There are many pitching lessons young players need to learn. Knowing the basics allows players to have building blocks they can use later as they learn and grow. One thing that is really important for young players is to learn how to properly grip a baseball. You might be surprised, but a lot of players hold the ball wrong! Read on to learn more about pitch grip basics that young pitchers should know.
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Pitching Lessons: How to Grip a Baseball for Pitchers
If your player starts pitching lessons, one of the first things we’ll look at is pitch grips and pre-sets. One of the most fundamental parts of pitching is holding the ball properly. Otherwise, your young player may have a really hard time improving, advancing, and keeping their arm healthy.
How Youth Pitching Athletes Should Hold a Baseball
You may have heard of many different ways to grip a baseball. However, our pitching instruction explains to young players the best way to hold the ball as they grow and develop. Young players should hold the ball by using the thumb and middle finger to split the ball in half. The index finger goes on the other side of the middle finger. For young players with small hands, they may also need to add their ring finger to the top of the ball to get a good grip until their hands grow. This grip gives the hand good contact on the ball so the player can control it properly and transfer momentum to it.
Making sure that the middle finger and thumb are in the middle of the ball is incredibly important. Even small mistakes can seriously affect the pitcher’s performance. For instance, for every one-eighth of an inch that the middle finger is off center, that translates to about eight inches of distance lost at home plate.
During instruction, we may also recommend pre-sets for young players. This is where the player sets their hand in the glove in the exact position they want to have at release. This helps stabilize the joints and prevent issues like twisting, curving, or snapping the wrists and fingers at release.
Why Worry About Pitch Grips and Pre-Sets?
So, why exactly are pitch grips and pre-sets important for youth pitching? They offer a lot of benefits as the player learns. Keep in mind that having a proper grip on the baseball can improve accuracy, velocity, and distance. It can also help reduce the risk for injuries, as incorrect grip may cause the player to unconsciously put extra stress on the elbow or wrist to compensate for a bad grip.
Pre-setting is another skill that is really useful for youth pitchers, which is why we teach it in our pitching lessons. Pre-setting allows the player to stabilize the wrist and elbow before the pitch and also ensure accuracy at release. The exact pre-set position depends on the type of pitch, as the angle of the wrist and forearm determine the type of pitch. For example, a fastball pre-set involves having the palm forward with the thumb facing downward whereas a curveball has the hand in a karate chop position. Once in the pre-set position, the player squeezes the ball as hard as possible to get strength from the fingers and forearm to stabilize the joints. Eventually, they’ll learn how to pitch without the pre-set as they gain the functional strength needed to stabilize the wrist and elbow without it.
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