How To Throw A Curveball
Throwing a curve ball in the same manner as the Major League pitchers do is an acquired skill. No one is born with the knowledge. However, a number of coaches teaching younger players in middle school and high school are unknowingly teaching the skill in a manner that can injure the young players under their care. An overhand curve ball puts excess stress on the young players’ arm and shoulder and can lead to destruction of vital tissues in the shoulder and elbow. Teaching a curve ball should follow the steps defined below for best results without harming the players.
1) First the pitcher needs to make sure he doesn’t telegraph his intent to use a curve ball to the batter. By using the glove as a blind, the pitcher can hide the telltale curve ball grip from the eyes of the batter. This lets the pitcher get the drop on the batter as he winds up for the pitch. By choosing a glove with a closed web the pitcher has a better chance of hiding the ball from the prying eyes of the batter.
2) Secondly, avoid showing the intent to throw a curve ball by acting like you are throwing a curve ball every time you pitch. If you do not need to make a dive for the ball in the glove to get it in the curve ball grip because you are already holding it that way you avoid having a tell for the batter to pick up in anticipation of your pitch. If you decide not to use a curve ball, switching to a fastball grip is less obvious to the batter facing you.
3) The third step in developing your pitch involves execution of the proper grip on the ball. Optimally, your middle finger should parallel the inside half of the seam and produce pressure on the ball against the glove. At the same time the index finger should be placed adjacent to it nearly touching the middle finger and the ball should be held in the grip of these two fingers alone. If the pitcher’s hand is too small to hold the ball in this manner, he is too young to train in the use of the curve ball, period. The ring finger cradles the underside of the ball with the knuckle on the seam on the same side as the middle finger. The side of the thumb should rest directly on top of the seam so that the middle finger, the ring finger and the thumb frame the horseshoe seam on the ball. This grip maximizes control as the ball is delivered.
4) Finally, make sure the wrist is not snapped or twisted as the curve ball is delivered. To generate the characteristic curve in the flight of the ball on delivery, a movement that could be compared to delivering a straight down blow on a butcher block is needed. The right handed pitcher should face first base with his torso as the pitch is released. Similarly a left handed pitcher should face third base with the torso as the pitch is delivered. In this manner damage to the arm and elbow is kept at a minimum throughout the pitch.
Examination of the characteristic curve ball trajectory will show a perfect north to south arc with no drift east or west. This results in the sudden drop off in the arc of the ball at the end of the ball’s flight. Diligent practice will soon let the greenest rookie produce an acceptable curve ball in a reasonable amount of time as long as these rules are followed. Following the rules will also ensure that the young pitcher will grow old in the game and not on the injured list.