baseball
Children under the age of 14 or 15 should never under any circumstances throw any type of breaking ball. The reason for this is that children have not finished growing and the arm growth plates are not secure. Throwing breaking balls only puts undue pressure upon the elbow which will result in unnecessary arm injury.
With this in mind, youth baseball pitchers should throw only three types of pitches – the two-seam faseball, the for-seam fastaball, and a change up. This is really all that is needed anyway to pitch effectively to younger aged children. The key is for younger pitchers to work on basic fundamental pitching mechanics and to be able to throw strikes when the game is on the line.
A Four Seam Fastball
This pitch is the basic straight fastball. To grip the four seam fastball, hold the baseball so that your fingers go across the seasm of the baseball. Place your index and middle fingertips directly on the seam of the baseball. The "horseshoe seam" should face into your ring finger of your throwing hand. Its caledl the horseshoe seam simply because the seam itself looks like the shape of a horseshoe.
Next, place your thumb directly beneath the baseball, resting on the smooth leather. Ideally, you should rest your thumb in the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom part of the baseball. However, as can be seen in the picture, hands of younger players are generally not large enough to fit directly under the center of the ball.
Grip the baseball in your fingertips (if possible but for younger children their hands are not big enough yet). There should be some space between the ball and your palm, The idea is to hold the baseball softly so that the ball can leave your hand quicker and with more velocity.
The Two Seam Grip
A two seam fastball is gripped slightly tighter and closer in the throwing-hand than the four-seam fastball. This pitch generally is thought of as a "movement pitch".
To grip a two seam fastball, turn the ball so that the seam is going the same direction as your fingers. Place your index and middle fingers directly on top of the narrow seams of the baseball.
Now place your thumb directly on the bottom side of the baseball and on the smooth leather in between the narrow seams. The two seam grip alot firmer than the four seam grip. The idea here is that the firmer grip causes friction which then causes the baseball to change direction when the pitch is thrown.
The Change Up
For youth baseball players, a three finrger change up works the best as their hands are not big enough to throw a circle change. This is a great off-speed pitch for youngsters and those players with small hands.
Grip the baseball by centering your ring, middle, and index fingers on top of the baseball . Your thumb and pinky finger should be placed on the smooth leather directly underneath the baseball. The middle finger in this case does not grip the ball.
Now hold the baseball deep in your palm to maxmimize the friction and to keep the pitch from spinning much when thrown. Tthrow the ball just like you would throw a fastball – same mechanics, same arm speed and everything else. The ball will come out of your hand alot slower than the fastball but will look to the batter just like a fastball so he will swing out in front of the pitch.
The Circle Change
To throw a circle changeup make a circle or an "OK" gesture with your throwing hand using your thumb and index fingers. You then center the baseball between your three other fingers. Throw the ball just like the other pitches with the same mechanics and arm speed.