Changeups are one of the best tools created to keep hitters off balance. When people come to us for changeup lessons most of the parents and new pitchers have no clue what it is. If you have a dominating changeup you can be very successful with just two or three pitches alone.
The changeup is referred to as the “great equalizer” because you can keep the batter on their toes at all times even if you’re not throwing at top speeds. Because it’s an “equalizer” it takes the advantage away from the hitter or actually gives you the advantage. If a hitter can’t tell what you’re throwing, they can’t sit on any of the pitches you throw.
I had great success with the backhand changeup in my own career and so have many of our students. Lacey Waldrop, Rita Lynn’s top student and NCAA Player of the Year in 2014 built her career on a devastating backhand changeup.
Below are the 5 most common questions we get when pitchers begin learning this pitch.
Question #1: What is a changeup?
The changeup is a deceptively slow pitch intended to throw off the batter’s timing. Dominating changeups are deceptive because they look exactly like a fastball.
My favorite type is by far the backhand. The backhand change is deadliest when it has tight backspin and super fast arm speed. Back spin is the exact opposite spin of a fastball that has top spin. Hitters can’t really time the fastball or changeup when the backhand is thrown correctly because they look so similar.
Changeups should be around 25-35% slower than fastball speed but the arm speed should stay the same as the fastball. Notice in the video below the difference between Lacey Waldop’s first and last pitches. The last pitch is Lacey’s killer changeup.
Question #2: When can you begin learning a changeup?
Once your mechanics are pretty clean and you’re throwing a decent speed for your age range you can begin learning. Pitchers are usually ready around the end of the first year of pitching. Learning the change-up earlier is preferred because it takes a while to get the feel of it.
Question #3: How much do I need to practice the change-up?
If you’re pitching 4-5 days a week you would want to focus 20-25% of your practice on the changeup. I also recommend holding a Changeup Day once a week to help you focus on learning this pitch.
Question #4: How long will it take to learn?
The changeup is a very practice specific pitch. If you put work into it you could learn it faster than others. I would say it generally takes a pitcher 3-6 months to feel relatively comfortable throwing changeups. It could possibly take a little longer for the changeup to be completely game ready.
Question #5: Why is having a changeup so important?
The first thing you need to have as a young pitcher is velocity. The second thing is a change of speed. Developing a dominating changeup can turn an average pitcher into a great pitcher. The changeup is ALWAYS in the back of the hitters mind and because of that it messes up their timing on all the pitches you throw.
If your mechanics are clean and you’re ready to start learning the backhand change-up you can begin at home with a self-flip using the spinner. I recommend using a spinner daily to better understand the mechanics.
How to grip the spinner:
use the two finger grip where your pointer and middle fingers are on the top of the spinner and your thumb on the other side. This grip will show you if the direction of spin is correct.
How to do a changeup self-flip:
Flip the spinner so that your wrist/hand pops to the front and finger tips RIP back on the seams. Catch the spinner in your pitching hand. Make sure the spinner is spinning completely vertical, this way you know it came straight out of the back of your hand.
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