The knuckleball is one of the most difficult for pitches to master. It takes an incredible amount of feel and even more patience. While it is very fun, most pitchers choose to go with a different pitch fairly early on because it takes way too long for them to master.
Here, we will talk about purely the basics of the knuckleball in baseball and how to go about mastering it. If you’re looking for a drill that allows pitchers to improve their control and feel for pitching, look no further!
The Knuckleball in Baseball
Toad Ramsey was the one who invented the knuckleball pitch. Because of a bad accident (on his fingers while at work as a bricklayer), Ramsey only discovered the knuckleball. He was forced to hold the ball with his fingertips. Two distinct drop-balls resulted as a consequence.
Sure, it wasn’t quite a knuckleball in the eyes of 19th-century sportswriters, and it may not have looked all that wonderful to them, but it was still a knuckler. It was a highly effective pitch that batters were having hard time hitting the baseball.
A knuckleball is a difficult pitch to come by, and the pitchers that throw it during games tend to use it exclusively. The goal of a knuckleball is to remove as much spin from the baseball as possible, causing it to flutter erratically on its way to the plate.
When a seam of the ball is exposed to air flow, it causes the ball’s laminar to turbulent transition.
The knuckleball’s name comes from the way pitchers typically hold it in their hand, with the knuckles either on top of or just above the ball while the nails dig into the surface. The knuckleballer’s arm is exposed to less strain than that of other pitchers since the pitch is delivered with ease.
Steps in Throwing the Knuckleball
There are a couple of different ways to throw a knuckleball.
It may also vary from pitcher to pitcher, depending on which grip they find most comfortable. Before we discuss the mechanics of throwing the knuckleball, there are some main points that you must understand about this pitch.
- As with any type of pitching it is important to have proper balance and a fluid delivery. Throwing a knuckleball is no different, but it requires more attention to detail than most pitches, because if you do not have proper balance or a consistent release point the pitch will be ineffective.
- It is also important to understand how the pitch works before beginning this process. Knuckleballs are thrown with NO spin on the ball at all. This means that when the pitcher lets go of the ball there is no rotation on the ball, which makes it flutter in flight.
- Throwing a knuckleball also requires practice, so do not get discouraged if you are not throwing them perfectly right away. A few simple steps can help you improve your knuckleball.
The Steps in Throwing the Knuckleball
Step 1: Grip the ball. There are many different ways to grip a knuckleball, but it is important that you find one that works for you. The three most common grips are the two-knuckle grip, three-knuckle grip, and the four-knuckle grip.
The Two-knuckle Grip
Place your hand palm down with your pointer and middle fingers pointed straight down. Place your fingers down beneath the horseshoe seam of the baseball, then grab the ball. Each baseball has four distinct horseshoes, so any one will be fine.
- Dig your fingernails into the seams in the middle of the horseshoe. Use enough force so that the ball is well-grasped, but be cautious not to cleave your fingernail or harm your finger tip.
- With your thumb and middle finger on opposite sides of the ball, hold it still.
The Three-knuckle Grip
Extend your pointer, middle, and ring fingers so that the tips are facing down. Take hold of the ball with your fingertips just beneath the baseball’s horseshoe seam.
- Dig your fingernails into the seams between the horseshoe and the three middle nails. Use enough force so that the ball is firmly gripped with your fingertips, yet not too much to cause damage.
- Using your thumb and pinky finger on opposing sides of the ball, keep the ball stable.
The Four-knuckle Grip
Arch your middle, ring, and little fingers to make the tips face down. Grab the ball so that your fingertips are beneath the baseball’s horseshoe seam.
- Dig your four fingernails into the center of the seams behind the horseshoe. Use enough force so that the ball is well clasped with your fingertips, but not too much to cause injury.
- Keep your thumb on the side of the ball, slightly below it. This is your lone point of stability, so you may need to grip harder to maintain control of the ball.
Step 2: Work on your arm movement for the knuckleball pitch.
You must throw it with exactly the same arm movement you would use for a fastball. When it comes to throwing a knuckleball in its true form, you’ll have to work on your arm movement and angling. The arm movement of your wrist and the swing of the arm is very crucial in this step.
How to Swing Your Arm for a Knuckleball?
Swinging your arm for a knuckleball pitch is simple.
Here are some quick tips on how to swing the arm in the proper manner.
- Place your fingers over the best grip possible for you. Just like when you throw a fastball, hold the ball only with your fingertips.
- Keep your elbow slightly bent and rotate your arm backward so that it touches your stomach area. This will provide you with extra momentum when you swing your arm.
- Extend the arm forward and release the pitch with a flick of your wrist. Follow through in such a manner that your fingers point in the direction of second base, just like when you throw a fastball.
- Keep feet shoulder width apart. Stand with feet hip-width apart so as to have better balance when you pitch and direct your knuckleball to second base.
How to Move Your Wrist for a Knuckleball?
A knuckleball is all about wrist movement. You should know that the key to throwing a good knuckler lies in how you move your wrist.
Here are some quick tips on how to go about it:
- Keep your wrist loose and bent
- Pull down to your side with the tip of your middle finger digging into the ball
- You should also aim to throw it as straight as possible, almost like throwing a dart at a wall
- Do not aim for rotation, just focus on the movement of your wrist
- However, if you’re having difficulty in mastering this step, here are some drills you can practice to improve your arm movement.
How to Angle Your Wrist for Throwing Knucklers?
A knuckleball is all about angling.
If you want to throw a great knuckleball, you must know how to angle your wrist. If you don’t want to put any extra force on the pitch itself by having an angled wrist, at least have it slightly angled.
Don’t try throwing a curveball with an angled arm. That might lead to some serious problems. The usual way of pitching is to angle it at about 30 degrees.
Step 3: Executing the knuckleball pitch.
Gripping the ball is not complicated, but it is different.
With the knuckleball, you’re gripping the ball with only your fingernails and fingertips, holding the ball so that most of it rests on just two fingers – your index finger and your middle finger. If you were to hold the ball like you would a normal curve or fastball, it would spin like a curve or a fastball. The grip you place on the ball is very important, since it’s what gives the ball its spin.
Here are the steps:
- In this step, grip the ball with your knuckles to the point where they are just outside of your fingertips.
- Your pointer finger should also be on top of the ball.
- Now, place the side of your middle finger on the bottom seam of the ball and your thumb below that.
- Clench your hand so that it is stiff and firm. Make sure you are holding the ball firmly and that your hand is loose and relaxed.
Grip strength is an important predictor of pitched ball kinetic energy among young baseball players in sports. Pitchers, in particular, utilize the inherent muscles of the hand to hurl balls with various pitches in baseball.
Pointers to Master the Knuckleball
In mastering the knuckleball, the most important thing is to understand that it is just like everything else. There is a process of learning and practice involved in order to find out what works best for you. After you have a good feel for the pitch, there is no better feeling in the world. In order to get this type of satisfaction, it will take time and patience.
In gripping the ball for throwing a knuckleball, you should hold it with your fingertips so that your fingernails are digging into the ball. If you are finding that you are still having problems controlling the pitch, try taking your fingernails off of the ball. The grip is important when throwing a knuckleball because it will help the ball to rotate when thrown correctly.
The process of rotation is key when throwing a good knuckleball. You need to ensure that the ball turns over, not just with your finger placement, but also through its rotation. When the ball is rotating correctly it will give off a nice tight spiral. The rotation of the ball is important in order to throw an effective knuckleball.
The velocity behind the ball when throwing a knuckleball isn’t quite as hard as other pitches. It doesn’t require the same arm speed; it only requires a nice and smooth throwing motion. You should practice making your throw consistent, and that will help you to increase your speed without straining. When throwing the knuckleball you should aim for around sixty miles per hour, but this isn’t always going to be your average speed.
The release of the ball is critical in throwing a good knuckleball. It should be released at about knee height and it should come out from underneath your hand, not from the side. This release point might feel somewhat awkward at first but with practice you will be able to master it. In order to practice this release point, you might want to sit down on the side of your hand until you are comfortable with it.
The whole idea behind throwing a knuckleball is to be consistent and to feel comfortable with it. With that said, you need to go out and focus on making the pitch work.
After you have practiced it for several months, you should find that your knuckleball is getting better and better. There are many things to consider when throwing a good knuckleball but if you stick with the basics above, you should do just fine.
The Knuckleball Drill in Baseball
The knuckleball is a very difficult pitch to master and throw. It requires years of practice, patience and time to learn the grip, push off and follow through for a total release of the ball. Because it is so hard to master this type of pitching skill, there has been much debate over its use in baseball.
How Do You Use the Knuckleball Drill?
This is a very simple way to teach your pitcher how to grip and release this tricky pitch.
- After teaching him the proper grip, just have him stand in front of a wall.
- Make sure he can see his hand and the ball as he releases it, so the knuckleball’s unpredictable flight path is easier to track.
- To throw a knuckleball, he’ll need to hold the ball with his knuckles on top with all fingers locked tightly around it.
- He should then push off and follow through in the direction of his target with his arm.
- He’ll also want to make sure that he releases the ball at the very end of his push off.
This drill is helpful for teaching your young pitcher how to throw a knuckleball, but bear in mind that it’s still going to be tough and many pitchers will never master it.
Practice: Throw the Knuckleball Upward
Your pitcher should be able to throw the ball upward with ease.
- This is a great way to get comfortable with throwing this type of pitch before you even start trying it in games.
- Teach your pitcher how to throw the knuckleball, using his non-pitching hand against the wall like described above.
- Once he’s mastered the grip and release, he should start practicing throwing the ball upward.
- This is a strong way to show him how much easier it will be after he practices the motion enough times.
- He’ll also want to make sure his arm reaches behind his head as he releases the knuckleball.
With this drill your pitcher will soon find that throwing the knuckleball is a lot like throwing an easy, breezy pitch right up to the plate.
Practice: Hot Potato for the Knuckleball Drill
This drill makes mastering the knuckleball a little easier.
- To begin, have your pitcher stand in front of you and circle around him while he throws his best pitches.
- Practice this for a few minutes until you get the hang of it and then instruct him to throw a knuckleball instead.
- It can help if you’re wearing a baseball glove for this drill because you’ll need to catch the ball.
- It’s also important that he follow through and finish his push off when performing this drill.
This knuckleball throwing drill is simple and easy, and it will get him used to the feel of the knuckleball while allowing him to practice pitching at the same time.
Practice: Playing Catch with the Knuckleball
If your pitcher is having trouble with the knuckleball, you can try playing catch to help improve his release.
- Since it’s tricky to aim this pitch properly, he’ll need to practice aiming at specific targets. So make sure that you set up three different target points around your field. The closer they are together the better, because this will make it easier for your pitcher to aim on the right mark.
- Setting this drill up in the backyard is a great way to spend some time with your young pitcher and do some bonding at the same time.
- Place a target marker where you want the ball to land, about 10 feet from you. Make sure that you don’t hold out your hand too soon or he’ll be throwing a fastball.
- When he gets to the target, hold your glove up and have him aim for it, so his release lands right in the middle of your mitt. Have him do this again from about 15 feet away.
- Then place another marker at 20 feet out. Have him throw that ball again, repeating the same steps until you reach about 60 feet out.
- All three targets should be different distances to get your pitcher used to adjusting his release for each throw. This is very helpful when using the knuckleball technique indoors or outdoors, depending on where he’s practicing.
- Don’t forget to place some back up markers just in case he aims poorly. Then you can pick up the ball for him and have him try again until he finally hits the right mark.
This is a great drill to help increase velocity, accuracy and confidence with using this tricky pitch. The knuckleball is very hard to master, but these drills are helpful when teaching young players how to throw it.
Benefits of the Knuckleball Drill
There are many benefits to this drill, including:
Helps with throwing accuracy – This will allow your young pitcher to hit his target consistently. It’ll teach him how to push off and follow through, as well as how to concentrate on his grip and release.
Prevents injuries – Throwing a knuckleball will be less stressful on the arm since there is no ball rotation. This will help prevent any injuries and allow him to throw for years and years without pain or injury.
Teaches patience – It takes many, many years to learn how to throw a knuckleball properly. Keep in mind that even major league pitchers don’t master this skill! It can take up to 15 years for a pitcher to learn how to throw the knuckleball.
Enhances confidence – Once he’s mastered the knuckleball, you’ll see that it takes quite a bit of patience and practice. He will feel accomplished once he has thrown it successfully, which should make him feel more confident in his abilities.
Mastering the Knuckleball takes dedication, so be sure to keep your young pitcher motivated. This can be a difficult pitch to master, and it might take years of practice before he starts getting the hang of it.