(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Whether you're playing the Yankees or a local Little League squad, opposing teams will try to pick up clues about what a pitcher will throw.
The following techniques can help young pitchers disguise their pitches and maintain a competitive advantage over their opponents.
(In the following three examples, we will highlight the problem first and then cover what simple changes or efforts can be made to avoid the problems.)
Problem No.1: Pitcher Exposes the Ball Before Coming Set
Seen primarily in younger players, some pitchers show the ball before they begin their motion. In the windup, some pitchers hold the ball outside of their glove, relaxing against their plant leg. However, this problem is most common while in the stretch position.
Pitchers will hold the ball in the same position, or behind their back, fully exposing their grip on the ball to the batter, the dugout, or the first base coach.
For the offense to pick up the pitch, they attempt to recognize the grip (say a fastball), and then carefully watch to see if the pitcher makes any adjustments as he takes the ball into his glove. If they recognize that no movement is being made, or that the ball is clearly rotated on the way to the glove, their next task becomes relaying that message to the batter.
Solution: Keep it simple. Avoid this error by starting with the ball in your glove. With the ball in your glove, you can grab the ball and adjust your grip accordingly when you come set. This is true for both the windup and the stretch positions.
Problem No.2: Pitcher Obviously Adjusts Grip
Many pitchers will consistently start with a fastball grip. If the catcher calls for a fastball, they will immediately begin their windup without moving their hands at all.
Then, when an off speed pitch is called; they will rotate the ball in the glove before beginning their motion. It will quickly become noticeable to an observant offense that the pitcher is only adjusting his grip on certain pitches.
Another common motion that can tip an offense is a recognizable adjustment or motion. For example, let's look at a pitcher, set in the windup position. When a curveball is called, the pitcher will dig into his glove to get his fingers over the top of the ball. You'll see the wrist rotate and perhaps even the forearm lift ever so slightly.
If a team can detect a pattern after four or five of the same types of movement, they may be able to recognize a certain pitch.
Solution: A solution to both of these tips is to hold the ball in your glove with either a neutral grip or a random grip.