Teaching The Change Up

  • Updated on Dec. 17, 2016

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ATTENTION PITCHERS: One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

Kyle Hendricks changeup pitching gif
Kyle Hendricks changeup

How to grip a change up

  1. The ball is gripped deep in the hand, balanced and held loosely. The ball should rest up against the top ridge of the palm or at the base of the fingers.
  2. We prefer the 3 finger grip because we find it easier to control. For a RHP looking at the back of his hand, and the ball as a clock, place the thumb at 7 o’clock, the little finger at 5 o’clock and the first 3 fingers on top of the ball at 11, 12, 1 o’clock.
  3. The finger tips and pads are raised slightly and the finger pressure is between the first and second finger joints
  4. Don’t set the grip until the ball is hidden in the glove just before the hand break.

The mechanics of throwing a change up

Arm action:

  1. The arm action is just like the fast ball until the pitcher comes into the acceleration phase, then:
    • Bring the hand in closer to the head which causes the elbow to lead longer.
    • Start an early pronation of the wrist.

Release point:

  1. Upon release, the fingers are lifted off the ball, the ball rolls up the fingers.
  2. The wrist and hand are pronated a little early which stops the wrist from popping forward. This takes velocity off the ball and creates movement.
  3. On the follow through, collapse the body slightly. Don’t try to get too much backside drive and hip rotation into the pitch.
  4. Work for full arm extension to the plate on the follow through just like on the fastball.

Common problems with the change up

  1. Slowing down the arm and body motion.
  2. Over emphasizing the fastball motion.
  3. Releasing the ball too much from the side caused by turning the hand over too much.
  4. Dropping the hand and elbow and short arming across the body.
  5. Not working on and using the pitch enough to master it.

Using a change up effectively

I don't view the change up as a strike out pitch, but a pitch that is miss timed causing weak contact.

Even change ups out of the strike zone can be effective because it effects a hitter's confidence that he can sit on the fastball.

The best times to change speeds are:

  • The next pitch after any fastball
  • To big swingers
  • To aggressive hitters
  • When the batter is ahead in count - 1-0, 2-1, or 2-0
  • When a hitter is trying to pull or is out in front of the pitches

If the pitcher can develop a good change up, his fastball will appear faster and the hitters will be less aggressive. The change up is more effective in college and pro baseball because the hitters are stronger, more aggressive and can handle a good fastball.

Learning different pitches

Remember this: Even though this site describes a method of throwing five or six different pitches, it does not mean any pitcher should attempt to learn or throw all these pitches.

High school and college pitchers should try to master just three pitches. Even many major league pitchers are successful with three basic pitches. Some may add a specialty or fourth pitch as they get more experienced.

Youth pitchers 14 and under should concentrate on developing the fastball and learning to throw it to spots, plus learning to change speeds on the pitch.

Pitchers who haven't reached puberty should not throw breaking pitches competitively due to their lack of muscle, ligament and bone development. The breaking pitches create more stress on the elbow joint and bicep in young pitchers may not be developed enough to properly decelerate the forearm.

Get my pitching velocity program

Youth pitching program
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

What do you think?

Now it's time to hear from you:

How do you throw a change up? Are there any change up tips that I missed?

Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.

Either way, leave a comment and let me know.

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