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You Need a Good Change-Up

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by Gerald Warner, Softball Pitching Instructor
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Few softball pitchers, even those with good speed, are able to overpower all batters with their fastball.  In time, sometimes as soon as the second time through the line-up, some of the better hitters will be able to time a fastball-only pitcher and start getting their bat on the ball.

The change-up offers a change-of-speed alternative, but more importantly, it gives a pitcher an exceptional psychological tool to keep batters guessing.


Good hitting is a combination of swinging on the right plane, with good bat speed, and with correct timing.

Good pitching is a combination of getting the batter to swing on the wrong plane and messing up her timing.



MOST TEENAGE PITCHERS throw their change-up too fast!
A good deceptive change, with a decent fastball, can increase a pitcher’s effectiveness by more than 50%.  When thrown with good deception  the change-up, thrown at 65% to 75% of the speed of the fastball, offers a tremendous element of control over the batter. 
   (To make a change-up deceiving, the start of the wind-up, the
    pitcher's facial expression and mannerisms, and arm movement
    need all need to look just like those of the fastball)
With a change-up, you put the batter on the defensive:
"What is she going to throw to me this time?".  
Now it is YOU, the pitcher, who is in charge.

Unfortunately, some pitchers (and even a parent or coach) can quickly lose confidence when a change-up misses its mark, or gets tagged for a double.  Something says, "She just hit the change-up," which somehow gets interpreted as "THEY are hitting the change-up all the time." 

Nothing is more disheartening or damaging to a pitcher with a decent change-up than to hear her coach say, "Don't throw the change up any more".  "Just throw fastballs".  "Just throw strikes".  To restate the highlighted statement two paragraphs above:  Eliminating a good deceptive change-up, and using only a decent fastball, can decrease a pitcher's effectiveness by more than 50%.

Typically, we encourage a pitching student to start working on a change-up after she has developed good pitching mechanics, and can throw with relatively decent accuracy and good speed.  Depending on the learning ability this is usually 4 to 8 months after starting.

Then, the third pitch we teach is usually a drop ball, but when first starting, we have it thrown at a speed halfway between the speed of the fastball and the change…therefore 80% to 90% of full speed.  By starting work on the drop ball at this slower speed, it increases the likelihood of getting the spin started precisely at the release point.  As timing improves, we have the pitcher gradually increase the speed of the drop.

SEE DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS for throwing any of the basic CHANGE-UP styles in the article found elsewhere on this website titled The Best Change-Up


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E-mail us,
  or call Pitching Instructor Gerald Warner in Colorado at (720) 200-4575




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