Our 2017 series on learning baseball from those who teach it best debuts with this week’s feature on one of baseball’s most underutilized pitches…from University of Dayton pitching coach, Ryne Romick.
By Ryne Romick
I’m writing this not as a full-proof plan to give yourself the world’s greatest change up….but to just spill some thoughts on my favorite pitch with which to watch players progress over the course of their 3-5 college years. If there is a pitch that I would say is under-developed in high school-aged pitchers, other than the FB (fastball), it’s definitely the CH (changeup). Why? Here are a couple thoughts…
1. Coach’s egos. Don’t get me wrong, we all have one. But as a wise man once told me just bring the ego to the table at 49%. I think kids struggle with the pitch and ultimately throw it away at too young an age because they are forced to throw a certain type of CH. Whether it be the one their coach used to throw, or the one he saw Liriano throwing back in PNC when he went to a game. This usually never works.
2. It’s always an experiment. For this reason, as arm strength increases, body mass increases, and spin rates increase, slight alterations to the grip may need to be made in order to keep the effectiveness of the pitch.
What do you need to throw a good CH? In my mind you need a grip that allows the pitcher to alleviate all thought of hesitancy to throw the crap out of it. Typically, guys are shown some grip that when they turn it loose, it brings the first few rows of seats into play.
So guys will say, “I want to work on a CH and nothing has worked, what should I do?” Here’s my advice. Grip your FB. Now use your two middle fingers to grip your FB grip. Don’t move your thumb or your pinkie. This is your best starting point. Let it eat and see what you get. It should be firm but with less spin than your FB.
Now we have a starting point. Next, you have 3 options. From this grip, you can move the ball more towards your pinkie. You can also move the ball closer to your palm or you can start to split your fingers.
All 3 of these simple tips will take velocity off of the ball.
The CH is mostly feel and if you ask 10 pitchers you will most likely find 7-8 different grips. Don’t force yourself into a certain grip. There is no “best CH grip”. They can all work but it takes the one that works for you.
You have to allow the grip to do the work of decreasing spin and decreasing velocity. Some players will get under a change-up, short-arm it, or simply just collapse in order to slow the ball down going to the plate. As the skill level of hitters increase, these cues tell a hitter it’s coming before it leaves your hand.
Choose the grip that allows you to throw the CH with FB arm action, FB intent, and FB arm speed in order to achieve the results you want. Experiment with grips. Find comfort and remove doubts throughout the pitch. It can be your greatest weapon.