How To Throw A Knuckleball
The knuckleball is a difficult pitch to master, but here you will learn how throw to a knuckleball properly. The knuckleball, or just the "knuckler," has been around baseball for about 100 years, and in that time, only about 100 pitchers have used the knuckler as their primary out-pitch. That alone should tell you how hard it is to effectively throw a knuckleball. Three pitchers who threw the knuckler are in the Baseball Hall of Fame (the best known being Hoyt Wilhelm and Phil Niekro), while only two pitchers who currently throw the knuckler on a regular basis are in the majors: Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey. This illustrates the rareness of pitchers who have been able to throw the knuckler and should give perspective on how difficult a pitch it is to throw. With that said, here is how you throw a knuckleball.
To learn how to throw a knuckleball you will need the following:
- A standard-sized baseball
- A baseball glove
- A partner to catch the knuckleball
- Properly grip the baseball to throw the knuckler. The idea behind the knuckleball is that it is delivered with no spin. This is contrary to every other pitch thrown since they all have either induced spin or natural spin. Throwing a spinless ball is what makes the knuckler so tricky. The best way to grip a knuckleball is not with your knuckles, but with you fingernails. Grip it with your index, middle and ring fingers and press your fingernails just below the seams of the ball. Let your pinkie hang loose and grip your thumb directly below the ball.
- You must know the dynamics of the pitch. Irrespective of how the pitch is gripped, the objective of the knuckleball is to get around the rotational spin usually generated when you throw a baseball. Without rotation, the ball's flight is significantly influenced by changes in airflow caused by differences between the smooth surface of the ball and the stitching of its seams. The unequal drag that ensues will tend to redirect the trajectory in the direction of the side with the stitches. However, knowing which way the knuckleball will dodge or dart to is difficult to predict. It is mostly affected by the weather conditions, particularly the wind. Wind is good for a knuckleball pitcher. The windier it is, the more the ball will move. A properly-thrown knuckleball can break two to three feet. This is the science behind the pitch.
- Deliver the ball with a stiff wrist. The most important part of the pitch is making sure that you do not snap your wrist when you throw it. Keep your wrist as stiff as possible. Resist the urge to throw the knuckler as you would any other pitch, because if you throw it that way it will result in spin and your knuckleball will resemble a batting practice fastball. Instead, you should think of pushing it toward home plate with your usual motion. As you release the pitch, extend your fingers straight out toward home plate. It will feel very odd and unnatural when first trying to learn the pitch, but you must stay with it because that’s the only way to avoid putting spin on the ball.