4-Seam Fastball - How To Grip A Four-Seam Fastball

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

The four seam fastball is the most basic pitch in baseball, and is the first pitch a young player will learn. It is basically the normal throwing grip, thus making it the easiest pitch to learn.

Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitcher, comments on the four seam fastball:
            "A four seam fastball is called a four seam fastball because when the ball is thrown the ball rotates such that there are four seams rotating in the air. This pitch typically will stay straight depending on your arm angle. Your arm angle is the angle at which your arm is at when you release the ball. The lower your arm angle, the more the ball will move on this pitch and the higher the arm angle, the less the ball will move on this pitch. To grip the four-seam fastball, place your index and middle fingertips directly on the perpendicular seam of the baseball. The "horseshoe seam" should face into your ring finger of your throwing hand... I call it 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. Grip this pitch softly, like an egg, in your fingertips. There should be a "gap" or space between the ball and your palm... This is the key to throwing a good, hard four-seam fastball with maximal backspin and velocity: A loose grip minimizes 'friction' between your hand and the baseball. The less friction, of course, the quicker the baseball can leave your hand."

Essentially, you want to throw the baseball with the most amount of backspin. Your fingers should hold the ball across the seams allowing you to get good spin. Notice in the picture how the fingers go across the seams:

It is important to remember not to “choke” the baseball. Don’t jam the ball back too far in your palm. Choking the ball will cause a decrease in velocity. You want to keep the ball out on your fingertips as much as comfortably possible, yet still possess good control.

The four seam fastball is usually the most accurate and fastest pitch in a pitcher’s repertoire, however it offers the least amount of movement. Because of this, a good hitter can usually time a pitcher’s four seam fastball.

A variation of the four seam fastball is the two seam fastball. Read about the two seamer in my other article “The Two Seam Fastball”. As with all pitches, practice makes perfect. The more you practice throwing the four seam fastball, the better it will be and the more comfortable you will feel throwing it.


 

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