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One Great Changeup and a Hitter’s Perspective

By Dan Gazaway
I love it when a pitcher has a great change. The Circle Change just happens to be one of the deadliest changeups out there. The reason: It not only slows down, it has wicked movement.
The Circle Change has a screwball type movement and it breaks down and away. It appears to look like a fastball and is very deceiving to a batters eyes.
To throw this pitch pronate your wrist and forearm slightly inwards. Your arm slot and arms speed is the same as your fastball. Place your fingers in the same position as you do with your fastball (thumb and middle finger split the baseball in half). Next, make a circle with your thumb and index finger. The tighter the circle the more drop you will have. However, your wrist and forearm angle is more important than the grip with this pitch. The most difficult part of this pitch is the forearm angle.
Gripping The Circle Change
The smaller the circle, the more downward movement you will have on the pitch. The slight wrist and forearm pronation is important when throwing the circle change. I recommend starting to throw this pitch making a C-shape instead of a circle when you first try this pitch. You will not find success with this pitch unless you throw the circle (or okay sign) toward home plate; that is what truly slows the pitch down. Most pitcher’s think they are throwing a circle or a c-change just by gripping the pitch correctly. The C or Circle is thrown at the catcher. Again, Keep your arm speed the same so that the pitch will be deceivingly slow to the hitter.
Arguably the most challenging pitch to learn is the circle change because of how the pitch is released. While the pitch can be tricky to learn, do not alter your body movement or motion in any way while attempting to throw it. Instead, work hard on the wrist and forearm angle.
I recommend just playing catch with it practicing the release.
Releasing The Pitch:
Throw the circle change early in the count and try to get a ground ball out of it. Remember, it is best to throw fewer pitches in an inning than to try and strike everyone out. The best change-up counts are the same as the split-finger fastball counts 3-1, 2-1, and 2-0. Also, whenever a fastball is in order a changeup can be thrown in its place. Becoming a successful pitcher simply means you mess with and throw off a hitter’s timing. When you are successful at doing that you will get any hitter out.
A Hitter’s perspective on a changeup.
“Besides the slider, a good change-up is terribly frustrating for most hitters. Because of its resemblance to a fastball initially, it can be particularly deceiving in fastball counts. I’m not sure why I don’t see more good change-ups in youth baseball today, but it’s a very much underutilized pitch.
Hitters hate facing pitchers who change speeds well, it’s tough to get good timing on anything. For a great example of this, you have to look no further than Jamie Moyer, who at age 45, helped his Phillies win a World Series championship in 2008. His signature pitch throughout his entire career has been his outstanding change-up. With a fastball that rarely ever reached 85 mph, Moyer’s ability to keep hitters off balance has paid off big time.
Circle change-ups with movement are deceiving and I would argue are nearly unhittable if thrown in the right location and in the right count. Being a pitcher also throughout my collegiate career, I relied on the change-up a lot to keep hitters off balance. Early in my pitching career I was leery of developing it because the thought of throwing a pitch slower to hitters seemed backwards. Wow, was I mistaken as it became my best pitch!”
Dan Gazaway is the owner of The Pitching Academy http://www.facebook.com/ThePitchingAcademy  and has been coaching pitchers for over 15 years.  His instructional products have been a valuable resource for many coaches, parents and pitchers of all ages.  His website is http://www.thepitchingacademy.com. Get their FREE pitching grips ebook here (use coupon code thepitchingacademy) Want nasty movement on all of your pitches! Get your copy of the pitching grips and workouts DVD. Disc 2 of our best selling 4 Disc series.

Throw Hard Son… How Dad?

By Dan Gazaway
Have your parents or coach ever told you to throw hard?I’m sure they have.It’s common to hear from the stands. “Hey, Dan throw hard.”

The problem with screaming this from the stands is that the majority of the time you are trying to throw hard, you just haven’t been taught exactly how to do it.
So, where does velocity come from?
Velocity comes from the ground up, from your feet to your fingertips. Your body has to do everything mechanically correct so that you can maximize your throwing potential.
The great news is.. once you know how to throw correctly.. you will not only throw much faster, you will throw much more relaxed, you will feel a lot less pressure in your throwing arm and you will most likely last longer every game you pitch.  Throwing late in the game gives your team a higher likelihood of winning.
Here are a few pitching tips that will help you add some “pop” to the ball:
1. Make sure all of your momentum goes toward home plate: any time your momentum goes anywhere else but toward the plate, you lose MPH and can put more pressure on your throwing arm.  
2. Throw with your legs: Be explosive to foot strike gathering momentum a long the way. Too many pitchers aren’t explosive and don’t generate any power with their legs. They are what I call “arm focused” pitchers.
3. Lead with your hips: When you lift your leg make sure your hips lead the way, not your front shoulder. This will help you generate better momentum toward the plate.
4. Rotate your hips: After foot strike be quick to get your hips all the way around. To help you do this, get on the “tip toe” of your back foot quickly. This helps bring your hips around. Be sure to keep your foot on the ground all the way to release of the pitch as you continue your momentum toward the plate.
Now those are all great tips and of course there is much more to velocity than what I’ve just mentioned here. In my pitching mechanics and coaching pitchers DVD I go into great detail (simplified detail) about how to add MPH to your fastball demonstrating all of the techniques I just mentioned and many more.
Have a great season!
Dan Gazaway is the owner of The Pitching Academy http://www.facebook.com/ThePitchingAcademy  and has been coaching pitchers for over 15 years.  His instructional products have been a valuable resource for many coaches, parents and pitchers of all ages.  His website is http://www.thepitchingacademy.com. Get their FREE pitching grips ebook here (use coupon code thepitchingacademy)

How to Throw Pitches

By Dan Gazaway

One of the most enjoyable parts of pitching is learning how to throw different pitches. Admit it! You enjoy making the batter look like a fool swinging at a curveball they weren’t expecting; or lunging three feet forward to try and reach your change. It’s a fun part of pitching and it is a necessary part. Your job as a pitcher is to keep the hitters off balance so they don’t get a good jump on the ball. Great pitchers master this craft.

The three most important things to have in your pitching arsenal are change of speed, movement and location. If you have those three with three great pitches; you will experience success on the hill. You will keep the hitters guessing what’s coming. With this success formula, if you don’t get a ton of strikeouts you will get a lot of pop ups and ground outs. You will also have a better chance of keeping your pitch count much lower which, perhaps, is the biggest bonus.
 
Here’s the sad fact. Most pitchers that throw off speed pitches run the risk of injury. I have written previous articles and I have been blogging on this very topic all over the internet right now. I think it is very important that young pitchers learn how to throw different pitches because they won‘t have success otherwise (every hitter catches up to any fastball). However, I don’t think it important enough to learn other pitches until they have learned how to throw with correct pitching mechanics first.
Here are some things to avoid when you are learning how to throw an additional pitch:
1) Avoid twisting your arm just before release of the baseball
2) Avoid changing your arm slot “forcing” a better rotation on the ball or downward movement
3) Don’t Change your fastball mechanics: As a pitcher you want to be deceiving. It is very difficult to deceive an experienced batter when you look different each time you throw a certain pitch. You are only informing the batter what to expect.
4) Avoid changing your arm speed to take a bit off the pitch. The only thing that changes is your wrist and forearm angle when you throw a different pitch. Your fastball is thrown with the palm facing home plate, curveball is like a “karate chop” at release and the C Change is when the C is thrown directly toward your 4) Avoid changing your arm speed to take a bit off the pitch. The only thing that changes is your wrist and forearm angle when you throw a different pitch. Your fastball is thrown with the palm facing home plate, curveball is like a “karate chop” at release and the C Change is when the C is thrown directly toward your target. You don’t need to get fancy and start messing around with all of the other “stuff” that is only going to harm you in the long run. My advice is to keep pitching simple while you learn how to throw pitches. Spend time learning all you can about the pitch before you just go out and try throwing it.

Dan Gazaway is the owner of The Pitching Academy http://www.facebook.com/ThePitchingAcademy  and has been coaching pitchers for over 15 years.  His instructional products have been a valuable resource for many coaches, parents and pitchers of all ages.  His website is http://www.thepitchingacademy.com. Get their FREE pitching grips ebook here (use coupon code thepitchingacademy)

Read the February OnDeck Newsletters

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Velocity Concerns Before and During Puberty

By Dan Gazaway

It’s been my experience, teaching many pitchers throughout the years, that velocity comes with maturity and when proper mechanics are incorporated in a pitcher’s delivery.

Many coaches are concerned if their athlete is on the low end of the totem pole when it comes to hurling the heat.  For good reason to, velocity is important, however, it’s very difficult to tell how much potential a pitcher truly has until after they mature if your only looking at velocity.  There are so many other things to consider when rating a pitcher.

As I was working with one of my students tonight who just turned 16 (I started working with him when he was 12) I remembered him battling with velocity until he was about 15.  Throughout many of the lessons he would bring up how slow he threw, his father would often ask if his boy really had what it took to pitch.

This pitcher is a late bloomer, but he stuck with it and it has paid off big time for him. Now he is throwing hard and his pitches are moving a lot more.  I honestly think he wouldn’t be the pitcher he is today if he wouldn’t have been annoyed by how slow he was throwing.  He is dedicated and has worked very hard to be where he is now.

I still believe he will put on another 5 mph by the end of this year because its just that time for him and his mechanics are solid.  Most of his momentum is going where it needs to go and there is hardly a wasted movement in his delivery.

I’ve taught several pitchers like him that mature late.  Many think they don’t have what it takes to be a pitcher because of velocity alone, but that simply isn’t the case during adolescent years.

If you yourself aren’t throwing as hard as some of the other boys your age and you have a strong desire to pitch, stick with it.  Keep working very hard on your mechanics, core strength training, speed and agility etc. and you may just surprise yourself and others later. Have you noticed that some kids that seem to have a natural ability to throw a baseball early on don’t seem to have the work ethic to make it far?  Those that have weaknesses in sports, but have a burning desire to do whatever it takes to overcome it, seem to make it further than those that have it easy in their youth simply because they think they don’t have to work as hard.  The fact is, those that put in the time and dedication are the ones that succeed the most.

I recall I was one of the fastest pitchers in our little league from 10-12 years old; then a crazy thing happened, it seemed like I couldn’t throw hard anymore.  All of the other pitchers in my grade were throwing hard and I couldn’t; it didn’t help that I was 6 months younger than everyone.  But what happened? I turned into one of the slowest, if not the very slowest pitcher from about 13-15 years old.

I remember hearing in the dugouts “man this kid throws slow”; then I would strike them out or they would hit a slow roller.  Luckily I had an awesome coach and great pitching coaches who believed in me and kept me pitching most every game.  Later on, within 6 months to a year, I became one of the fastest pitchers again.

Stick to proper mechanics, keep a solid work ethic and believe in yourself and you’ll always know you gave it your all with no regrets.  That work ethic will follow you wherever you go in life.

Dan Gazaway is Owner and Founder of The Pitching Academy (www.thepitchingacademy.net). He has instructed over 2,000 pitchers in the last seven years and received a Bachelor’s Degree as a Health Education Specialist at Utah State University. He is a motivational speaker for topics ranging from attitude, goal-setting and leadership and be contacted at contact@thepitchingacademy.net.