Different Baseball Pitches

By Steven Ellis former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

Great pitchers use a variety of different baseball pitches, pitch speeds and movements to gain competitive advantage against the batter. Although learning a new pitch can be fun, it can also be difficult. The learning curve is steep; learning to throw a new pitch requires a lot of practice (and patience). That's why I really encourage the pitchers I work with to develop and master just two or three pitches - the fastball, a change up and a breaking ball (such as a slider, a splitter or a curveball) - instead of working on four or five different pitches.

It'll be far more beneficial to you as you advance in pitching to have two or three above average pitches than it will be to have four or five mediocre or below average ones. Even at the professional levels of the game, most pitchers throw just three quality pitches - and many relief pitchers and closers, such as Mariano Rivera, throw just two.

Different Baseball Pitches

Here are 12 different types of baseball pitches and how they move when thrown correctly.

Different baseball pitches

Descriptions Of Various Baseball Pitches

Now that you've looked at pictures of different baseball pitches, let's take a closer look at some of the more common ones - what they do and how they're used to get batters out.

Four-seam fastball - Maximum velocity and should have best command. This is the most important pitch because everything else works off of it.

Two-seam fastball (a.k.a. sinker) - This fastball does just that, it sinks. A very good pitch for inducing ground balls.

Cut-fastball - Holding the ball slightly off center, it will run away from the arm side. Usually a few mph slower than a four-seam fastball. Good for jamming hitters.

Split-finger fastball - Strictly an out pitch. Dives down hard at home plate, many times getting missed swings.

Change-up - Slower than a fastball, but thrown with the same arm action. The arm speed is very important in getting the maximum effectiveness. This pitch helps control bat speed.

Curveball - Most often a strikeout pitch. Dives down as it gets to home plate. Many times the velocity is as effective as the movement, because it's usually much slower than a fastball.

Slider - In between a fastball and a curveball. It's harder than a curveball with less downward action. The slider has a smaller break with a tighter spin. Many times you can see a small dot in the baseball as it's coming toward you.

Knuckleball - A pitch that has very little or no spin. It's very difficult to control and catch. No one knows what it will do usually, which makes it also hard to hit. A very hard pitch to throw.

Forkball - Thrown hard while held between the index and middle fingers at varying depths. Usually tumbles and drops violently, often diagonally. Known as an out pitch, but also can be hard on the arm.

How do you throw your pitches? Post pictures of your pitching grips on my baseball pitching discussion forums.


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