The knuckleball is one of the most difficult pitches to hit in baseball, but with these five steps, you will be able to make contact.
In this article, we’ll cover how the 5 steps to hitting a knuckleball in baseball are done.
Steps to Hitting a Knuckleball in Baseball
A knuckleball or knuckler is a type of baseball pitch that attempts to minimize the spin of the ball in flight, resulting in an erratic, unpredictable motion. When the airflow over a seam of the ball changes from laminar to turbulent, the ball’s flow changes from smooth to rough.
The knuckleball is an extremely rare pitch, and the ones who use it in games generally only do so in competitive games. A knuckleball aims to take nearly all of the spin-off the baseball, causing it to flutter erratically as it travels toward home plate.
1. How a Knuckleball Works in Baseball
The Knuckleball’s Zigzag Physics – A knuckleball is a type of pitch that is unique in that the spin of the ball is reduced, resulting in an unpredictable zigzag path.
- The knuckleball is a pitch that takes all the spin off the baseball, causing it to flutter erratically as it travels toward home plate.
- Unlike a curveball, which is thrown at approximately the same speed as a fastball, a knuckleball isn’t particularly fast. As a result, it’s even more difficult to hit one. They average 50 to 70 mph, which is considerably slower than the typical major league fastball at 85+ mph.
- The erratic nature of a knuckleball makes it difficult to hit, catch and throw. It appears to zip through the air without spin and then break suddenly in any direction. This behavior is aided by the ball’s seams.
Because the pitch may travel at 60 mph to per7aps 70 mph, giving it a “gentle” release puts far less strain on an arm than throwing 90 mph or more. The knuckleball is a pitch that’s notorious for being difficult to execute. It can revitalize a pitcher’s career.
2. Hold the Batt the Proper Way
The bat’s handle should be in your fingertips, not in your palms. If you’re gripping the bat correctly, the second knuckles on your top hand should align down the bat with the first knuckles on your bottom hand.
- Wrap your index finger around the bat to keep it separate from the rest of the three fingers. The knuckles on your bottom hand’s fingers should point upward and toward the bat barrel.
- A 4-seam grip is the best hold for a solid, straight throw. This is done by holding your throwing hand’s middle and index fingers perpendicular to the baseball seams.
- Keep your bat as light as possible in your hands. As the swing goes on, your grip will naturally tighten up until contact, where the bat grip is at its greatest.
The main goal of this posture is to keep your upper body as relaxed as possible, and bear in mind that the more relaxed you are before a forceful action, the stronger it will be.
3. Proper Feet and Legs Positioning
To have more on your back leg than your front, shift your weight slightly to the rear. Your feet should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and your knees should have some flexibility.
- A proper batting stance is essential for any skilled hitter. Even if a hitter is extremely skilled, he won’t be able to have effective plate appearances if he doesn’t have a solid stance.
- When you swing a bat, it’s as if you’re walking. That’s precisely what you’ll do when you hit. You want to get into a comfortable position, bend your knees a bit so you may maintain your posture. You’d be just fine if you walked in this posture. To improve your balance and stance, keep both of your eyes parallel to the ground.
- Batters lift their legs for momentum. The technique is the same as in a basic walk, with the exception that when the batter lifts his front leg, he shifts his hips and all of his momenta goes forward. The batter’s head should be in a more upright position, as shown here. This allows the batter to use all of his energy to make contact with the ball.
The batter’s front heel should be off the ground and his back knee bent. This gives him the power to swing, as well as the flexibility to adjust if he needs to. He’ll also have more control over the bat this way. If a batter keeps his foot on the ground, it becomes harder for him to move around and hit pitches that are out of his range.
4. Know Where the Knuckleball is Headed
A knuckleball is hard to judge, so you should take some time before the game to get a feel for how it moves. If you can figure out where it’s going, then your job will be much easier.
- The first thing that batters should do when they’re up at bat against a knuckleball pitcher is pick one side of the plate to aim for. You can’t hit a knuckleball if you’re swinging at it in the air.
- If you see that the pitcher is throwing more pitches on one side of the plate, then move your batting stance over to that side. That will give you a better chance of making contact with the ball.
- Don’t try to hit a knuckleball that’s going straight up. You’ll have more luck if you wait until the ball has started moving and then swing at it. It will change directions, so get ready for it when you see which way it’s heading!
- The pitch changes direction multiple times in midair since there is no rotation on the ball from the pitcher’s hand. This is the reason why batters should only hit a knuckleball that is already in motion.
Batted balls off of knuckleballs are more likely to be singles than home runs, so don’t get too discouraged if you don’t knock it out of the park. Just make sure you put the ball in play and give yourself a chance to get on base.
5. Master the Swing Timing
Since a knuckleball moves so slowly, you’ll have plenty of time to make your swing. However, that doesn’t mean you can take your time getting ready for the pitch.
- The best way to hit a knuckleball is to swing at it as soon as possible after you see it leave the pitcher’s hand. If you wait too long, the ball will have already changed directions and it’ll be harder to make contact.
- There’s no need to rush your swing, but you also don’t want to wait too long and give the pitcher a chance to adjust. Just try to time it so that you’re in the right position when the ball arrives at home plate.
- If you time your swing properly, it’s much easier to make contact with the ball. You don’t have to worry about changing directions or adjusting once you see where the pitch is headed.
- The best way for batters to hit a knuckleball is by swinging at it as soon as they can after its release from the pitcher’s hand. This way, you’ll have more time to adjust and make contact with the ball.
There’s no need to rush your swing or wait too long before swinging at it – just try to get in position as soon as possible after it leaves his hand!
More Information About Knuckleball in Baseball
Toad Ramsey, born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a former bricklayer, is credited with inventing the knuckleball pitch. He had damaged the tendon in his pitching hand’s index finger with a shovel. That is why, as a result of the change in arm slot and release point, Ramsey’s pitches had a natural knuckleball motion.
The knuckleball is so-named because the typical grip utilized to throw the pitch, with the knuckles either on or just above the ball while the fingernails dig into the surface, gives it its distinctive character. The knuckleball is thrown with little effort, and as a result, it has the least arm strain of all pitchers.
- Jannis, a right-handed knuckleballer who was 33 years old, made his Major League Baseball debut for the Baltimore Orioles. Jannis was taken by the Rays in the 44th round of the 2010 draft and has since used his knuckleball to distinguish himself from other relievers.
- In 2012, Dickey became the first knuckleballer to receive the Cy Young Award. Phil Niekro is the only knuckleball pitcher to reach 300+ victories. Phil Niekro is unquestionably the king of knuckleball pitchers. Phil Niekro’s 318 victories put him 16th all-time in the majors, and his 121 victories after turning 40 are an MLB record.
- The speed of R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball is due to his fast delivery, which is why he’s the fastest. He throws several of his knuckleballs (79 mph or more) faster than Tim Wakefield ever did with his fastball (74 mph career average). Unusually, the most powerful knuckleball thrower of his time has succeeded, but it makes sense.
- As of 2019, Steve Wright of the Boston Red Sox is the only current active knuckleballer in the MLB, having been released from his contract with the team.
The majority of knuckleballers end up throwing the pitch exclusively, with only a few fastballs, curves, or sliders mixed in. They say they must have a feel for the pitch, which they must use all of the time. That implies that if the “feel” of a game is off, they can get shelled.
The knuckleball has gone extinct in the major leagues, like contact hitters and paper tickets.
Hitting a Knuckleball is a hard thing to do. In this article, you have learned the best way for a hitter to hit a knuckleball and how it is done correctly. Thus, if you are ever in a game and the pitcher throws a knuckleball, you will be able to hit it by mastering the 5 steps above.