When is the best time to throw the curve? When you are ahead of the count with one or two strikes on the batter or surprise the batter by throwing it your first pitch. I only recommend throwing the curveball the first pitch if you have excellent command and can throw it for a strike. You always want to start the count in your favor.
I like pitchers that aren’t afraid to throw an off-speed pitch their first pitch. Remember, being an unpredictable pitcher is always good.
Often times a first pitch off-speed ends up being a slow roller or a pop-out if their swinging. First pitch outs are ideal for anyone. Less pitches per inning and you can last later into the game.
Curveball Grip: place your index and ring finger on the seams opposite of the thumb. The thumb and middle finger should split the baseball in half. Apply some pressure on your thumb and middle fingers. Your index finger should simply rest on the ball next to the middle finger. I teach pitchers that are just learning this grip to slightly raise their index finger off the ball to ensure they dont apply pressure with it.
I also don’t mind showing them how to throw a knuckle curve just to understand they are only using the thumb and middle finger to throw the pitch. The index finger just helps stabilize the ball so it doesn’t squirt on you.
Remember, the knuckle curve isn’t a different pitch, its just a grip.
When throwing this pitch, make sure you maintain solid fastball mechanics. One, you don’t want to tip the batter so he will know you are throwing something other than a fastball by changing your mechanics. You also want to keep the same arm speed and arm angle. The only thing that changes is wrist and forearm angle.
At release, avoid snapping your wrist. The ball rolls off your index finger while spinning the ball with your thumb and middle finger.
A fact about the curveball: Hitters can hit a good curveball, but they struggle hitting a great curveball. A great curveball deceives the batter and drops aggressively in the end. Keep practicing so that you will be one of the great curveball pitchers.
Curveball Tip #1: Ensure that your fastball mechanics are in order before learning a curve. Also, to make sure that the ball doesn’t squirt on you, finish the pitch with your glove in front of you, not on the side of your body. Refer to your Pitching Mechanics DVD if you are not sure what we mean by that.
Curveball Tip #2: Coaches and parents need to monitor how many curveballs a young athlete throws, especially when the pitch really begins to work for him. Pitchers who throw the curveball well and experience great success with it, tend to overuse the pitch. The ratio of pitches thrown should be 15-20% curveballs regardless of how effective your curve is.
Curveball Tip #3: In regards to hitters. Great hitters only swing at a curve when they are protecting the plate or it hangs. Great hitters don’t like curveballs, they just don’t waste a good fastball opportunity when it presents itself. Keep that in mind when you throw the curve.
Are you ready to throw a nasty curve and then some? Own your own pitching grips DVD today!