When you are standing on the pitcher’s mound ready to deliver the game winning pitch, which pitch are you going to choose? Imagine it’s the end of the game so you’re probably too tired to deliver a perfect spin or powerful pitch.
When you’re starting to get tired, the best pitch would be to throw a pitch that requires less effort and can get the best result. In this case, you should opt for the 4-seam fastball pitch.
What is a 4-seam fastball pitch?
A 4-seam fastball pitch is one of the basic pitches in the game of baseball. The name of this pitch is derived from the number of times the seam appears parallel while on its way to the batter. Due to the fast pace and straight direction, it can be lethal for left-handed batters.
If you prefer watching videos to learn, see how to throw the 4 seam fastball pitch below.
How to throw a 4-seam fastball?
The pitch may look simple when demonstrated by a fellow player, but there are some things that are to be kept in mind while playing this pitch. Let’s go through the various parts of the technique.
The first thing that you should get right about the 4 seam fastball is the way you hold the ball. If you hold the ball the wrong way, you’ll lose a lot of strength on the pitch. You can follow these simple steps to get the pitch right.
Start off by placing the tip of your index and middle finger directly on the seams that are sewn perpendicularly on the ball.
The ‘horseshoe seam’ of the ball should face into your ring finger of the throwing hand. The seam is mostly referred to as ‘Horseshoe’ due to its horseshoe-like resemblance.
To secure the grip, place your thumb directly beneath the ball, where you can find smooth leather. The best place to get a thumb grip of the ball is to put your thumb at the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom of the ball.
Now the intensity of the grip depends on your intent behind choosing the 4-seam fastball pitch. There players who hold the ball as softly as an egg, while others prefer holding it a little firmly.
It’s important to note, the soft grip adds more spin to the ball, and a firm grip adds more force.
There should be a sufficient ‘gap’ between the ball and your palm. This enables you to throw a perfect hard 4-seam fastball pitch that has maximum backspin and velocity. Keeping a loose grip can reduce the friction between your hand and the baseball.
By reducing friction on the ball, the faster the baseball will leave your hand.
The angle is one of the most important factors behind the success of a pitch as it decides the direction and the target of the ball. A4-seam fastball pitch actually doesn’t involve that much of an angled throw. Consequently, if you get the angle right, most of your work is done.
Imagine that you’re Bruce Lee and you’re karate chopping straight down. That’s similar to how you should throw a 4 seam fastball.
The throw action of a 4-seam fastball pitch is more like a ‘Karate Chop’ that starts from the top and goes to center unfolding your entire arm.
Releasing the ball:
You have learned the grip and understand the throw angle, now it comes to the last and the most important part of the pitch. It is crucial to get this final step right as speed, spin and the direction of the ball can be influenced due to the release.
When releasing the ball during a 4-seam fastball pitch you need to make sure that the ball rubs off your index and middle fingers.
This is important as doing this will add spin to the ball making it a perfect 4-seam fastball pitch.
Drills to perfect your 4-seam fastball pitch:
Though learning the 4-seam fastball pitch is not a big deal and should only require a little practice. These are some drills that will help you to not only learn the pitch but also execute it perfectly every time you pull out this pitch in a baseball game.
Finding the seam:
This one of the first and the basic drills that you need to practice when learning a 4-seam fastball pitch. It helps you train your mind to automatically find the seams and the 4-seam fastball position for the pitch. The drill is very simple:
Toss the ball in the air
Let it land in your palms
Find the seam and place the fingers in position
You can practice this drill for as long as you want and once you are able to find the seam quickly, you can try to find the seam without looking at the ball.
To understand how to perform this drill you can watch this video:
The elbow drill helps in developing great spin and power in the 4-seam fastball pitch. It is a very simple drill once you get the angle right. Here is what you need to do:
Kneel on one knee
Keep the standing knee at a 90-degree angle.
Lift your arms to the shoulder level
Fold your arms from the elbow at 90-degree angle
Once you are in position hold the ball in your hand try throwing it without moving your arm.
To understand how to perform this drill, you can watch this video:
When performing this drill, your focus should be towards adding a spin to the pitch by ensuring that it ends with your fingers touching the ball.
The 4-seam fastball pitch can be a remarkable pitch to end a game get some strikeouts while you’re tired. With practice, you can master the 4-seam fastball pitch and use it in your games too.
Have any tips for others trying to learn the 4-seam fastball? Or remember any particular instances where you struck out others with a 4-seam fastball?
My name is David Farnum and I’ve been a Little League Coach in my community for the past 7 years. With 2 boys playing baseball and 1 girl playing softball, most weekends I can be found near a baseball diamond.