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Any great pitcher knows that you need to have a variety of pitches in your tool belt. A sinker is one of the many pitches you can learn to keep the batter guessing. Also known as the sinking fastball, this pitch is an excellent choice for when you want to deceive the batter. The sinker drops 6 inches or more at a moment’s notice just as it is approaching the batter. By the end of this brief article, you’ll learn how to throw a sinker that you can use in your pitching repertoire.
How to Throw a Sinker
When learning how to throw a sinker, you must be mindful of a few things. The most important factors in successfully executing this pitch are finger placement, keeping your grip firm, and knowing where you want to aim the pitch. Choose a sinker when you want to trick your batter into thinking the ball is coming in about waist-level, but have it make a last-second change towards the ground. This type of pitch tends to be difficult to make solid contact with due to its unpredictable nature.
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Some pitchers learn how to throw a sinker to avoid the need to change pitching speeds. Of course, as a pitcher, your job is to keep the batter on their toes. You never want to let them know what pitch is coming next. A sinker is an excellent choice when you’re looking for an easy way to strike the batter out. Also, if your batter does happen to make contact, it will most likely be a weak hit so your fielders can get the runner out at the base. With either outcome, this pitch is a great way to set your team up for success.
Review the Basics
Now that we know why we want to learn how to throw a sinker, let’s get into the step-by-step instructions. Learning how to throw a sinker is one of the many ways you can become an unstoppable pitcher.
The first step is to get your pitching stance perfect. You need to have this foundation for any pitch, simple or complex. It’s a good idea to practice your stance and get comfortable with this basic element so you can really focus on learning the following steps. This is also the time when you’ll subtly communicate with your catcher. Don’t make it obvious which pitch you’re choosing.
Once you’ve perfected your stance, you can move on to where you’re focusing the pitch. The trick with a sinker is that the pitch looks like it’s easy for the batter to make contact with until the last moment. For this reason, we will direct our focus initially to the batter’s belt or waist height. This provides you with enough space to give the pitch that sinking effect.
Your windup is crucial to getting this pitch perfected. A windup is something, like the stance, that is universal to any pitches you’ll learn. The reason the windup matters so much is that this is where a lot of your power is generated. Another time when the pitch’s speed and power are generated is just before the release of the ball. As you pivot and turn your chest towards the batter, you’ll want to follow through with your upper body while maintaining your focus on where you want the ball to go.
The Finer Details
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Let’s take a moment to break down the finer details of how to throw a sinker. The key to this pitch is the placement of your fingers on the seams of the ball. The index finger should be placed along the closest seam, and your middle finger along the second seam. This is a two-seam pitch with a lot of similarities to a fastball. Your grip needs to be firm so you can maintain control of the ball. The next step is to move your wrist in a slightly downward direction just before releasing the pitch.
Now, add a little pressure with your middle finger. Make sure the ball is being released along your middle finger, as this is what differentiates this pitch from a typical fastball. The last part of this pitch is the slight turning of the palm towards your right side. This applies only if you are a right-handed pitcher. If you are a lefty, the direction will be the opposite. These last two pieces create the “sinking” motion of this unique pitch.
Finally, let’s discuss the arc that your arm travels to give the ball the proper trajectory. This pitch is best when done with an almost overhead motion. This motion works in tandem with how you release the ball to give the pitch the signature sinking movement at the last moment. Maintain awareness of how your arm and shoulder feel when learning this pitch. In the beginning, you may feel some soreness or a bit of pain. If this occurs, be sure to give your arm proper rest for a couple of days before trying again.
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As with any pitch, following through is everything. While there might seem to be a lot to remember when practicing this pitch, it really can be broken down into a few simple, fluid motions. Everything about your pitch, from windup to release, should be smooth and not feel disconnected at any point. Once you’ve released the pitch, position yourself as if the batter will make contact with the ball. While it is preferred to strike the batter out, you should always be prepared to field the ball immediately.
You’ll want to use this deceptive pitch when your batter isn’t expecting it. It’s a good idea to get to know the opposing team and pay close attention to what the batter likes to hit. If you see that the batter typically makes contact with a high pitch, a sinking fastball is an excellent choice. This pitch is a great addition for an experienced pitcher who has all the foundations and basic pitches solidified. Now it’s time for you to get out there and practice these steps! With this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll know how to throw a sinker in practically no time at all.