Knuckleball is well-known for being the hardest pitch in baseball for a batter. The main reason behind it is that the ball moves in several directions once it is released from the hands of a pitcher. However, throwing a knuckleball is also quite challenging for a pitcher. That’s why not a lot of pitchers regularly throw it, despite the pitch being so deceptive. It is said that in Major League Baseball, there are only two known knuckleball throwers: Boston Red Sox and Steve Wright. Needless to say, it is truly an art to throw a knuckleball.
In addition to being challenging to throw, the knuckleball is also pretty hard to control and catch for the catcher. In case it is not thrown correctly, it can be easier than batting practice for a good hitter. Despite it gaining popularity for being challenging, you can try your best to learn to throw a knuckleball. We have included some methods which you can try and practice to up your game. As they say, practice makes a man perfect. In this way, consistency and practice will help you take your pitch to a whole new level.
Tips to Throw a Knuckleball:
Although you would need a normal arm action to throw a knuckleball, your wrist should remain stiff until the ball completely leaves your hand. Once it is thrown well with a minimum spin, the ball should feel like slipping out of the palm. Don’t try to push the knuckleball using your fingers. Rather, it should feel like shooting out as the ball leaves the fingers.
Check out these tips in order to throw a better knuckleball:
- Trust your grip and throw the ball hard
- Allow the baseball to slip out of the palm as if it were dipped in oil
- Make sure to keep your wrist stiff while throwing the ball
- Try keeping the baseball logo facing the catcher the whole time.
Grip the Baseball:
One of the most important things to learn is how to use the right grip for the right pitch. Whether it’s about curveball, fastball, or knuckleball, one must ensure accurate grasping of the ball before throwing. There are numerous ways you can grip the ball in order to throw a knuckleball. Read each of the mentioned ways to see which one would suit you most.
This technique requires your index and middle fingers. Arch both of these fingers in a way that their tips face down. Next, try grabbing the ball in a way that both fingers that you put down come right beneath the baseball’s horseshoe seam. Every baseball features four separate horseshoes; you can opt for any of them.
Your two fingernails should be dug into the seam’s middle behind the horseshoe. Make sure to exert sufficient pressure to grasp the ball firmly. However, don’t exert too much pressure that your fingertips get injured or your fingernails get chipped. Then, use your ring finger and the thumb on the ball’s opposite side to keep it stabilized.
If you are aiming to achieve a floating and slower knuckleball, then you should go for a two-knuckleball ball grip. Since you’d be using lesser knuckles for pushing the ball forward, its movement will be slower, and the pitch’s pace will be reduced.
The three-Knuckle grip requires you to grip your index and middle fingers in a way that your tips face down. Then, try grabbing the ball and keeping the fingers you put down beneath the horseshoe seam. In addition, the three fingernails should be digging into the seams’ middle behind the horseshoe. Exert sufficient pressure to grasp the ball firmly. Use your pinky finger and thumb to stabilize your baseball on opposite sides.
For a pitcher, the three-knuckleball grip is considered a more intermediate grip which can reduce stability. Nevertheless, baseball can be a lot more difficult to hit for the player due to its quicker and more erratic movement. Similar to the above-mentioned two-knuckle grip, the fingernails rest behind the ball’s seam in the leather. You may feel like this grip is somewhat less stable compared to the two-knuckle grip, but the ball will be pitched quicker and farther, thereby giving you an ultimate advantage.
The four-knuckle grip is known to be the grip for professionals. However, you can also learn to use this grip in your game, given that you practice as much as needed. This grip offers the most erratic movement mid-air along with the fastest pace as four fingers work together to push the baseball.
You can use the four-knuckle grip by placing all four fingernails firmly in the leather behind your baseball’s seam. Remember not to press too hard or hurt the throwing arm while using the four-knuckle grip. Your thumb should be kept off to the ball’s side, slightly underneath it. In order to control the ball well, you may need to grip harder because this is the only stability point in the four-knuckle grip.
Other than that, if you want to prevent excessive spin,
Execute the Pitch:
To execute the pitch correctly, try going through the windup using a normal fastball motion until you reach the release point. The knuckleball is supposed to look just like a fastball until it’s revealed by the pitcher before releasing the ball. Avoid altering the arm slot or anything else because it may lead to reduced chances of the knuckleball, resulting in the knuckle being a soft lob.
Keep the Wrist Up:
Keeping your wrist up is important to get a minimal amount of spin. When players throw a fastball, they usually move their wrists down while releasing the ball. As a result, steady spin is created on their baseballs, leading them to travel more or less straight. However, when it comes to throwing a knuckleball, your aim is to do the opposite because you don’t want to spin.
While releasing the ball, extend out the fingertips to minimize spin. Moreover, try letting your knuckles stay on your hand’s topmost point while releasing the ball. Keeping the knuckles at your hand’s top will make sure that the ball spins less while being released.
As you get ready to release the ball, release the thumb from the grip to allow it to slip through the hands. Then follow through and end in such a way that you would throw any other pitch. Another essential part to focus on is not snapping the wrist while throwing. Try keeping the wrist as stiff as you possibly can. Avoid thinking of throwing it to the plate. Instead, think of pushing the knuckleball toward home plate using your usual motion. While releasing the pitch, try extending the fingers toward the home plate straight out.
Tips to Master the Knuckleball:
Just like any other skill, learning knuckleball takes time. Don’t feel disheartened if you find yourself failing at first because it will happen, most likely. It’s not about following the right thing, either. Even when you follow every step perfectly, you’ll need some time to master the skill and become a pro at it. For any tips to master this skill, read the below-mentioned tips. These tips can be quite effective and helpful for you to improve your game.
So, read them and see if any of these tips seem suitable to try.
Practice While Playing:
When you are on the field with your fellow team members, suggest playing catch together to practice the throw. Try throwing the knuckleball and practicing different grips and arm movements as you play with others. In this way, you can utilize your time playing catch with friends (which is a pretty fun activity itself) and make it more productive by practicing your knuckleball tips at the same time.
Throw the Knuckleball Upward:
If you don’t have friends available to play catch with you, there is another way of practicing even alone. All you need to do is lay down on the ground flat, and just like you’d throw the knuckleball forward, now throw it upwards. In order to push the ball upward with the help of your fingertips, use your fingertips, stretch the knuckles, and release your thumb’s grip. Keep practicing this until you master it.
Hot Potato Drill:
Have you ever heard of the game hot potato? Well, this drill is quite like that game. All you need to make sure of is that you use the knuckleball grip to practice this drill. The fine combination of a hot potato drill and a knuckleball grip will make sure that you push away and grip the ball swiftly.
To conclude, knuckleballs are well-known for being challenging, yet some pitchers have rejuvenated their careers by mastering the throw. That’s one of the reasons why it is a fan favorite. However, if you practice, remain consistent, and choose the right strategy, you can also improve your knuckleball. We hope that the above-mentioned ways helped you in learning how to throw a knuckleball for the next big game.