Learn The Pitches
4 Seam Fastball
This is the most common pitch in baseball. It is thrown for velocity and is the most straight forward pitch. It has a back-spin rotation. Also known as “ 4- Seamer”
2 Seam Fastball
The Two Seam is another fastball with backward rotation. It is thrown for velocity but depending on the pitcher can have a slight tail to the pitch (left or right). Also known as “2-seamer
The Curveball is an off-speed pitch that first moves up out of the pitcher’s hand. When thrown by a right-handed pitcher the curveball breaks across and down to a right-handed hitter and down and in on a left-handed hitter. Vice versa is correct for a left-handed pitcher. There are many different Curve balls out there, but they all have the same general characteristics.
The slider is pitch thrown with velocity that has a similar path as the curveball but does not move up out of the hand at first. Instead it may look like a fastball at first but has a signature red dot on it. This pitch is faster than the curve but slower than a fastball and has a more lateral break.
A good changeup in baseball is hard to identify by rotation because it will have the same spin as a Four Seam fastball or a Two Seamer. Ways to help identify a changeup early are a palmed grip from the pitcher or a slowed arm motion.
4 Seam Fastball
This is the most common pitch in softball and is thrown the straightest. The pitch has forward rotation and is thrown for velocity. Also known as “4-seamer”.
2 Seam Fastball
The Two seam is a less common fastball found in softball, but some pitchers throw it. Depending on the pitcher the “2-Seamer” can have a tail left or right. This pitch is also thrown with velocity.
A softball curve can be thrown with some variations, but all curves have a certain circle look that the Seams make. A curve ball from a right-handed pitcher will break away from a right-handed hitter and in on a left-handed hitter. Vice versa is the same for a lefty pitcher. This pitch is thrown with medium velocity.
The screw ball is like the curve with its velocity (medium) and that it has some variations. It differs with its rotation, breaking in on a right-handed batter from a right-handed pitcher and away from a lefty hitter.
The rise balls Seams give the pitch a distinctive red dot. The pitch is thrown with velocity and rarely as a strike. Elite pitchers can start the pitch low enough so that it breaks as a strike.
Change Up (Back-Handed)
There are many variations of this pitch with similar spins. The back-handed changeup has a unique spin, like a sideways 2-seamer. This is thrown to deceive the hitter by looking like it has velocity but really is the slowest pitch.
The drop ball is a tricky pitch for hitters to identify because it has similar spin to a four-seam fastball. Like the rise ball the pitch is rarely thrown as a strike and is thrown with velocity.
Before one understands what pitches look like it is best to understand the Seam Readers Process. This is the correct approach to be a Seam Reader and never be fooled at the plate again.
1. Think Fastball, React to everything else
This is the first step in the Seam Readers Process and should be the first thought in a batter’s mind when they approach the plate. The reason we want to Think Fastball and React to everything else is because the fastball is the most common pitch and the only one that can blow right by a hitter. If one is thinking curveball or any other off-speed pitch for the matter they would not be able to react to the fastball.
PRO TIP- “Fastball first”
2. Hard Focus on Release Point
Hard Focus on Release Point is the second step in the Seam Readers Process, this is the first physical step the hitter will do. We say there two types of focus, first is Soft Focus. This is the state of focus the batter will naturally be in at the plate. Hard Focus is for a short amount of time and comes right as the pitcher begins their wind up or a little after and remains until the ball is hit or crosses the plate. Hard Focusing on release helps one pick up the ball and in turn the seams, as soon as possible.
PRO TIP- A good way to get a head start on this process is in the on deck circle. As we all know, it is a work station.
3. Load to Read
Almost simultaneously as finding the release point comes the third step in the Seam Readers Process. Load to Read is what will trigger the brain to start Seam Reading and will generate timing while in Hard Focus. The Load is done right at release or right before or after depending on the hitter. One should already have a general idea of where the release is, in the Load step.
PRO TIP- Just like the tip above, a good way to practice the load and Seam Reading is in the on deck circle. A lot of practice is needed to develop the trigger from Load to Read, but it is done daily.
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