One of the most common questions we get as pitching instructors is how to throw a curveball. I know there all sorts of philosophies on when to begin teaching an athlete a curve, etc. This post won’t examine that question. Instead, I wanted to discuss a question that isn’t asked nearly as much. Does a pitcher need a curveball in the first place? The short answer is most likely at some point. The little longer answer is that one can go a long way without the reliance on a curveball.
Last night Cliff Lee, (one of my most favorite pitchers) threw a three hit shutout while striking out 12 and walking just one batter. That is an awesome outing at any level. What’s more interesting is that he didn’t throw a single curveball until the sixth inning. So how was he making outs with a fastball that at best is in the very low 90s? Movement and location. If you were to sift through our blog you’d find many references to that. Lee threw a fastball, change, and cutter. Having pitches that moved both ways kept hitters off balance to say the least. The third time he faced hitters he added the curve as an another pitch for hitters to think about.
I know curveballs are fun, but please take our advice and make sure your mechanics are consistent and correct before learning one. Once you’ve learned how pitching mechanics work, then experiment all you want with different grips. Just make sure you are releasing pitches properly, otherwise you risk injury. Once you’ve got two good pitches you can throw for a strike in any count, begin adding a third. Just remember, throwing five pitches that work inconsistently is no way near as good as throwing two pitches that are highly effective in any count.
Lastly, thanks again to all of you all who jumped on our Pitching Grips DVD sale this week. If you’ve not yet had a chance to pick it up, the 25% off coupon code: grips is good until midnight Saturday, then the DVD will move back to its regular price.
Enjoy your weekend!