Written by Josh Smith (@HWLcommissioner) | Commissioner and Author/Editor | 04.21.2013
So you have an interest in wiffleball? Good. Since it's a game that is best known in the Northeast and Midwest, many people in West Virginia might not be so familiar with the game or product. One of the first things you must know about wiffleball is what constitutes as a wiffle ball. The balls you see sometimes that have holes all over them. That's not a wiffle ball. A wiffle ball is a plastic baseball that has 8 oblong holes on one side of the ball. Those holes enable the ball to do some rather acrobatic things in the air. It was invented in 1953 by a man named David Mullany in Connecticut. He developed it for his sons so that they could throw curveballs without hurting their elbows like he did when he played semi-pro baseball.
So how do you throw these pitches? It's all about where you put your fingers on the ball and how you release it. It's not hard but some pitches are easier to throw than others. There's five main pitches you have to choose from: straight fast ball, curve ball, screw ball, sinker/drop, and riser.
The STRAIGHT FASTBALL is the easiest pitch to
throw in the game of Wiffle®Ball. Holes should face home plate and the
tips of the index and middle fingers should be placed over the top holes
with the thumb on the bottom seem of the ball. The ring finger and
pinky finger are together along the seem of the ball. Throwing the ball
with a straight over hand motion will create the ball to go straight
towards the target, even on a windy day. This grip is the same for a
right handed pitcher and left handed pitcher. Do not grip the ball too
tight, a nice loose grip is more effective.
The CURVE BALL is the bread and butter pitch for most pitchers. Holes out for
right handed pitchers. The middle finger should be placed to the left of the
holes where the seem of the ball is. The index finger is spread two inches from
the middle finger, like making the peace sign. The thumb is place on the bottom
of the ball along the seem and should be placed in the middle of the two fingers.
The ring finger and the pinky finger are together and against the center of the
ball, where the trademark and patent number are. Again a loose grip is very effective.
An over hand motion has the biggest curve and can be thrown accurate with some
practice. This pitch breaks from right to left on right handed batters (it actually
starts behind them). When thrown properly, expect a three to four foot break.
The RISER is harder to throw then the curve ball. The main reason being, this
pitch has to be thrown side arm. The grip is holes down. The index and middle
fingers are tightly together above the holes along the seem. The thumb is opposite
of the index and middle fingers along the seem too. The ring finger and pinky
finger are together and touching the center of the ball where the trademark and
patent number is. This pitch has to be thrown side arm. When thrown properly,
with a whip motion, expect the ball to rise from two to three feet. If you are
throwing the ball too high, you must lower your body while in the wind up to
lower the location of the ball while entering the strike zone. This pitch is
very difficult to hit when thrown hard. The spin on the ball causes many hitters
to foul the ball straight back. The grip is the same for both left handed and
right handed pitchers. The big difference with the grip of this pitch is, hold
the ball tight, a tight grip is very effective.
The SCREWBALL is like the curve ball except the
grip is the exact opposite. Holes in for the right handed pitchers.
Place the index finger on the seem of the ball. The middle finger is
spread two inches from the index finger, like making the peace sign. The
thumb is on the seem of the ball and the ring finger and the pinky
finger are together and touching the solid part of the ball. This pitch
is thrown over hand and on right handed batters it breaks inside from
left to right about three feet when thrown properly. A loose grip is
recommended and is the most effective. This pitch is very hard to master
and have control of. You must practice this pitch quite often. Left
handed pitchers grip the ball opposite.
The SINKER is the most difficult pitch to throw and is feared by every hitter.
Holes up with this pitch and place the index finger on the seam of the ball.
The middle finger is spread two inches from the index finger, like making the
peace sign. The thumb is on the seam of the ball and the ring finger and the
pinky finger are together and touching the solid part of the ball. This pitch
is thrown SIDE ARM or Three-Quarters. This pitch sinks hard on both right and
left handed batters. The grip is the same for right handed and left handed pitchers.
This pitch is thrown just like the screwball, but it is thrown side arm to three-quarters.
This makes the sinker almost impossible to master, few Pro pitchers have this
pitch in their arsenal. This pitch is very hard on a pitcher’s arm and
is NOT recommended for younger pitchers to throw. A loose grip is recommended
and is the most effective.
REFERENCE: The pitching grips, illustrations, and directions are from the New Jersey Wiffleball Association.