A new way to throw a curveball

Is this method of throwing a curveball harmful? I’ve tried throwing it and had no pain, but if it kills my arm long term then it’s useless.

New? Different? I don’t think so. The pitcher is going from the full windup—which I used to do—and basically he’s throwing it sidearm—which I used to do. He’s also getting his full body into the pitch, which never hurt anybody—I learned that from watching how three Yankee pitchers of long ago did it. I didn’t see the pitch break very much; it looked more like a slider. But if you’re comfortable with it and you’re not experiencing any discomfort, use it—with discretion, because you don’t want batters catching on to it. :slight_smile:

A normal curve ball is thrown with 90 degrees of supination from the fastball hand position. The pitch thrown in that video is thrown with 180 degrees of supination. So as the upper arm internally rotates, there will be more torque on the elbow while trying to maintain that 180 degrees of supination up to release point.

Also notice that despite all of that supination, the hand/arm still pronates after ball release. With a fastball, the hand/arm pronates about 90 degrees after ball release. With a normal curve, the hand/arm pronates about 180 degrees. With the pitch thrown in the video, there is about 270 degrees of pronation. And this pronation happens in a very short amount of time.

So, yes, I’d say the technique shown in the video is more stresful than a normal curve. I suspect the pitcher is using that technique to get a true 12-6 spin on the ball. I would never teach it.

Nor would I. I used to throw my curveball with a sharp karate-chop wrist snap, and I had great success with it and no arm or shoulder problems. My pitching coach liked what I was doing with it and told me to stick with it, and so I did. 8)

I’ve heard Barry Zito actually throws his curve like this. Haven’t confirmed though.

[quote=“Roger”]A normal curve ball is thrown with 90 degrees of supination from the fastball hand position. The pitch thrown in that video is thrown with 180 degrees of supination. So as the upper arm internally rotates, there will be more torque on the elbow while trying to maintain that 180 degrees of supination up to release point.

Also notice that despite all of that supination, the hand/arm still pronates after ball release. With a fastball, the hand/arm pronates about 90 degrees after ball release. With a normal curve, the hand/arm pronates about 180 degrees. With the pitch thrown in the video, there is about 270 degrees of pronation. And this pronation happens in a very short amount of time.

So, yes, I’d say the technique shown in the video is more stresful than a normal curve. I suspect the pitcher is using that technique to get a true 12-6 spin on the ball. I would never teach it.[/quote]

Roger:

Can you elaborate on the following points?

  1. Why do you believe the degree of wrist supination causes more torque on the elbow during internal rotation?
  2. Why do you believe that there is a correlation between amount of wrist pronation that occurs through/after release and elbow stress?
    2a) Sub-question: When you say “more stressful,” on what tissues/ligaments/bones/tendons do you think is receiving more stress? Are any receiving less?

I’m not trying to dirtberry you here, I promise. I’m actually interested in your answers and your sources.

[quote=“kyleb”]
Roger:

Can you elaborate on the following points?

  1. Why do you believe the degree of wrist supination causes more torque on the elbow during internal rotation? [/quote]
    At the point of max external rotation of the humerus, there is little torque on the elbow. But as the humerus internally rotates while the hand angle is maintained, there humerus puts increasing torque on the elbow. The wrist/hand/forearm may not be actively supinating but even just maintaining the karate chop position means is it resisting internal rotation as the humerus internally rotates. If the hand/wrist/forearm are put into 180 degrees of rotation then the point at which significant torque on the elbow occurs that much sooner. This is all just me mentally picturing what the arm does. It becomes clearer if you imagine the humerus interally rotating while the hand/wrist/forearm maintains with the arm straight. And that, to me, is legitimate because while the arm starts off bent at MER it extends and straightens closer to ball release.

As we know, the hand/write/forearm usually pronates naturally after ball release. For pitchers who actively supinate into ball release, this means there is a very abrupt change of direction that takes place. That just seems like a lot of violent movement while the arm is also moving forward very fast.

Good question and I probably don’t know the answer.

I appreciate that. :wink: My source for answer (1) is me just thinking about what’s happening. If you can show me I’m wrong, I’m open to that.

My source for (2) is House. He’s always emphasized the change of direction as being harmful. He does stress that limiting the number of curves thrown makes throwing them ok which implies this extra stress on the arm isn’t huge. But now that you’re questioning me and making me think about it, I don’t think I’ve heard House explain the mechanisms at play.

Some more follow-up questions:

What is the mechanism of action that causes the forearm to resist internal rotation based on the roll positioning of the wrist? (supination/pronation)

I am not aware of any study that supports this theory. If anything, an actively supinated wrist is more likely to have the forearm muscles contracted, which will reduce valgus stress (heavily documented, if you need sources let me know) and reduce arm speed.

I agree that pitchers who actively supinate into ball release are at risk for additional valgus extension overload damage. But a pitcher with a supinated wrist going into ball release will pronate over a longer period of time. The pitcher probably will not be actively contracting the pronator teres and pronator quadratus, but they will have some muscle activity. The pronator quadratus specifically holds the bones of the forearm together.

The video shown shows a pitcher actively supinating into MER and passively (possibly actively) pronating through ball release. It’s a similar pitch to Marshall’s Maxline Pronation Curve.

I believe the change in direction can be harmful too - specifically the thought of supinating into ball release (typically a poorly thrown slider or cutter would have this trait). However, the higher degree of supination, the more likely there will be elbow hyperextension, and thus valgus extension overload. The reverse is true as well; the higher degree of pronation, the greater the angle of the forearm (with respect to the humerus) becomes, and thus this (theoretically) lessens the valgus stress on the elbow.

Your comments are appreciated.