How to Throw a Fastball Better- The 4-Seam Fastball Grip
The Four-Seam Fastball - A Good Pitch Starts With a Good Grip
Throwing an effective pitch is always a matter of details. Not having a proper grip can mean the difference between a fastball and a foul ball.
One of the most impressive aspects of baseball is how pitchers in major leagues are able to throw balls at such extreme velocities so accurately. Aside from endlessly training to improve their arm speed, one of the major keys to this is in the details of their grip. That's why we've put together a quick guide that will teach you how to properly utilize a 4-seam fastball grip to increase your pitch speed and accuracy
The 4-Seam Fastball Grip
The basic fastball is probably the most important and commonly thrown type of pitch in all of baseball (especially Major League Baseball), and the four-seam pitch is by far the most popular variation used. Usually, this is one of, if not the most accurate and fastest pitch in a baseball pitcher's arsenal. While knowing more advanced pitches like curveballs and sliders is certainly useful, every pitcher needs to master the basics of throwing a truly speedy pitch in baseball.
It is also useful to know as a throw for fielding positions, as it can make the biggest difference when trying to get the ball to a base as quickly as possible.
What is a 4-Seam Grip?
A four-seam grip is a type of baseball grip used when throwing pitches. It is designed to offer the highest potential velocity to a throw and is known for travelling in a straight line longer than other types of throws.
Why is it called a Four-Seam Grip?
The pitch gets its name from the fact that when it's thrown, four-seams are visible on the ball with each rotation when looking at it head-on.
What is the advantage of using a four-seam grip?
The main advantage offered by this basic pitch is the speed and travel path of the ball after it has been thrown. Because the ball travels so fast and stays straight for so long, it can confuse batters who are expecting the ball's path to curve downward than it actually does, which can result in a high strike rate in the hands of a skilled pitcher.
How to Do a Proper Four-Seam Grip
- Begin by placing the index and middle fingertips of your throwing arm over the perpendicular seams of the baseball, meaning that your fingers will form a right angle with the seams where the two intersect.
- The end of the seam where it curves like a "U" should be facing the ring finger of your throwing hand.
- Next, rest your thumb on the smooth leather of the other side of the baseball, between the parallel seams. Your ring and pinky fingers should be curled towards the palm while maintaining as little contact with the ball as possible.
- You should hold the ball softly in your fingertips, rather than clasping it with your fingers and palm. Imagine that you're holding an egg or something fragile.
- There should be a noticeable gap between your fingers and palm. If you are gripping it too tightly, you can slow down your throw dramatically or create extra movement, this is known as "choking" the ball.
Maintaining as little surface contact between your skin and the ball as possible is one of the keys to throwing a good fastball and can make a drastic difference in speed- the less skin there is creating friction, the faster the ball will leave your hand. Ultimately, your goal with this grip should be to create as much backspin as possible when the ball is thrown.
How to Throw a 4-Seam Fastball
To throw a successful four-seam fastball, your main focus should be on creating backspin by making a "yanking" motion down on the ball as you release it. You should feel your fingertips pressing down into the seams before the ball takes flight.
Depending on the angle of your arm, you can add or subtract a bit of movement horizontally and change the direction of the throw. The lower the angle of the arm, the more lateral movement in the throw.
If you are still young or just starting out in baseball, you should pay more attention to the mechanics of the throw, especially creating good backspin, rather than worrying about executing a hard-thrown fastball. Mastering good technique at lower average velocities will help you maintain accuracy, and with time will also make you throw faster and harder.
Top Four-Seam Fastball Grips
While the four-seam fastball is considered its own type of pitch, there are still variations within it that can alter the behaviour of the ball when it's thrown. Below are the three most common pitch variations of the four-seam grip.
FF1 - Standard Grip
The standard four-seam grip, where the fingers have roughly an inch of space between them.
FF2 - Close Grip
In this variation, the fingers are close enough together that they are touching.
FF3 - Wide Grip
Here the fingers are spread out as wide as possible.
Generally speaking, most people should focus on using the standard grip when first starting out, and then consider trying the others to find what's most comfortable.
Things to Consider When Using a 4-Seam Grip
While it is true that the four-seam fastball is easily the most preferred throw in the game, it can be a dangerous pitch to use if you become a fastball-exclusive pitcher. A clever batter with good reaction time will be able to overcome the speed of the pitch and time it consistently if you do not also use a different family of pitches or some kind of change-up pitch in between fastballs. Offspeed pitches are great for switching up a play and keeping the batter guessing. Pitching is still a thinking game at the end of the day, and you need to stay one step ahead of the batter at all times.