How To Avoid Tipping Pitches
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Keeping the batters guessing at your pitches is a great way to keep them off balanced. If they do not know what pitch is coming, it will be difficult for them to hit it. However, certain mannerisms a pitcher may have can give away the pitch he is throwing which will give the hitters a huge advantage. Knowing what these mannerisms are can help you as a pitcher maintain the upper hand on the hitters.
A good hitter will be able to pick up on certain things you do as a pitcher that give away your pitches. Knowing what these mannerisms are can help you prevent doing them, and allow you to hide your pitches. The most common giveaway of your pitch is hand movement. If you violently move your hand around in your glove trying to get your changeup grip, the hitters will pick up on this and know exactly when you’re throwing the change.
To prevent this, it is wise to mix up the way you get your grip. If you normally have a tough time getting your changeup or curveball grip, you may want to “pretend” to get one of these grips, but get your fastball grip instead. Moving your hand around in your glove at random times can deceive a batter on the pitch you are throwing.
Slowing down the delivery is a common sign of an off speed pitch when a pitcher is trying to get a bigger velocity change. It is very important for a pitcher to remain consistent with his delivery speed no matter the pitch he is throwing.
Another giveaway is when a pitcher gets his grip before hiding the ball. Often times, a pitcher will find his grip while he is bringing the ball to his glove. A trained eye can pick up on this and know exactly what pitch you are planning to throw. Be sure to get your grip only when the ball is hidden in the pocket of your glove.
While some of the tips are common amongst many pitchers, every guy has his own idiosyncrasies common only to him. It may be something as small as a slight lick of his tongue on a fastball, or a shifty eye movement for a curveball. These small oddities may not even be noticeable by the player himself, yet can possible be picked up by the opposing team.
To prevent a hitter from picking up your pitches, it is important to realize when you are tipping your grips and work on preventing it. The best way to go about doing this is to have your teammates watch you when your pitch and see if they can find anything. Also, you may want to video tape yourself and go through your delivery frame by frame to see if any patterns arise. Once you notice a tip, you can work on blending it into your normal delivery or getting rid of it altogether.
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