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What's YOUR #2?

    Working with youth athletes has always brought me a great sense of fulfillment.  Being able to coach and mentor younger players has been a passion of mine as long as I've been an athlete myself.  Sharing baseball related knowledge and practicing fundamentals has consistently been at the top of my priority list, which brings me to the topic of this blog.
    No matter what age the pitcher is that I work with, I try to reinforce to them that when a curveball is thrown right it places less stress on the arm.  However, even a curve thrown correctly still needs to be limited in terms of the number thrown per game (no more than 20-25% of the total pitch count).  While establishing a good curveball is important, it should not get in the way of developing a good off-speed pitch. When I ask a pitcher I'm working with what their 2nd best pitch is, I want to hear, "My change-up!"
    In an era when hitters are stronger than ever, aluminum bats are several ounces lighter, and the major emphasis is on hitting for power the change-up has developed into an invaluable pitch.  When thrown with the same arm speed and the same arm slot as a fastball, the change-up will look like the fastball in every way except that it will be thrown 8 to 15 miles per hour slower.  This change of speed will upset the hitter's timing and cause them to swing early.  Consequently, the batter will either hit the ball on their front foot (therefore losing power) or perhaps miss the ball altogether for a swinging strike.
    The ideal change-up is a pitch that can be thrown consistently for a low strike, at a lower speed, that looks exactly like a fastball.  The change-up, when thrown correctly is a great pitch to compliment the fastball and can be used in fastball counts to retire aggressive hitters. There are as many ways to throw a change-up as there are pitchers.  As long as it gets the desired results of appearing to be a fastball, low in the zone, at a reduced speed, it is a quality change-up.

    Work on it!

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