THE RISE GRIPS
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First, because the direction of the rotation is so important, it seems only natural that the first SKILL you should develop is the ability to be able to recognize the spin on the ball. Too many times I have tried to help an "advanced" pitcher throw the rise, and she doesn't even know how the ball is rotating. Because of the position of the shoulder, it won't allow her hand to get under the ball, in the correct position, to apply the correct rotation. And then, because she is not used to looking for the direction of rotation, her automatic actions, (muscle memory ) is back on automatic, and with her focus, or lack there of, she forgets that she is supposed to be watching the rotation. All of her attention is diverted to just throwing the ball.
Because this is so important, I will repeat it. The way you release the ball has a lot to do with what direction it will spin, so the first skill to learn when trying to throw a rise, is to recognize the direction it is rotating. Every pitch. The rotation on the ball will tell you exactly what in your mechanics you need to adjust. The four major stumbling blocks are
The elbow must be the same distance from the plate as the hand just before the release. (During and after the release, the hand will pass the elbow in the follow through). If the elbow is further from the plate, the hand will turn inward (pronate) and cause the ball to spiral. Closing the shoulders will cause the elbow to go to a more comfortable position toward the rear of the circle, causing it to go further from the plate than the hand (spiral). Reaching forward with the hand is obviously going to cause the elbow to go further from the plate than the hand (spiral). Bending over will cause the elbow to go to the rear of the circle (spiral).
The spin will tell you if you are throwing the rise correctly or incorrectly. However, you must be able to be able to recognize how it is spinning before you will know. Learn to recognize the spin. If you can't see the spin MARK THE BALL with tape, or a marking pen. For beginning pitchers mark the ball with zig zag's, or random markings like your name, so no matter how it spins you will be able to tell the direction. For advanced pitchers, a stripe or mark perpendicular to the four long seams is good to be able to recognize four seam rotation.
Another problem with throwing the rise is having the ball rotate horizontally (curve). One thing that causes the ball to curve is the wrist contacting the hip, forcing the wrist to stop, the fingers to go under the ball and uncontrolably be forced around the front of the leg, toward the inside of the leg (curve). This action of the fingers puts undesirable spin on the ball, and is unstoppable no matter what you are trying to throw. In manipulating the ball with the fingers, you have to have control of what your fingers do to the ball, and when your wrist collides with your hip, your fingers are on a mission of their own, forced by a very minor, and sometimes unoticed, incorrect action.
Another thing that will cause the ball to uncontrollably curve when trying to throw a rise, is holding the ball too tight. The pressure from the thumb and opposing fingers will cause the ball to rotate on the axis caused from those two pressure points. Since the fingers are usually lower than the thumb, you will get a curve. After I have little or no luck telling the student that the fingers have to drive the ball out of hand, and away from the thumb, eliminating the thumb eliminates the problem. The grip that acomodates that is the one Ron Bolded from Arizona likes. This grip has the little finger and index finger squeezing on opposite sides of the ball. I like this way, because sometimes the girls have a hard time driving the ball away from the thumb with the fingers, and this way lessens the importance of the thumb to grip the ball. Aaaaand, the fingers become more involved in manipulating the ball.
The way I like to start a new rise ball student off is to teach them to use the two fingers (index, and middle) together, with the middle finger pushing against the long seam. This forces them to get used to the idea of using the wrist/fingers to apply spin. If your two fingers are apart for stability, you will use the index finger to apply spin. The index finger is the more coordinated of the two, but weaker. You should use the stronger middle finger to apply leverage to the ball, and placing the fingers on the ball together, will almost force this to happen. You can, through time, develop the coordination in the middle finger to be more comfortable in doing the job.
The thumb should be on the seam in opposition to the seam by the middle finger. (Will get a better Picture)
The circle rise (thumb and index finger) is a way the New Zealanders and some of the older pitchers threw a variation of it,using the index and middle finger, with the thumb close to the index finger. They call it a Power Rise, and the idea is to drive the hand, like a #1 wood in golf, through the bottom of the ball, causing the ball to go over the thumb. I have never thought this was a good idea, and have a hard time believing the ball passes over the thumb. My dad swears his did.
My favorite way to throw the rise would be the bent index finger rise. However it does come with it's own set of problems. It is hard on the nail and the skin on the tip of the finger. Depending on the strength of the nail, the nail may pull away (rip the skin) at the quick. Also the skin at the tip of the finger will first get irritated (If this happens stop and temporarily go back to the 2 finger grip). Continued use will cause a blister. You do not want a blister to form. Through time, the skin will form a callous, and will support the abuse you are applying to it. However, you have to make sure the callous does not become too thick. If this happens, it will crack and cause major pain.
If the fingernail pulls away, or the skin cracks, you can apply some Numb-sit, Anbusol, or other teething lotion found in the baby department to deaden the pain. Of course if you lick your fingers your tongue will go numb, and if you swallow your throat will go numb. It may be rather apparent why only a handful of girls like to use this grip because of the problems it will cause.
There are also variations of this grip. Duain Campi(SP) who traveled with Eddie Feigner just set tip of the index finger on the ball and it still provided some spring tension. I have got to tell you that he was one heck of a rise ball thrower.
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