For pitchers looking to improve their throw, a bullpen session can be very valuable. A bullpen session is when the pitcher gets to practice their throwing technique. Each pitcher gets to practice for roughly 10 to 15 minutes.
These practice sessions usually take place in the bullpen, which is how the name “Bullpen Session” came along. During this practice session, each pitcher can place focus on pitching mechanics and ways to grip the ball. They can also test out any new pitching techniques that they are curious about.
The best time to schedule a bullpen session is in between starts. This lets the pitcher’s arm get the proper amount of rest before their next practice. It will also allow enough rest time to recover, so their pitching arm is in excellent condition for their next big game.
Bullpen sessions are a great way for pitchers to improve their technique and become all-star players. Everything a pitcher needs to know to be successful on the field is covered during bullpen sessions. They also provide a great opportunity for the coach and manager to working together with their player.
Pitchers mustn’t overwork their arm during bullpen sessions. They should only use 60 to 80 percent of their normal effort when throwing the ball. Unfortunately, some pitchers find this frustrating because they feel like they are not getting to practice at their best capabilities.
Who Can Benefit From A Bullpen Session?
Every baseball pitcher can benefit from bullpen sessions. Even the professional pitchers spend time in the bullpen to make sure their throw is in top shape. If you want to be a successful pitcher, then you always need to be open to improving your pitch.
Even if you feel like you are the best pitcher in your district and nobody throws quite like you, a bullpen session will still be very beneficial. Things like your grip and fielding techniques could always use a touch-up in practice to make sure you’re playing at your best ability.
Relievers may have a different bullpen schedule than pitchers since their practice will all depend on their schedule. It is difficult to predict when a reliever will pitch during the season. If a reliever is filling in for a lot of games throughout the season, they may not be able to squeeze in as many bullpen sessions.
What Do Players Do In A Bullpen Session?
Bullpen sessions are a great way for pitchers to explore new techniques and perfect their throwing and fielding mechanics. There are quite a few things that players go over to make sure they are ready for their next big game:
- Pitching Grip: practice throwing the ball in any direction you want it to go.
- Throwing Mechanics: send the ball to your exact target.
- Fielding Mechanics: focus on your angle and approach with your pitches.
- Pick-Off Moves: perfect the motion in your pitch during bullpen sessions.
- Mental Preparation: pitching is more of a mental game than a physical. Bullpen sessions allow the coach to give their pitcher much needed advice.
- Situational Practice: this helps pitchers practice pickoff moves while simulating what to do if there were a runner on base.
- Rapport With Catcher: practice communication with the catcher, so you guys are always on the same page during the game.
How To Make Sure A Player Is Getting The Most From Their Bullpen Session
When your team gets on the field to play a game, there are a lot of things that could potentially go wrong for the pitcher. This is why it’s very important for pitchers to take part in bullpen sessions. Having good pitching mechanics can set your pitcher up for a great game.
What is really important to focus on during bullpen sessions are arm motion and release points. These need to be repeatable, so the pitcher stays consistent. Consistency is key to becoming a successful pitcher. Putting a focus on consistency will help pitchers get the most from their game.
Since there are quite a lot of moves involved in a pitching motion, it is important to practice consistency for the player’s muscle memory. This will help them to naturally keep throwing with the same motion on the field.
Another great way to help a pitcher get the most from their bullpen session is to incorporate a changeup. This won’t throw off their consistency but will improve their game when they are up against the big competition.
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What Is A Changeup?
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For a changeup, the pitcher will throw the ball with the same motion that they normally do. The only thing that changes is the speed. Instead of throwing a fastball, they slow things down a bit. Switching from fastball to changeup can be really successful because of the speed contrast.
A changeup is a really good way to trick the batter. They will be expecting a fastball to come flying their way, but when the ball comes at them with the changeup speed, they will be thrown off. Often the batter fumbles or misses the ball completely.
This technique can only be used to fool a batter a couple of times throughout the game if you’re changing your arm’s speed for the changeup. A skilled batter will start to notice the change in your arm. For a pitcher to be really successful with a changeup they need to change their grip on the ball.
The only problem with changing the grip of the ball is that it becomes more difficult to have full control of the ball. That is why pitchers need to take advantage of bullpen sessions to work on their changeup techniques.
The 5 Best Changeup Grips To Try Next Bullpen Sessions
There are several different ways to throw a changeup. The changeup has been around for pretty much as long as the game of baseball itself has been. In the early days of the game, breaking balls were considered unfair, so many pitchers went for the changeup instead.
Changeup can cause deception for the batter if the pitcher is skilled enough. They throw the ball in the same motion they would give a fastball. Some pitchers can cause even more headaches for the player at bat by consistently switching up their speeds.
Here are 5 awesome changeup grips every pitcher should know to keep the batters on their toes:
Changeup Grip #1: Straight Change
A straight change is one of the most simplistic changeup grips. A pitcher throws a straight change in the same motion as a fastball. The only difference is where the pitcher’s fingers are placed on the ball.
For a regular fastball, the ball is held by the last joints and fingertips in a player’s hand. When it comes to the straight change, the ball is placed against the ball and the first joint of the index and middle fingers.
This changeup grip cuts down on the whip action of the pitcher’s arm which drastically slows down the speed of the ball. A straight change doesn’t require the pitcher to move too much. The ball relies mainly on velocity for a successful throw.
Once a pitcher becomes familiar with the technique of the straight change, they will be able to throw a very effective drop ball that doesn’t go all over the place.
Changeup Grip #2: Palm Ball
A palm ball is a style of changeup that is thrown at an off-speed pitch. This is a four-finger changeup that requires the player to hold the ball right in their palm, almost as those they were trying to smother the ball and keep it centered between their middle and ring fingers.
When the pitcher is holding the ball, their index and ring finger will each be on the side of the ball to hold it in balance. The thumb will be placed right below the ball.
In order to get more movement from their throw, the player should try to turn the ball over a bit at the release point. A deeper grip will create more friction on the ball for this changeup grip. Pitchers will need to make sure they are throwing with the same mechanics used when throwing a fastball for a great palm ball changeup.
The added velocity of the palm ball has made it a favorite changeup of many baseball players. It is a really good idea to practice the palm ball grip during bullpen sessions because mental preparation is key for success.
Changeup Grip #3: Forkball
The forkball is one of the lesser common changeup grips players use, but with enough practice in the bullpen, it can be very effective on the field. This changeup grip is known for its severe downward break when it is approaching the plate.
Since this is one of the more complicated grips, only players who have had a lot of practice during bullpen sessions feel comfortable using it during a game. This has to do with the torque that is involved when the pitcher snaps their wrist.
To throw a forkball, the player starts by using their index and middle fingers to hold the ball in place. They then release the pitch by the motion of snapping their wrist. This is what causes the remarkable downward movement of the ball which is very similar to a 12 to 6 curveball.
This changeup is most common among pitchers who have already exhausted their arm and are looking for an alternative to a curveball. It puts a lot less strain on their arm, so they are less likely to experience an injury during the game.
The forkball was first made common by Bullet Joe Bush, who was a professional pitcher between 1912 to1928. Since then, many players have been throwing similar variations of his changeup grip.
Changeup Grip #4: Circle Change
Circle changes are the most common changeup that pitchers of all ranks love to use. It is usually the first changeup grip that beginners use in the bullpen. It is the easiest to master, and pitchers usually find the most success using it.
Are you familiar with the Ok symbol people make with their hands? That is literally what a pitcher needs to do with their hand for the circle change. They need to make this symbol specifically with their thumb and index finger.
They then need to place the ball between their three remaining fingers and tuck it comfortably closer to the circle. This allows the player to have a good grip on the ball so they won’t be fumbled with their pitch.
When throwing the ball, it is important to use the same quick technique as they would with their fastball. The only difference is that they need to turn the ball over only slightly when throwing it to their target. Pitchers should use a motion similar to giving a thumbs down when they perform this to reduce the speed and add a fading moment.
Changeup Grip #5: Three-Finger Changeup
The three-finger changeup is another great changeup grip for beginners to practice in the bullpen, especially junior players. This is an excellent changeup grip to start out with for players who have smaller hands.
To throw an effective three-finger changeup the player needs to have their ball in the right position. The pitcher’s index, middle, and ring finger should be holding the ball in place from the top, while the pinky finger and thumb balance things from the bottom.
Some pitchers get an even better grasp of the ball by pinching their pinky towards their thumb. It helps them to get a good feel for their pitch.
Pitchers will want to focus on keeping the speed down for three-finger changeups. To maximize the friction in their throw players should hold the ball as deep in their palm as possible. This will help keep the ball under control when they throw.
One of the easiest things about mastering the three-finger changeup grip is that nothing changes from the regular fastball pitch. Pitchers will use the exact same pitching mechanics and speed.