How To Throw A Knuckleball

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What Is A Knuckleball?

Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox throws a knuckleball. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Throwing a knuckleball is a dying art. The only full-time knuckleball thrower in Major League Baseball is Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox, who is keeping his career going past age 40 by mastering a pitch that doesn't put much stress on the arm.

That said, it's almost impossible to control, and it's hard for the catcher to catch. And when it's not thrown exactly right, it's easier than batting practice for good hitters.

The secret behind a knuckleball is to throw the pitch with no rotation on the ball whatsoever. The wind resistance on the ball will make it dart all over the place.

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Knuckleball Grip

The most common way to grip a knuckleball.

It's a misnomer to say that the ball is thrown with the knuckles. The most common way to throw a knuckleball is to take your index, middle and ring fingers and press your fingernails (those should be short and strong fingernails) just below the seams of the ball. Keep your pinkie hanging off loose and your thumb directly below the ball.

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How To Throw A Knuckleball: Releasing The Knuckleball

Tim Wakefield throws a knuckleball. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The most important part of the pitch is not to snap your wrist when you throw. Keep your wrist as stiff as possible. Don't think of throwing a knuckleball to the plate: 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's hard to keep a knuckleball secret. But if it's thrown well, it won't matter.