Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Throwing Strikes - The Curveball

Curveball - The curveball is a type of pitch in baseball thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball causing it to dive in a downward path as it approaches the plate. (Wikipedia )


Explains the curveball grip and throwing technique.


When Should Young Players Start Throwing a Curveball?



One thing that I've noticed in my 15 years working with pitchers is that there are more pitchers who hurt themselves from throwing fastballs due to poor mechanics or because they aren't functionally strong or because their workloads are too high - than ever hurt themselves throwing curveballs.


Any one pitch thrown with the proper mechanics is not going to hurt your arm. Any pitch thrown with improper mechanics can and will lead to arm problems. (www.hardballacademy.com)

Know when to throw the curveball


Once a Little League player learns the curveball, they fall in love with the pitch. When they start striking out hitters with the breaking ball, they tend to throw the pitch too frequently in games - in the wrong situations. Some tournament players throw the curveball on 70-80% of their pitches. This pitch can be very effective against young hitters who don't see the curveball in league play, but it doesn't work as well  against a skilled hitter who can lay off the pitch or blast it into the outfield.

Ask your pitching coach when to use the curveball. You want to reserve the pitch for special situations. Don't use it on a batter who is not going to swing at any pitches.

If you have two strikes on a hitter with the 0-2 count, then forget about throwing a breaking ball. Throw the fastball low and away. Lots of young pitchers try throwing a curveball is this situation, but will leave the pitch hanging over the plate - resulting in a hit to the outfield. This happened several times in the Little League World Series.

Remember, the primary pitch should be a good four-seam fastball. The changeup is a good second pitch to use in Little League. 



Nicknames for the Curveball
Popular nicknames for the curveball include "the bender" and "the hook" (both describing the trajectory of the pitch), "'Uncle Charlie," "the hammer," "yakker," and "Public Enemy No. 1." It is also referred to as "the deuce" or "number two" because catchers have traditionally signaled their pitcher to throw the curveball by showing two fingers.


The Truth about Breaking Pitches

By Bill Ripken
There are many young pitchers who enjoy tremendous success as 10- , 11- and 12-year-olds. They have a pretty good fastball and develop a breaking pitch that seems to baffle most of their opponents. Unfortunately, many of these successful young pitchers are never heard from again once they move to regulation-sized diamonds. What happens to them?

Pitchers who fall in love with their breaking balls at young ages often risk or even ruin their futures on the mound for the sake of winning a few games that really won’t have a whole lot of meaning in 10 or 15 years. The more breaking balls a young pitcher throws, the fewer fastballs he or she is throwing. Kids develop their arm strength by throwing fastballs. Developing arm strength by throwing fastballs with proper mechanics helps build the foundation for a successful pitching future.



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