Every pitcher needs to have a second pitch they can throw for a strike. The curveball is one the most common pitches in baseball, and is one of the first pitches a pitcher is taught. There is a right way and a wrong way to throw this pitch, and knowing the proper technique will help you to throw it with success, as well as keep a healthy arm.
To hold the curveball, a pitcher should place his index and middle finger along the right side of the narrow seams for a right-handed pitcher (vice-versa for a lefty). The thumb should be placed underneath the baseball, and the ring and pinky fingers should be tucked along the edge of the ball out of the way.
The curveball has a very similar release to many other pitches. It is thrown with the same arm speed as a fastball. The grip and final release motion causes the ball to curve. To release the curveball, you want to turn your hand in towards your body so when you release the ball, your hand comes down almost like a karate chop. The ball should roll off your fingers spinning forward. The more spin you can generate on the ball, the more break the pitch will have. To achieve the most spin, it is important to place the most pressure on your middle finger and thumb. It is these fingers which make the ball spin.
Ideally, you want your curveball to breat 12-6. That is to say, if you were looking at a clock, you'd like the pitch to break down from the 12 o'clock position to the 6 o'clock position.
There are certain times when throwing a curveball is a bad idea, and there are other times when it is the best choice of a pitch. When the pitcher is ahead in the count, such as 0-2 or 1-2, a curveball might be a good choice. However, if you have been throwing the fastball by the hitter all day long, there is no reason to throw him something he can catch up to.
Another time to use the curveball is in a first pitch scenario. Some hitters may like to jump on first pitch fastballs, so throwing a curveball on the first pitch might be a good idea to keep them off balanced. However, it is also important to remember to stay ahead of the hitters. If you can’t throw a curveball for a first pitch strike, it will come back to haunt you once you start falling behind in the count.
The key to throwing a good curveball is practice. The only way to get comfortable with a pitch is to throw it more. You can practice the curveball grip while you are playing catch by just getting the correct spin. There is no need to throw it hard here, just work on the spin. Once you have the right spin down, you can work on it in your bullpen sessions. Here you will be able to work on the proper release point, and you will learn how much break your curve will generate. As you throw the curveball more, you will find that it will become more natural and will be an effective pitch in your arsenal.
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