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How to Grip a Circle Change Up

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Top View
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Side View
Pitch Location and Movement for Different Grips as viewed by the hitter
Hitter's View
Right Handed Pitcher
  • 5/08 - Initial page


This grip is also called a change up or an off-speed pitch.

Position the Ball

2 seam direction Turn the ball where the seams run the direction of your fingers and the closed end of the horseshoe (the "U") is away from your palm.

Position your fingers

Place your middle finger and thumb on the seam. Roll your index finger into a circle and touch your thumb. Make sure your ring finger is also on a seam next to your middle finger.

Position your thumb

Place your thumb directly under the lower seam.

Exert Pressure

Squeeze the ball with your thumb pushing against your middle finger and ring fingers.

Delivery and Release

This pitch is delivered and released to appear just like a fastball.

Your hand will pronate (thumb down, inward, clockwise LH, counterclockwise RH) slightly.

This is the same as a four seam fastball, and the opposite rotation of a curveball.

Compared to fastball grip

This pitch is 7 to 15 mph slower than a fastball. Since the index finger is not on a seam, the pitcher imparts less spin on the ball at release.

What the hitter sees

This ball looks like a fastball to the hitter.

The seams should be visibly rotating slowly from the bottom to top.

Alternate grip

Position the ball just like a four seam fastball and grip it as above. (Be aware that this changeup may be slightly faster and may present a different spin to the hitter)

Turn the ball where the horseshoes (the "U") run sideways. The closed part of the horseshoe points to your thumb and the open part points to the pinky.

Hold the ball as above (Place your middle and ring fingers over the cross seam. Circle your index finger and touch your thumb.)

Place your thumb directly under the ball on the smooth part of the baseball (no seam).

When to throw

This is alternated with the fastball in order to upset the timing of the hitter. Try to throw it low in the strike zone.

What it does (movement)

The ball will move down and slightly to the right for a right handed pitcher. For a left hand pitcher, it moves down and slightly to the left.

The ball creates a slow spin and rotates from bottom-to-top as viewed by the hitter.

Reaction Time

The hitter has roughly 0.45 seconds to hit this pitch.

Typical Speed

This pitch is roughly the same speed as other changeups and is generally 10-15 mph slower than a fastball.

10 and under 30-40 mph
11-12 40-50 mph
13-14 45-65 mph
High School 65-75 mph
College/ Pro 70-85 mph

The average speed of a changeup in the majors is 82 mph.

The ball will typically slow down 8-10 mph by the time it reaches the front of the plate. (Note that your home radar gun may stop reading well before the ball reaches the plate because the hitter is in the way.)

Catcher's Sign

Usually the catcher and the pitch caller use four fingers (or wiggle the fingers) to call a changeup.

Great Circle Changeup Pitchers

Tom Glavine, Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez are current masters of the circle changeup.

Former players throwing the circle change include Nolan Ryan and many others.