The knuckleball pitchers that you see so easily have worked hard and practiced for ages before they could execute the knuckleball perfectly. The knuckleball pitch is rarely used because the margin for error is extremely high. Because of the complicated grip and release of the baseball, the odds of not throwing it correctly increase significantly. If a pitcher throws a knuckleball incorrectly, it would be similar to a little leaguer pitching to a professional.
Many pitchers have a misconception that to remove spin from the pitch, they must push the baseball out of their hand instead of throwing it normally. The knuckleball is thrown like any other pitch except for the grip. When thrown by a skilled pitcher at roughly 55 to 75 miles per hour , the knuckle ball rotates between a half and one revolution as it moves erratically towards the plate. Its flight is an unpredictable and virtually uncontrollable ‘dance’ that makes it almost impossible to hit.
R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets in 2012, has had a Cy Young level season by throwing an effective knuckle ball. In the past, pitchers like Tim Wakefield and Hoyt Wilhelm dominated hitters by throwing an effective knuckle ball. If you learn from this guide and make sure that you put in the right amount of practice, rest assured that you that you’ll be able to throw the perfect knuckleball soon enough. Keep practing and you’ll be one of the few pitchers in your leauge that can master the knuckleball. Push the ball upward using your fingertips, stretching your knuckles, and release the grip of the thumb at the right time to master the knuckleball. If you’ve practiced enough, you can learn to use the four-knuckle grip quite easily.
The diagrams above are consistent with how the catcher reacts to a knuckleball. The batter and the catcher both tend to make the same mistake when predicting the path of a knuckleball. They presumably base their wiffle ball machine predictions on the path of the ball over the first 40 feet or so. Based on that prediction, the batter swings his bat at the expected point of arrival, and the catcher moves his glove to the same point.
While the exact origin of the knuckleball pitch is debated, the most prevalent use of the pitch was in the 20th century. Since 2000, there have only been a handful of pitchers that have used the knuckleball on a regular basis, but one of them won the Cy Young award in 2012. Every pitcher has to have at least two good pitches to ‘set up’ the hitter and throw his timing off or keep him guessing. Most use a fastball as their main pitch, and the curveball is popular with younger players as pitch #2.
The release of the knuckleball is the most crucial step in throwing a successful pitch. When the hand comes forward to release the ball, all fingers must let go of the ball simultaneously to ensure no spin. The ball rolls off the fingertips on other pitches, creating a spin that moves the ball. For a ball to not spin at all, all fingers and the thumb must let go of the ball at the same time.
Because of the slow velocity of the pitch, it will drop, but the side-to-side movement of the ball confuses hitters, catchers, and even umpires. As with hitters, the unpredictable motion of the knuckleball makes it one of the most difficult pitches for catchers to handle, and they tend to be charged with a significantly higher number of passed balls. Another factor contributing to the rarity of the knuckleball is the difficulty of throwing the pitch. A. Dickey estimates that it takes at least a year to grasp its fundamentals. The knuckleball is radically different from any other pitch in a pitcher’s arsenal, being less predictable and difficult to control.