Screwball Grip - How To Grip A Screwball To Get Maximum Reverse Movement

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

Baseball pitchers are always looking for that extra pitch they can add to their repertoire. However, most of the extra pitches are very similar. Curveballs, sliders, and cutters all break in the same direction. Throwing a screwball can add a whole new dimension to a pitcher’s game. A screwball is essentially a backwards curveball. It moves in the opposite direction of a curve which makes it a great pitch to use in conjunction with other off-speed pitches.

To grip the screwball, hold it like a four seam fastball with the index and middle finger on top of the ball across the widest part of the seams. Put the thumb underneath the ball with the ring and pinky fingers along one side. Hold the ball out away from the palm on the fingertips, with most of the pressure on the index finger and thumb.

Throwing the screwball is nearly opposite of a curveball. At release point, reverse the wrist action of the curve and turn the wrist inwards. This will create a spin in the opposite direction of the curveball and should create reverse movement as well. For a right-handed pitcher, the ball should break down and to the right, and a left-handed pitcher should see a break down and to the left.

Because of this reverse curveball break, a right-handed pitcher will throw a screwball to a left-handed hitter in a situation where they would throw a slider to a right-handed hitter. A left-handed pitcher might throw a screwball to a right-handed hitter in the same situation they would throw a left-handed hitter a slider. Being able to throw a screwball is a great tool to have when a slider won’t be able to get the job done.

Like any other pitch, it takes a lot of practice to be able to throw the screwball with good command. To help develop accuracy and feel for the pitch, try to get used to the grip by playing catch with it before a game. Once the grip feels comfortable, begin mixing it into your bullpen sessions. The more you throw a pitch in practice, the more comfortable it will be in a game situation.

The screwball is an advanced pitch. Throwing it incorrectly may cause arm problems. It is important to seek proper training when learning a new pitch, especially the screwball. Throwing a screwball incorrectly can really “screw” your arm up.


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