The four seam fastball is a pitch that every pitcher should have in his arsenal. In fact, it should be the first pitch he learns as a young pitcher. It can help the young pitcher to develop control and consistency, and help the more experienced pitcher get a much needed strike in a key situation.
Let’s begin with how to grip the baseball properly to throw a four seam fastball. As you can see in the picture, the index and middle fingers will be placed perpendicularly across the seams with the pads of the fingers on the seam. The thumb is then positioned underneath the baseball, most likely resting on the side of the pad of the thumb. There should be a space between the baseball and palm of the hand, and the baseball should be held loosely with the fingers. This grip allows the baseball to spin in a fashion that limits movement and generates the best velocity compared to other pitches.
The four seam fastball is more or less a straight pitch. There is very little horizontal or vertical movement on the ball as it approaches home plate. This lack of movement makes it somewhat easier to hit as a hitter can anticipate the location of the baseball as it approaches the plate. As you rise to higher levels (high school, college, pro), the hitters who can hit a fastball will rise with you and it will be more difficult to throw a good fastball past a good hitter. This does not mean the four seam fastball becomes less effective, but instead means that the pitcher needs to learn when to throw the four seamer for it to be effective. Also, if he can locate the pitch well, then the it becomes even more effective.
Remember, even though this pitch may have little movement, it typically produces the highest velocity compared to other pitches and is the go to pitch for the power pitcher. When the experienced pitcher has developed a good arsenal of different pitches, his four seam fastball becomes even more effective because of the velocity at which it travels to the plate. The four seamer can be used to set up other off-speed or breaking pitches, or the pitcher can use these other pitches to make his four seamer appear to be faster than it is.
No matter how hard you throw, every pitcher needs to keep the four seam fastball in his selection of pitches. Even a lower velocity fastball can be used to the pitcher’s advantage if it is located well and used intelligently with other pitches. Master this basic fastball and you will be on your way to becoming a better pitcher.