How to Throw Changeup in Baseball

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The changeup is one of the most effective and deceptive pitches in baseball, offering pitchers a subtler alternative to fastballs and curveballs. Learning how to throw a changeup can significantly enhance a pitcher’s repertoire, making it a crucial skill for both aspiring and seasoned athletes. This pitch relies on finesse rather than force, aiming to disrupt the hitter’s timing by appearing like a fastball but arriving at the plate much slower. Mastering the art of the changeup requires practice, a solid grip, and perfecting the pitch’s mechanics. In the following sections, we’ll explore the steps and tricks to effectively mastering how to throw a changeup, enhancing your pitching game and keeping hitters guessing.

What is a Changeup in Baseball?

A changeup is a type of pitch in baseball that is designed to look like a fastball but arrives at the plate significantly slower. This pitch is effective because it disrupts the timing of the batter, often leading to a swing and miss or a poorly hit ball. The deception comes from the pitcher’s ability to throw the changeup with the same arm action and speed as a fastball, making it difficult for the batter to differentiate between the two until it’s too late. The changeup achieves its reduced velocity through various grip techniques and slight alterations in the pitcher’s arm speed. Mastery of this pitch can significantly enhance a pitcher’s effectiveness, as it adds a crucial element of unpredictability to their arsenal.

How to Pitch Changeup in Baseball

Step 1: Choose the Right Grip

Choosing the right grip is the foundation of an effective changeup. There are several grips used by pitchers, but one of the most common and easy to learn is the “circle change” grip. To execute this, you start by placing the baseball deep in your palm, ensuring it’s not resting too close to your fingers—to decrease the pitch’s velocity. Then, form a circle or an “okay” sign by touching the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. Rest the other three fingers—your middle, ring, and pinky—on top of the ball with slight pressure. It’s crucial that your grip is firm yet comfortable, as tension in your hand can affect the pitch’s outcome. This grip reduces the ball’s speed while allowing it to maintain the same arm action as a fastball, deceiving the batter. Remember, the key to a successful changeup is not solely in the grip but in maintaining consistent arm speed with your fastball, making the pitch’s slower speed a surprise to the batter. Practice this grip frequently to find the comfort and control necessary for an effective changeup.

Step 2: Maintain Your Arm Speed

Maintaining your arm speed is crucial when pitching a changeup. This step is essential because it ensures that the changeup mimics the look of a fastball, deceiving the batter into swinging too early. To effectively maintain your arm speed, focus on keeping your arm motion consistent with that of your fastball. Your arm should come over the top or from the side (depending on your natural throwing motion) at the same speed, regardless of the pitch type. It’s the grip and the slight relaxation of your wrist, not a deceleration of arm speed, that reduces the velocity of the pitch. A common mistake is to deliberately slow down your arm, which alerts the batter to the changeup. Instead, concentrate on a fluid and fast arm movement while letting the grip do the work of slowing down the ball. Practicing this consistently will help you disguise your changeup effectively, making it a powerful tool in your pitching arsenal.

Step 3: Adjust Your Release Point

Adjusting your release point is a subtle yet impactful way to improve your changeup. This adjustment entails releasing the ball slightly earlier than you would for a fastball. The reason for this change is to compensate for the reduced velocity; releasing the ball earlier allows it to travel in a trajectory that is more consistent with that of your fastball, making the difference in speed less noticeable to the batter. To find the ideal release point, experiment with releasing the ball at slightly different moments during your throw, paying close attention to how each variation affects the pitch’s path and the batter’s reaction. This fine-tuning process will enhance your ability to disguise the changeup, keeping batters off-balance and increasing your effectiveness on the mound. Remember, the goal is to make the release point adjustment subtle enough that it doesn’t tip off the batter but significant enough to maintain the illusion of a fastball until it’s too late for the hitter to adjust.

Step 4: Practice Consistent Delivery

To really master the changeup and make it an effective part of your pitching repertoire, practicing consistent delivery is key. This means every aspect of your windup and pitch – from the start of your motion to the moment the ball leaves your hand – should look identical whether you’re throwing a fastball or a changeup. The consistency in delivery makes it incredibly difficult for batters to anticipate the changeup based on your movements. A major part of achieving this is muscle memory, which you can build through repetitive practice. Focus on maintaining the same tempo, leg kick, arm angle, and follow-through for both pitches. Video analysis can be a useful tool in this process; record your pitching sessions and compare the mechanics of your fastball and changeup side-by-side. Look for any discrepancies in your delivery and work to eliminate them. Remember, the smallest details could provide a hint to experienced batters, so aim for seamless consistency in every pitch.

Step 5: Develop Pitch Control

Developing pitch control is a vital step in mastering the changeup. This entails the ability to accurately place your pitch in different areas of the strike zone, according to the game situation and the batter’s weaknesses. Achieving precise control over your changeup involves a combination of factors including grip strength, finger placement, wrist action, and overall pitching mechanics.

To enhance your pitch control, start by focusing on your grip. Experiment with slight adjustments to find the most comfortable and effective grip that allows you to manipulate the ball’s trajectory. Next, concentrate on your release point. Releasing the ball consistently at the same point in your delivery is crucial for controlling the pitch’s direction and depth. Additionally, practicing different types of changeups, such as the circle change or palm ball, can provide you with options that vary in speed and movement, making it harder for batters to predict and hit.

Regular bullpen sessions dedicated to pitch control can significantly improve your command over the changeup. Target specific zones within the strike box and aim to hit those targets consistently. Using tools like pitching targets or having a catcher set up in various positions can be particularly effective in honing your accuracy. Also, paying close attention to feedback from your body, the ball’s flight path, and the catcher’s mitt can give you valuable insights into making necessary adjustments for improving your control. Ultimately, consistent practice, coupled with a meticulous focus on mechanics and delivery, will solidify your changeup as a powerful and reliable pitch in your arsenal.

Step 6: Incorporate It into Your Pitching Strategy

Mastering the changeup is only one aspect of becoming a successful pitcher. To effectively incorporate it into your pitching strategy, you need a well-thought-out plan that keeps hitters off balance and maximizes your pitching strengths. Begin by understanding the scenarios where a changeup would be most effective. This pitch is especially useful in count situations where the batter is expecting a fastball. By throwing a changeup, you exploit the batter’s timing, increasing the chance of inducing a swing and miss or a weak contact.

Additionally, vary your pitch selection and location. Use the changeup in combination with your fastball and other breaking pitches to create a perplexing mix that makes it difficult for hitters to predict what’s coming next. It’s crucial not just to throw a changeup, but to throw it with purpose. Decide on your pitch sequences based on the hitters’ weaknesses and tendencies that you’ve observed or that have been provided by your catcher or coaching staff.

Regularly analyzing the outcomes when you use your changeup during games can provide insights into when it’s most effective or if certain batters are picking up on it easily. Make adjustments based on this analysis, always looking to refine your approach to keep batters guessing.

Incorporating the changeup effectively into your pitching strategy requires not only physical skill and technique but also a deep understanding of the mental side of pitching. It’s about outsmarting the batter, and the changeup, when used wisely, can be a critical weapon in doing so. Remember, the overarching goal is to create a diverse and unpredictable pitch portfolio that makes you a formidable opponent on the mound.


Mastering the changeup is a significant milestone in a pitcher’s development, acting as a powerful tool to enhance their performance on the mound. By effectively incorporating it into their pitching arsenal, pitchers can disrupt batters’ timing and impose uncertainty, thereby elevating their game. It requires a blend of physical technique, strategic thinking, and mental toughness, underpinned by continuous practice, analysis, and refinement. Pitchers who dedicate themselves to mastering this pitch, alongside their fastball and breaking balls, will find themselves better equipped to face the challenges posed by skilled batters. Remember, the art of pitching is as much about deception and strategy as it is about power and speed. Therefore, nurture the changeup with intention and intelligence, for it may very well be the key to unlocking your full potential on the mound.

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James Arnold
I'm James, and I live in Stanislaus County, California. I'm playing Baseball for many years, and I love this sport so much that I also encourage my kids (Danny and Sara) to play Baseball & Softball.