How to Throw a Fastball in Baseball
The fastball is the most frequently used pitch in baseball, and for good reason. Many pitching experts would argue that a fastball with good movement and command is the best weapon in a pitcher’s arsenal.
As you might expect, the fastball typically has the most velocity of any pitch. It’s also usually the easiest to control because you’re essentially trying to throw the ball straight. There are two common variations of fastballs — the four-seamer and the two-seamer — and many pitchers use both depending on the situation. This guide introduces you to both types of fastballs and explains how to use your fastball to develop other pitches.
The four-seam fastball gets its name because, as it travels though the air, you can see all four seams rotating. To throw a four-seam fastball, start by finding the grip. Hold the baseball so that the horseshoe-shaped seams are facing sideways. Then, grip the ball with your index and middles fingers perpendicular to those seams. Your thumb should be directly underneath the ball.
Depending on the size of your hands, you may need to use three fingers to get a secure grip on the ball (this is very common for young players). It’s important to try to hold the ball as close to the ends of your fingertips as possible, while still being able to control the pitch. The further back the ball sits in your hand, the less velocity the pitch will have.
The four-seam fastball will typically follow a straight trajectory, and so, with practice, should be the first pitch you learn how to control.
The two-seam fastball is so named because, during flight, you can only see two of the baseball’s seams rotating. In order to grip a two-seamer, hold the ball so the seams form two parallel lines. Next, grip the ball with your index and middle fingers on the two seams and your thumb below the baseball.
Throw the two-seam fastball the same way you would throw a four-seamer. In most cases, however, it will be slightly slower. You may also find that you have a more difficult time throwing the two-seamer accurately. Two-seam fastballs tend to have more movement, which is to say, they usually tail a little bit to your throwing-arm side. Some pitchers prefer the two-seamer and throw it exclusively because of this added movement.
Best MLB Fastballs - 2010
Top Starting Pitchers (by average MPH)
- Ubaldo Jimenez (COL): 96.1 mph
- Justin Verlander (DET): 95.4 mph
- Josh Johnson (FLA): 94.9 mph
- David Price (TAM): 94.6 mph
- Felix Hernandez (SEA): 94.1 mph
If you learn to control it, the two-seamer can be more difficult to hit than the four-seamer, but don’t lose confidence if you struggle with it. There are a lot of pitchers who throw only one type of fastball, and the two-seamer simply comes more naturally to some than others. The most important thing is to develop at least one fastball that you feel confident in throwing for a strike in any situation.
Establish the Fastball
Once you’re able to deliver fastballs accurately with relative consistency, it will be time to work on fine-tuning pitch grips and learning how to throw a few different pitches in the strike zone. The most effective way to develop secondary pitches (such as curveballs, sliders, splitters, and especially change-ups) is to start by using your fastball delivery as a blueprint.
Best MLB Fastballs - 2010
Top Relief Pitchers (by average MPH)
- Aroldis Chapman (CIN): 99.6 mph
- Joel Zumaya (DET): 99.3 mph
- Henry Rodriguez (WAS): 98.8 mph
- Jordan Walden (LAA): 98.7 mph
- Daniel Bard (BOS): 97.9 mph
Practice your fastball until the motion becomes second nature. Once you do this, the sky is the limit because you can make any number of tweaks to your grip without affecting your mechanics. When you throw a secondary pitch, your delivery, release point, and arm speed should be the same as your fastball. That way, if you ever find yourself struggling with another pitch, you can simply return to your blueprint, re-establish the fastball, and regain your mechanics.
Some pitchers never really master a breaking ball or offspeed pitch. But if you can throw your fastball consistently for a strike, you’re guaranteed to have some success on the mound.