Every pitcher young and old must learn how to throw a fastball as it is the games most versatile pitch. It can be an out pitch weather you dig down and fire it or if you hold it another way and make a batter look foolish by waving at your offering. It can also be a great set up pitch for others like a curve ball, slider or splitter. It may seem easy but there is a technique. It is not just about throwing it as hard as you can. Location is just as important as speed. Follow these steps and you will find out how to throw a fastball.
Step #1-Warm up
A fastball requires the use of almost all of the muscles in your body. Stretching and warming up is essential to avoid injury. Do a full body stretch of legs as well as upper body. A good one for your arms and shoulders is as follows. Extend both arms straight out from the side of your body at shoulder height. Start rolling them in small circles. As you continue widen the circle as to roll them to the full range of motion that your shoulder will permit. After you feel loose and warmed up you need to warm up the arm with a throwing motion. Start a little further away than the pitchers mound and do a light toss with the catcher. As you feel warmer start throwing off the mound in a smooth motion, simply following through. When you feel like you are completely warmed up you are ready to start.
Step #2-The grip
The first grip is for a 2 seam fastball. Hold the ball with your index finger and middle finger laying along the narrow part of the stitching. This grip will give you some late action on your fastball and has a tendency to make hitters miss. The second grip is know as a 4 seam fastball. Again you grip the ball with your index finger and your middle finger. The fingers should meet the seem almost in a perpendicular fashion. The fingertips will end up just past the stitching and the rest of the finger will be on the leather. Not much movement on this one. However, it is a great pitch when you want to muster everything you have and fire one.
Step #3-The throw
The same motion will work with either grip. Start by going into your wind up. As you are coming out of it start driving with your legs. Most people do not realize it but a lot of power comes from driving with your legs off of the rubber. As the arm comes around through the throwing motion, make sure your elbow is above your shoulder. If you don’t you will be “pushing” the ball and lose some considerable velocity. As your arm comes through the motion, keep your eye on the catchers glove and follow through letting the ball roll off of your fingers.
It sounds easy learning how to throw a fastball. This pitch requires constant practice. First you must pick a target. Without location this pitch is useless. You can throw it as hard as you want, but with no control it has no effect. Remember these steps and go through your delivery over and over. Keep going through these motions until your mechanics come together. Find out where in your wind up that your release point should be. By aiming at a target you will be able to tell if you should release it earlier or later in your delivery based on where the ball ends up. It will almost be muscle memory. With repetition it will all start to gel and you will be ready to face live batters.
Remember that this is the most important pitch in baseball. Once you learn it you can move on to learning even more pitches to put in your arsenal. Follow these steps and you are on your way to learning how to throw a fastball.