I can remember those days when I was young and the starting pitcher for my Little League team: That feeling of responsibility that I felt as the umpire bellowed, “Batter Up!” as I stood on the pitchers mound ready to begin the ball game.
As I warmed up, I would look around at the infielders and outfielders throwing baseballs and playing pepper with each other and I would feel that same nervous sensation. “Oh Boy, It’s all on me. I better get this ball over the plate.”
You see, I had a pretty decent fastball and I could throw a fairly “nasty” slider when it was in the strike zone. The problem, though, was my control. It was terrible.
There were times when I would feel like I was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon as I kept throwing heaters all over the place and the opposing team was doing their version of a Conga Line around the bases.
The frustration would set in after each “Ball Four!” call by the umpire. Leaving me muttering to myself and wishing I could shrink and find an anthill somewhere to crawl in and hide. Unfortunately for me, the only hill available was the pitchers mound that I was standing on and my whole team was looking at with sheer desperation.
A starting pitcher for a baseball team is arguably the most responsible position that any youngster can play in any sport.
No other position leaves you as vulnerable; where you can lose the whole game before anyone else on your team has even made a play; that feeling of leaving your teammates powerless and quite angry as they watch the opposing team walk their way around the bases while runs are added up.
It is essential for a pitcher to be able to control his pitches. The ability to throw your pitches for strikes will lead to greater confidence, less anxiety, and that favorite compliment of all pitchers: the young hurler showing poise on the mound.
Proper mechanics are certainly a big part of the equation which should also be studied. The ability to repeat the same motion each time one throws a pitch is of the utmost importance. Whether that pitch is a fastball, curve, slider or change-up. A pitcher must be able to execute his pitches. Especially when there are two strikes on a batter. This is the optimal time for a pitcher to use his “nasty” pitch.
Once a pitcher leaves himself the maximum wiggle room, by getting ahead of the count 0-2, which means you started out by getting two strikes on the batter, they are in an infinitely more commanding position.
Now you can throw that nasty slider or fastball with ultra conviction knowing you have 4 more chances in front of you before you get to ball four.
The key is to be able to get yourself in that 0-2 position. While you may have proper mechanics you will never get there without control. Control is the ability to throw strikes consistently or Pitchers Heaven!
I thought I would never get there and it would always be a struggle for me out there on the pitchers mound.
One day, while I was reading the N.Y. Daily News, I came across an article by Pat Zachry, a starting pitcher for the N.Y. Mets.
He was an older pitcher who used to win with a high octane fastball but now claimed to be even better because he had learned a new pitch the Circle Change. His record since learning the Circle Change was impressive and the article had diagrams which showed how to throw the pitch.
The Circle Change is an easy pitch to emulate. Instead of using your thumb, second finger ,and middle finger which you use to throw a fastball: You use your thumb, and last two fingers to grip the ball, excluding your second and third fingers and throw it the same exact way as you would throw your fastball. Your arm motion and pitching mechanics are the exactly the same, also.
This pitch is incredibly easy to control!
I was able to learn it quickly and consistently get it over the plate for strikes and get ahead of batters. Plus, because your pitching mechanics and arm motion don’t change, it will naturally fool the batter, who will think you are throwing him a fastball.
My Circle Change also had a late dip on it which caused the batters to hit a lot of choppers back to me on the mound. I would catch the slow moving ground balls easily and throw out the runners at first base. Additionally, I was getting ahead of the batters in the strike count by starting out my first two pitches with Circle Changes.
Once ahead, I could “put them away ” with a fastball or slider!
Your fastball will look much faster to a batter once they have been exposed to a Circle Change pitch.
I became way more relaxed almost dare I say “poised”after mastering the Circle Change. I could use my fastball and slider to get the out once ahead in the count.
This one pitch made me way more effective as a Little League pitcher. I started to get picked for All-Star teams after I learned the Circle Change.
I was the man, now!
The Circle Change also has the added benefit of putting much less stress on a youngster”s arm which will prevent injuries.
There have been countless cases of young “phenoms” who “blew out” their arms before they were out of High School.
Throwing a steady diet of fastballs and curve balls can take a dangerous toll on a youngsters arm.
For parents, this fact alone is all that is necessary to show how beneficial this pitch, the Circle Change, can be to youngsters. The added benefit is they will exhibit a much greater propensity for throwing strikes while making their other pitches seem even nastier.
Growing up a Yankee fan it is quite ironic that I learned this “game changing” pitch from an ex-Met player named Pat Zachry.
It made me a much better pitcher and baseball player and will do the same for any young pitcher. I highly recommend all fathers to teach their kids this pitch.
They will have greater control of their pitches, much more effectiveness which will in turn raise their confidence and poise on the mound while simultaneously protecting their young arms from serious injury.
Once your child has mastered the Circle Change they will always be itching for the umpire to say the words, “Batter Up!”