What is that pitch you might occasionally see a pitcher throw where the baseball seems to float in different directions? You just saw the knuckleball in action. Announcers might refer to it by another name: knuckler, floater, or other imaginative titles. You may become interested and wonder, how do you throw a knuckleball?
First, take a grip on the baseball. Clench with the tips of your index, middle, and ring fingers just below the seams, on the top of the baseball. Press the tips of your fingers into the ball, as if digging into it.
Support the ball and your grip on it by holding your thumb below it in order to prop it up. Do not place your pinky on the baseball, though, but keep it away, over to the side.
The next step to throw the knuckleball is to begin your windup sequence. Be sure that you pivot and shift your body weight, beginning from the back foot and moving forward toward your target (which would be home plate during a ball game). Release the ball toward the target, but while throwing do not snap your wrist as you would in making a normal pitch. Instead, keep your wrist as stable as possible, in order to eliminate as much spin from the baseball's movement as you can.
Continue with your follow through while releasing the ball. Your fingers should all extend toward the target (home plate) as you let go of the baseball. Ideally, your feet will be parallel when the pitch is completed, while your throwing arm will move across the front of your body.
While a knuckleball is useful in its difficulty to be hit by the batter, it also poses problems for the defensive team. Namely, it can be hard for the pitcher to control and throw for strikes. What can be even more difficult at time, though, is having the catcher actually catch the pitch. Some knuckleball pitchers will actually have personal catchers who are more adept in getting a hold on the floater.
Most Major League Baseball pitchers who use the knuckleball try to throw it within several miles per hour of 70MPH. If the pitch is thrown too slow, it may not achieve the maximum amount of movement (however, it can still be fun to watch!).
Some notable knuckleball pitchers include: Eddie Cicotte ("inventor" who actually threw it with the knuckles), Hall of Famers Phil Niekro, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Jesse Haines, and currently active pitchers Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey, Josh Banks, and Charlie Zink.