More on improving your Fastball
Just Released !
new 2-hour DVD, The
Holy Grail - The
the first in the planned 4-module DVD series.
to preview the DVD
designed to help one
and hone this
- No one is doomed to
mediocrity because of a humble fastball. Even a weak fastball
can be juiced up!
Your Velocity And Develop Your Arm (at the Same Time) - gain
speed on your fastball while increasing arm strength using these
techniques and drills.
Spin on Speed -
Hurling fastballs is an art form. Here's how to paint a
picture for your pitchers.
Effects of Graded Weighted Baseballs... - When used
properly, and with patience, the weighted ball can be an
extremely effective aide. I've had nothing but success with them
and several of my subjects who've gone on to the pros, swear by
them and are absolutely dedicated to them.
Doctoring the Fastball - Getting the Second Stage -
Natural movement of the fastball is rare and is
reserved for those few individuals by the nature of their
anatomy and delivery make a ball move or veer with little or no
effort. Most pitchers do not have this arrangement and find it
necessary to "DOCTOR" the fastball. "Doctor" here means
imparting different pressures, spins, grips and releases mainly
to make a fastball act, or do something other than be straight.
This article discusses the types of fastballs and provides
information to assist pitchers in developing these pitches.
Pursuit Of The Holy Grail: A Fastball can Be
Taught from The Act of Pitching.
Toolbox - The
Breaking & Off-speed
Go to the
Pitching DVD and
Video Clip Library
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preview, click the
DVD inset to go to
detail page and see
a preview of the Integrated
Curveball Drill Set
THE FASTBALL TO MOVE
DR. JOHN BAGONZI
Pitcher Boston Red Sox Organization
of the conundrums that plagued me in my pitching career and
surely has also bothered many pitching aspirants is THE LACK
OF MOVEMENT on their fastballs.
The absence of veer or sink or lift renders even the
high velocity fastball to a flavorless, bland category and
thus demeans the strong armed hurler who may possess
outstanding qualities for pitching otherwise.
This person may have great movement on his other
pitches i.e. curve, slider, splitter, change-up, but misses on
the main order (fastball). I find in a lifetime of pitching, coaching and instructing
that THIS (lack of movement) is the single most
consequential and yet lacking trait in prospective pitchers
particularly in right handed throwers.
Lefties seem to be inherently blessed with natural
movement which prioritizes their southpaw condition.
Some RHP's possess natural movement, but this is much
rarer than their counterpart LHP cousins.
This deficit (lack of movement for RHP's) can be
improved somewhat with adjustments and insightful doctoring of
ESSENCE OF THE PRIME DIRECTIVE
great advantage of fastball movement is that pitches that
don't look like strikes wind up being strikes and the reverse
of this is also true. The
late "life" or "bite" or
"overdrive" with veer is a priceless phenomenon,
often making a pitcher unhittable.
The true HOLY GRAIL is the late acting explosive type
of fastball. Degrees
of explosiveness come varyingly and all are valuable and
important to a quality fastball. The relationship of velocity and movement can never be
is where great pitchers reside and where true pitching
is a level where great movement negates velocity (reverse is
also true), however this is a variable and is undoubtedly
affected by the amount of rotation.
Pedro Martinez can get movement on a 95 m.p.h.
fastball, whereas Greg Maddux is in the 85-87 m.p.h. range for
best movement on his fastball.
The ball acts better quite often when it slows down to
a certain point. Power sinker ball pitchers such as Kevin Brown throw sinkers
in the 91-92 m.p.h. range or even higher, which makes them
very unique, but extremely effective.
A so-called "heavy" ball pitch is created
that is ground ball oriented and difficult for the batter to
hit long. Power
sinker ballers are not common.
much of this is natural and how much is contrived and refined?
There are obviously pitchers with anatomical blessings
which favor arm angle, wrist angle and release points
resulting in that all important and sought after moving
What can be done? "Doctoring"
the ball takes on a whole new meaning and one must advance
mentally in trying to improve the fastball and an aerodynamic
consciousness is very integral and involved in this pursuit.
CAN BE DONE?
that are critical in the foregoing discussion are:
WRIST AND HAND TILT
THROWING ACROSS BODY
of the areas will be discussed individually and also in
conjunction with others as they are often times mutually
style helps movement. Ideally
an easy, fluid, effortless, and rhythmical delivery which
leads to and results in an aesthetic event; can create
velocity, explosion, movement and deception on the pitch.
This is utopian of course, and many great pitchers have
possessed and do possess this combination.
There have been many others who have contradicted this
and been effective although not as pleasant to watch.
An aesthetic expression with great function should always be
the directive and the search for this should be the grail
wants to get the ball over the plate with velocity and
movement without great stress.
In prescribing a basic menu for a pitcher, particularly
for prolonged success a moving fastball would be the supreme
order and everything else would be built around this.
pursuing this phenomenon for a long period of time it is
concluded that MORE rather than LESS is
doesn't mean it is complicated, but rather there are multiple
factors involved and the simplicity factor should be left at
the door. To
suggest it is quite a simple event is to mock aerodynamics as
a ruling condition in physics.
positions of the arm in delivery and the various angles can
affect the action on a ball.
In general the following is true.
OH (overhand) ball is straight 12/6 rotation maybe a
¾ (three-quarter) ball tends to veer
¾ - (three-quarter minus) ball may sink
S/A (sidearm) ball may sink
OH (overhand) pronating outward can result in movement.
In all instances when we suggest movement, it is to the right
for RHP's and to the left for LHP's.
LIFT almost non-existant but if ball doesn't go down it
may give the impression it goes up.
VEER, TAIL OR RUN ball moves to the pitching arm side.
SINK ball goes down, and is usually accompanied by
CUT or FADE ball moves to left for RHP and to right for
are all fastball movements a splitter often referred to as a
SPLIT-FINGERED FASTBALL is more in the category of a breaking
should find the essence of his craft, embellish it, refine it
and bring it to its utmost fruition.
This involves mastering spin directions.
Spin directions involve: (actually visualize the clock)
12/6 twelve six this is an overhand consequence the
ball is straight it might hop or rise or give the impression
1/7 one seven this is thrown ¾+ and is a classic
tailing fastball this would be 11/5 (eleven five) for a lefty.
2/8 two eight this is a tailing sinking fastball thrown
¾ arm. Spin
would be 10/4 (ten four) for a lefty.
3/9 three nine this would be a sink mainly, but also
can run. It is
thrown S/A (sidearm) or ¾-.
For lefties spin direction is 9/3.
there are gradations on arm angles and wrist angles and slight
variations on the spin directions.
one does with position and pressure of fingers has a lot to do
with the activity of the ball.
Even slight pressure can cause unevenness of airflow,
and the ball pushed in a little can cause deviations in its
Index finger on a running fastball and sinker (although
some use middle finger).
Thumb up on side of ball.
Middle finger pressure is usually for cutter
of fingers on the ball can cause movement:
Inside of ball for veer.
Outside for cut.
should become an expert when it comes to type of rotation,
amount of rotation, quality of spin and pressure
APPLICATION AND PITCH SLOT this a delicate but important
concept in producing an effective pitch slot.
In essence this is directing the body is alignment and
energy towards a groove which is optimal for movement.
Driving to the inside or outside part of the plate to
take the mechanical process to its most productive channel is
the goal. This is
closely interwoven with trajectory.
Being able to recognize where this MOVEMENT CHANNEL
exists and to employ it constantly, obviously secures the
consistency of a moving fastball and its effectiveness.
Finding the release point which enhances this
phenomenon is a matter of trial and error.
OF PRONATION as the arm goes through its path it reaches a
point somewhere before release in which the force of pronation
comes to be. This
is an important factor to correct releasing so that the thumb
appropriately turns down and outward facing to the right or 3rd
base side for a RHP. This
guarantees that the ball will have other than 12/6 rotation.
AND HAND TILT
a RHP a tilt of about 45 degrees or less insures a 1/7 or 2/8
type of rotation desirable for a tailing fastball.
That requires putting the fingers in a 1 o'clock to 2
o'clock position. If
the wrist is flexible, this can be done from overhand to
three-quarter arm angle without any difficulty.
Suppleness is a variable her a loose wrist gives rise
to more possibilities. Some
persons have a naturally angular hand angle (this seems to be
more prominent in left handers).
those whose hand prefers 12 o'clock arrangement and whose
wrist is not flexible enough to achieve spin direction (1/7,
2/8) putting pressure on index finger and bringing it to 11
o'clock will get the desired rotation (1/7).
downward plane gives the flight of the ball a groove which
enhances the leverage effect and consequently movement on the
ball. Getting a
trajectory horizontally by positioning on the pitchers plate
also enhances the pitch slot concept, again promoting action
on the ball.
more pronounced clawing effect
more rotation prominent
greater speed transferal that is hand to finger speed
tips of fingers more active in rotation
ACROSS BODY or stepping to arm side of stride line.
Ex. RHP to 3rd base side or right of line a
little, not a lot or one would be severely throwing against
movement on the FB can occur this way.
rotational forces, axes or rotating bodies, pressure pockets.
Bernoulli's principle (the statement that in any
horizontally moving substance the pressure increases as the
flow decreases) and the MAGNUS EFFECT (faster an object goes
the straighter it becomes) are all important concepts into the
understanding and insight in creating movement on a fastball.
get a satisfaction of the wonders of the flight of a baseball,
one has to get into an aerodynamic posture (at least mentally)
and recognize that balls thrown hard meet more turbulence and
begin to curve later. There are 108 stitches on a
baseball and they are not all the same. One needs to
become intimate with portions of ball that are affected by
finger pressure and air resistance that occurs from that
its all settled, the eternal force which pulls all objects to
the center of the earth (gravity) may be the most domineering
force in getting a ball to move, particularly downward.
When rotations, velocities and angles join forces with
gravity the utmost movement on a thrown ball will likely
conclusion, any attempts at getting the fastball to act will
be wroth the time and effort even if the movement is minimal.
Slight movement is always better than none,
particularly if it is late.
Experimentation has always been the lore of the
successful pitcher and a thorough understanding of spin
directions in the creation of movement on a thrown ball is
vital to his developing craft.
should practice often, but correctly and listen carefully and
experiment wisely. Once
you are on the right track, repeat and harness your
relaxed wrist and always using the fingertips should be
constant focus. Consistent
holding and handling of the baseball enhances the intimacy and
sensitivity to different pressures and positions on the ball.
should find the essence and grain of his craft and keep the
prime directive in mind, give it some depth and be aware of
the flaws of the perfect world.
Simplicity, while the most utopian approach and highly
recommended by most may not always be on the menu.
A more involved search may be the requirement.
Be wiling to go that route.
The search for the best movement on a fastball and
accomplishment of such will be sufficient reward.