Curveball Mechanics

I am not planning to throw a curve anytime soon, but I have a question. How do you throw a curveball? Do you make an L with your arm, or is it all in the wrist?

DO NOT snap your wrist. I’ve got a pretty darn good sweeping curve and I don’t use my wrist any differently than when throwing any of my other pitches. Come to think of it, I don’t use my wrist at all to throw anything.

The idea is to throw “around the ball”. Find a grip you like, horse shoe in or out or the narrow part of the seam whatever. Use your FOREARM to cock your hand clockwise (to the right if your right handed, opposite if youre a lefty of course. Make sure that your wrist/hand are extending straight out from your arm as if you could draw a line from your elbow right through your middle finger. If it was a slider you were throwing follow these guidelines and release it like a fastball. But for the curve again, the idea is to throw around the ball making sure to put pressure on the seam with your middle finger to get topspin.

Maybe some of the science behind the pitch will help…

Topspin creates air pressure that’s higher on top of the ball and lower below, pushing the ball down , causing it to drop off the table. This is why lateral break depends on arm angle. If you drop your arm angle your going to create that pressure closer to the side of the ball causing it to break more horizontally. Your fastball doesn’t fall out off the sky because it’s got that high pressure below it.

But the important thing to remember whenever it’s time to throw a curve or slider is not to cock, curl or snap your wrist. I guarantee you’ll hurt yourself eventually if you do this. Twist your forearm when you release. Even doing this bangs a tendon against the back of your elbow. This is why Mike Marshall likes to instruct people to pronate to get the same result. I think it’s harder to execute breaking pitches that way but I’m sure some can do it with ease.

So at release, should it look like this?

If that’s a comfortable grip than yeah. I’ll send you my grip sometime soon here when I get a chance.

Two main things here:

  1. The straight wrist. A lot of young pitchers think that curling or snapping the wrist will produce more break. All that will produce is an injury. Maybe not immediately but for sure at some point.

  2. The spin. In this pic the index finger appears to be applying the pressure to the seam. I like to use my middle finger but either way works. Also I like to make sure that an invisible line could be drawn connecting the tip of my middle finger and my thumb. As long as you’ve got a finger pushing down toward the ground on a seam at release it should give you what your looking for.

It’s just going to take some messing around.
I’m gonna try and get pics of my slider and curve grips at release to you in a few minutes here.

Ok I just gripped a ball like the photo you posted and definitely yes. If that’s a comfortable grip and your applying pressure to get that topspin you should be good. Just be careful.

Ok this time I grabbed a ball and went outside to actually throw a curve with the grip in the pic. The only problem I encountered was having my thumb on that much seam made it hard to let the ball slip more freely out of my hand.
Are you sandwiching the seam between your index and middle fingers?
I would try to make sure you at least get one or both of them behind it.

Hmm, I think the grip in the pic would give more control for curveball, more spin but less speed, whereas for slider I will use middle finger instead

That’s Barry Zito’s curve. Yes it’s an Uncle Charlie, not a hammer.

There’s more than one way to carve a turkey.

I don’t like putting my thumb on that much seam because for me to get my curve over, I really need to let the ball almost slip out of my hand. That’s what I mean by throwing around the ball. But again, different strokes for different fokes and there are certainly people who would not throw it my way, but my curve can definitely be a big sweeping nasty yakker piece of junk for a hitter that I can throw for a strike consistently.

did somebody say hammer?? I’m right here!

I beg to differ when it comes to snapping your wrist, spin should be imparted with the wrist, not the elbow.

Sorry Hammer. I didn’t mean you. I meant a hard curve. 8)

Some comments about the picture. I would like to see, at release anyway, your wrist to be more of a straight line coming from your forearm. This being said the tips of your fingers are going to be on the ball as well. So, once you are at this point of extension you are going to pronate through the release so that the ball will end up rolling off of your INDEX finger. Remember not to supinate too much thats a lot of stress on the elbow.

That’s Zito’s curve. I don’t throw a curve.

Its the same release with both pitches its just the extent you turn the wrist towards your head.