9 year old curve ball

want to get some opinions on a 9 year old throwing a curve ball. my son started seeing a pitching coach once a week about 3 months ago and he just started teaching him a curve. he already throws 2 and 4 seam and change up. his mechanics are very good his spead is above average not overpowering. when I questioned the coach on the curve he replied that his mechanics are good enough and that his arm speed is not fast enough to hurt himself. he only lets him throw it under his supervision at practice approx. 8-12 times. it does break o.k. needs tighter spin. any opinions?

I’ve been a coach at all levels for upwards of 25 years, trained/interned with a pretty darn good D-1 school, whose head coach has coached 2 different olympic squads as well as winning a sub-D-1 WS prior to stepping up to D-1, 2 years ago, whose pitching coach has been through Perdue, Jacksonville University and minor league ball, I am closely in touch with one of the guys who caught Maddux’s first Cy, and his pitching director who threw professionally in the Toranto orginization, I’ve written and participated on message boards and forums for several years. I have never, ever, seen anyone recommend teaching a 9 yr old to throw a curve.

It would seem he’s being groomed for heavy travel ball involvement (Where else would a 9 yr old even need a curve)…it’s your kid, money and time and not my business to tell you how to use or spend it…so I won’t but…Wow.

Your kid is prolly all excited about throwing it right??? Well, he is 9 and does not know what he is talking about.

Your the dad, and you should know that a 9 year old should not being throwing a freakig curveball!!! I mean he!!, has your head been buried in the sand the past 20 years? Have you not heard all the horror stories of blowing out and ruining arms??

You shouldn’t even be thinking about letting him throw it at 9 years old.

I agree with JD in that you don’t normally hear about people recommending teaching the curve to a 9 year old. However, there is some merit in doing so and that is that you can teach them the correct way to throw the curve before they learn incorrectly on their own. The benefit here is that the kids will throw curves when they’re not being supervised so knowing the correct way to throw one will help in those situations.

The “damage is done” and your son has already been taught the curve. Hopefully, he has been taught correctly. Now he must be taught that he must limit the number of curves he throws. In other words, it’s not enough for young kids to throw the curve correctly. They must also limit the number that they throw. Throwing the curve correctly is easier on the arm than throwing it incorrectly but it is still harder on the arm than the fastball or change-up. For older kids, I would say the number of curves thrown should be 20-25% of their total pitch count. For young kids, I would limit it much more. Some rules of thumb I’ve heard used are “1 curve max per batter faced” or “1 curve max per inning”. You can decide whether to allow your son to throw curves and, if so, how many.

Two final comments…

First, the change-up is usually more difficult to learn than the curve and time spent throwing curves is time not spent throwing change-ups. So, the curve can steal development time from the change-up. Thi is not what you want with young pitchers.

Second, since the curve is usually very effective against young kids, coaches who focus too much on winning will often call for more curves than young pitchers should be throwing. You’ll need to watch for this - maybe talk to your son’s coach(es) before it becomes an issue.

Here’s a real life story from my and my sons experience.

I have been a breaking ball pitcher all my life. There is frankly not much I could not do with a baseball as far as making it move this way or that.

So when my son wanted to start playing ball, it was natural for me to teach him all my tricks. We never over practiced the curve because I kept hearing from doctors that it was hard on the arm, but from age 6 he knew how to correctly spin a drop curve (kid has IQ 135+, so he did understand it). I also taught him the changeup as well, but we primarily worked on fastballs.

When he was 14 he had a real bout with tendonitis. Now he had been flipping a few curves up each game and a few in practice but not a real power curve or a real snappy pitch-it got him a lot of stike outs. He lost a quarter season of baseball and half a season of pitching. AND the orthopedic surgeon said anytime you pitch a ball where the heel of your hand leads (as in a curveball) you place tremendous stress on the tendons of the elbow. No more curves until he was 15 1/2 and then only a few-no sliders til 16 1/2 or better 17.

So now he starts back pitching but without the curveball. Now he really morned the loss of the thing. It was like loosing your favorite tool or going into a fight one handed. Yes we worked on fastballs and changeups, but he was really happy when he got his curve back. He had the date marked on his calendar! Thankfully, there was no damage to his elbow, and we followed the Dr’s orders to the letter. It is the only time that my son has ever been truly angry with me, because I would not let him play or pitch until the doctor approved his return. The Doctor latter said most kids and their parent do not follow his orders and he has had to tell MANY kids that their baseball was over. Wow!

There no bigger backer of the curveball (or slider) on this board than me, but at 9, for the love of God, your not even throwing from 60’6 ! I was careful with my son as well. His mechanics are great, but the Surgeon set me straight.

The Reds team doctor Tim Cremchek hates breaking balls for kids. He speaks every spring about the danger of throwining breaking balls. here’san artcle:


I dont want to rain on the pitching coaches parade. Until it happened to my son I believed the same thing-teach it right , good mechanics in general, dont over use it…it didn’t matter.

Please learn from my mistake, Ian

yo king relax, I have heard the horror stories and that is why I am seeking opinions. the kid was excited to throw it but also reluctant because of the stories I have told him. like I said he only throws it under the watchful eye of his pitchcoach who I do respect alot and has pro experience, also teaches alot of the good high school pitchers in the area. he can throw a change but the difference between his fast ball is not enough to get out good hitters yet. thanks roger and ian that is the type of advice I am looking for.

Let me also add this Luky, the pitching coach for the D-1 school also contends that no pitch thrown correctly is intrinsicly damaging to the arm…which to me is somewhat ironic because he vehemently urges coaches to hold off on the curve…sort of a Catch-22…I’ve seen this sort of contradictory information for years…note, no limit on hooks at the LL WS, just pitch limits, my son threw his first curve at 11 and competitively at 12. It was limited by limiting the amount he played…ie. he only played league ball and the resultant post-season play, along with fall ball. He’s not had arm issues.
Roger is right, the cat is out of the bag and I certainly understand the logic of teaching it properly. I would have heartburn with my not being the person who decided when it was right for my son, I would be bothered if the pitching coach didn’t at least discuss it with me prior to introducing it. Hopefully you will be “along with him” and be able to control the use of it.

  1. Find new pitching coach

  2. Tell sons coach he is not allowed to throw anything
    other than a fastball and change

  3. Throw first pitch strikes, change speeds, work fast

  4. Have fun !

no curve until 16!!!

curves are useless at that age and league. first there isnt enough room for a true curve to break and to get one to break it needs to be thrown extremely hard.

yo yanks, you are wrong, it breaks and breaks very well and he can throw it for strikes. the coach is teaching him to throw it at the hitters hip and it breaks on the inside part of the plate and aim for the middle and it breaks to the outside just off the plate.

Wow, that’s even smarter…teach the young man how to throw a slurve, Brilliant !

Anyone who is teaching a nine year old to throw a curve should be banned from baseball forever.

thought 2 or 3 times about whether or not to post, might as well.

list of those who should be banned from baseball for teaching or allowing a 9 year old to throw a breaking ball:

  1. bob feller - i threw curveballs and all four of my pitches from the time i was 8 or 9. (bob feller’s little black book of baseball)

  2. i threw curveballs from the time i started pitching little league. jim brewer - la dodgers reliever and master of the screwball. also was a major league pitching coach for the montreal expos and national league all-star team.

  3. dr jobe - inventor of tommy john surgery " no pitch thrown properly is any harder on the arm than any other pitch" (woman’s day special: coaching youth league baseball, 198-something)

  4. me - my son started throwing the breaking ball at 10 - very sparingly and with excellent mechanics.

if you’re leary of the pitch or don’t know what you’re doing, don’t throw it. err on the side of caution. randy johnson didn’t start throwing it till 12 and he throws it pretty good. roger clemens didn’t start pitching till high school and he caught up fast (but he did enormous amounts of work when he did start and threw a nerf ball into a mirror constantly to get it right). what you do during your high school years is extremely important. this is where you must become an athlete. you can do that playing other sports or participating in a strenuous off-season program.

that’s enough - start yelling. i don’t take it too personal.

i agree yanksneeddice-K

yes that’s right, even big leaguers can have a hard time hitting a pitcher throwing only fastballs. and the guys that dont throw hard enough to do that can go throught a lineup throwing a changeup. so i HIGHLY doubt the batters your son faces are too good of hitters that he cannot be sucessful throwing high and low fastballs or a changeup. yes there is junkballers out there that can throw all different types of breaking pitches but let your kid get old enough to decid what he wants to be. until then, teach him how to pitch a baseball on corners.

Your thoughts and opinions have equal value to others Dusty, this thread is interesting and it is sort of a cross section of how things are and how they are taught. You observations are very pertainent…please don’t hesitate…did you notice on my second post that a D-1 pitching coach echoed the statement that no correctly thrown pitch is worse/better on the arm than another? Lots of passion though…I think the hook was made sort of the boogie man of pitches when folks were casting around trying to decide why more kids in modern times are developing arm issues…and now it’s over-use…which I find a bit more logical.

I have had kids tell parents when questioned about throwing “the demon” curveball -allay their parents fears by telling them that they did not throw a curve at all-they threw a slider. The parents walked away thinking well… thats all right then…Had to set them straight!

I know some people (in the bigs) have thrown curves and sliders from early age and not gotten hurt, but this is not the norm. The Doc’s have no axe to grind; they just dont want to do Tommy John surgery on kids.

Frankly, I can not watch the LLWS anymore! Kids throw breaking ball after breaking ball, for WHAT? I am not even getting into how many pitches they throw-which is waaaay toooo many!

Ted Power (Louisville Bats-Reds system-AAA afiliate) teaches a knuckle curve that is kid safe-kind of modeled after Burt Hooten’s but not requiring the finger strength that Hooten used, I will see if he will post it here.


Hooten…great Cub…Dodger…great pitch, I hope he does.

what i see as more of a problem than curveballs is overuse in travel ball and tournaments. even if you throw only fastball/change-up with solid mechanics, once you reach fatigue in the muscles, the stress is shifted to the connective tissue and the arm goes down. this is incredibly dangerous and it happens every weekend. especially in tournaments like the superseries where there are no pitching rules.