Are you wondering how to throw a curveball?
In this post, I’m going to show you how to throw a curveball that makes batters look silly and sometimes… even fall over like this curveball from Clayton Kershaw. He’s got one of the best curveballs in the game.
Before any baseball pitcher decides to start throwing curveballs, he must understand how to grip the pitch correctly. There are several different and unique ways to grip a curveball.
Some popular curveball grips include a beginners curve, a straight curve, a knuckle curve, and a spike curve. This is the first part of a series focusing on the curveballs.
How to grip a curveball: 3 different types of curveballs
Each of these curveball grips are an excellent choice for any developing pitcher. The grips are in order based on the level of difficulty. Personally, I have always had great success with the spike curveball because of how much movement is possible.
You must decide which grip will be the most beneficial and natural to throw for your specific arm angle or throwing motion. Take a look.
1. How to grip a beginners curveball
The beginners curve is designed for baseball pitchers who are initially learning how to throw the pitch. It is considered the beginners grip because it forces the pitcher to throw the pitch with the correct motion. Let’s take a look at how to grip this type of curveball, and also take a look at some professional pitchers that utilize this grip.
Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright is most popular for utilizing the beginners curveball grip. As you can see from the photo, you grip this pitch with your middle finger placed on the curve of the seam, and your index finger pointed in the air. For every curveball grip, your thumb will always be placed on the opposite bottom seam of the ball. The ball should be gripped very lightly, and it shouldn’t be tucked deep in the hand.
The beginners curve can be gripped on any part of the seams, and each pitcher must decide what is most comfortable. One of the biggest issues with this grip is the possibility that good hitters can pick up on the lifted finger.
If you’re a pitcher that doesn’t hide the ball very well, then it could be dangerous to use this pitch past high school. However, if you have a nasty beginners curve like Adam Wainwright, then you could continue to use this pitch even if you make it to the major leagues.
Not interested in the beginners curve? Then you might be interested in the straight curve grip.
2. How to grip a straight curveball
The straight curve is the most popular grip among baseball pitchers. The only difference between the beginners and straight curve is the finger placement. With the straight curve, both fingers will grip the seams.
Both your index and middle finger will straddle the outer seam of the baseball. As you can see in the image of former Royals pitcher Zack Greinke, he is using the traditional straight curve grip. Greinke’s thumb placement is in a unique position, but in most circumstances, it is best to place the thumb of the opposite seam.
Many professional and college pitchers utilize the straight curveball because of its simplicity. One of the biggest issues with this grip is that pitchers have a tendency to choke the ball too tightly. Doing this will make this pitch have less break and will be difficult to control.
The best methods for gripping a curveball is to always hold it lightly, and do not choke the ball too deep in the hand. Pitchers who are unsuccessful with the traditional straight curve, can try the knuckle grip.
3. How to grip a knuckle or spike curveball
The knuckle curve is considered a more advanced pitching grip, but it has some great movement potential. This grip is a great alternative to the others because it is known for having some the hardest breaking movement.
Former Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett is popular for gripping a knuckle curve.
Burnett’s middle finger rested on the outer seam just like the previous two grips, except his index finger nail pressed into the back seam like a knuckleball.
Depending on preference, pitchers can dig their index finger into the seam or they can bend the index finger so that the front knuckle is rested on the ball. Either way you will undoubtedly see some excellent breaking movement if you utilize the spike curveball grip.
Now that you understand how to grip a curveball, it’s time for you to learn the motion of actually throwing one.
While the curveball grip is a very important, correctly throwing the curveball is what truly matters.
The best curveball pitchers will throw this pitch frequently, and with great consistency. Knowing how to throw a curveball correctly is what separates average from elite pitchers, and healthy from injured pitchers. Follow the subsequent steps to avoid any negative results of throwing this pitch!
How to throw a curveball step by step (10 steps)
- Acquire your preferred grip.
- Make sure your grip and wrist are relaxed and loose.
- Begin your pitching mechanics.
- Typically, it is best to decrease your stride length to a point slightly less than your fastball stride.
- Once you reach foot strike and the loaded position, you want to make sure that your elbow is equal to or above your shoulder.
- During the arm acceleration to the plate your arm and hand should still be in a fastball position.
- Think fastball for as long as possible.
- Begin to turn your wrist similar to how you would throw a football.
- Snap your wrist and arm downward, letting the ball tumble out of your hand off of your middle finger if you’re using a beginners or knuckle curve. If you’re using the a straight curve grip, then the ball will roll of your index finger. This motion will create backspin, and the harder you snap, the more the curveball will break.
- Your elbow should be at your belt buckle at the follow through position, and your back should be flat over your landing leg.
6 things to avoid when throwing a curveball
- Do not drop your elbow into an arm slot that is different than your fastball.
- Do not overly rotate your wrist.
- Do not let your fingers rotate under the ball. The fingers should always be on top of the baseball. If the fingers rotate under, it will force you to cast the ball instead of snapping it.
- Do not slow your arm down when throwing the pitch. Your arm speed should be exactly the same as your fastball. The grip and your mechanics will naturally slow down the ball so that you don’t need to slow down your arm speed.
- Do not throw a curveball high in the strikezone.
- Do not hang your curveball! Hanging curveballs are the result of improper throwing mechanics.
Follow all of these steps and you will absolutely destroy your competition and have everyone saying how “nasty” your curveball is (the ultimate compliment for a pitcher).
Be that guy!
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