Curveball safety: strength or mechanics?

Curveballs are always the focus of the “why pitchers get injured” discussion. Ive been wondering if the key to throwing a good curvelall safely, so that theres less risk of injury, has more to do with strength/maturity (like a pitchers age) or mechanics (the technique used).

Which one plays more a role in staying injury free instead of injury prone? [/u]

It could be both.
I remember when I discovered that I had a natural sidearm delivery—and what came attached to it: a pretty nice little curve ball. It was just there; this is something that happens once in a while. I had it, and so I set about seeing what I could do with it, and I found that I could get a nice break to it when I threw it with a karate-chop wrist snap—this too was something that just happened. My pitching coach told me that this sort of thing didn’t happen a lot, but because it was natural for me and I had no problems (even as a little snip I could throw hard), not to worry.

In my opinion I found a way to throw the curveball without pain. All i did was karate chop the things not supinate like most people say. So pretty much I know how to throw a curve but some people don’t’ which leads to injuries.

I actually just read this and thought of something that may be very interesting to think about.

Did you know that fastballs cause elbow pain, torn rotator cuffs, GIRD, HIRD, and a multitude of other issues with the body?

It’s true, if you think about it. If you had a guy who threw too much, eventually his body would be overstressed and become injured. If you have a guy with bad mechanics, he eventually gets injured as well.

The bottom line is, if we do not appropriately prepare ourselves for the stress that our bodies will receive, no matter what we will get hurt.

With injuries at a young age, people say it is a lack of physical maturity, at an older age, a lack of physical health/strength. I simply say that it is a lack of preparation. Preparation isn’t just mechanics, the gym, nutrition, etc. It is a combination of everything, how we eat, sleep, stretch, lift, throw, even think. If we prepared more often, we would find ourselves less unprepared. Call it a “yogi-ism” if you will.

So act like Roy halladay. He prepares for the game amazingly. He also throws sinkers, changeups and curveballs.

I’d probably go with age. I’ve always seen stuff about how pitchers should stay away from curveballs at a younger age.

I started pitching when I was around 14 and I’ve never been injuried throwing a curveball. I threw curveballs before I fully understood the meaning of mechanics. Really, all I do is turn my wrist in like a turning a door knob motion then pull down. I get a good break with the pitch as well.

Sliders should be the focus of the “why pitchers get injuried” discussion. That pitch is the reason why I had to rest for over 2 months. I still have some elbow pain to this day but I’m about 95% right now. I just made a mental mistake on the first slider I threw of the day I injuried my arm. I turned my arm too early.

Not trying to shift the conversation from curveballs to sliders but that’s how I see it.

Steven,

This is because curve balls are radically supinated (thumb rotating up by way of the forearm) causing the elbow to crash together ballistically. The same can be said of Sliders and Cutters unless these pitches are learned to be thrown pronated that is very easy for Sliders and Cutters but very difficult for Curves but can be done.
One of the biggest problems is the information available on this subject because when ever you see a study or article on it, the writers never speak of the differences between the two and only assume a curve can be thrown one way and with this one way they never mention the forearm action supination that causes all the problems. This must change for there to be good information on the subject.

This is purely a mechanical problem that with time (pitch counts) gets worse and worse to where you loose extension and flexion range of motion, severe inflammation and what appears to be triceps tendonitis (continually miss-diagnosed by Dr’s.) but is not, cartilage impingement that causes separations in the cartilage that later allows bone spur growths in the separation that then break off as loose impediments (bone chips) within the elbow.

This centrifuging effect of supination leads to the elbow heading down and across the chest at the recovery phase, levering the humerus against the ball arm side pectoralis major and puts considerable stress on the proximal (close to the shoulder) Humeral head growth plate (Little League shoulder) that is all correctable mechanically by changing all these pitches to pronated versions where the elbow pops up at release and recovery and the elbow hinges as it should.

Youth pitchers below 16 biological (when all elbow growth plates solidify) years old are much more susceptible to severe injuries in that when their undeveloped and softer bones are crashed together the epicondyle of the humerus and the capitulum of the Ulna can catastrophically degrade in to fragmenting and the growth plates can separate.

To throw a safe curve pitchers need to learn how to elevate their elbows, powerfully pronate their forearms and throw “inside of vertical” where the ball produces a 12/6 rotation or preferably attains overspin 11/5 rotation and have their elbows pop up at drive, release and maintain it through recovery.
There are some pretty good motor skill drills that teach this using football thrown end over end and bucket lids to get the mechanical feel. Here is how they are performed.

My comment would be that the younger the player, the less likely he would be to put the effort into throwing the pitch properly. In addition because his body isn’t fully matured then more than likely he wont have the ability to move his body in the way that is required to throw a curveball properly! An older, more mature pitcher may have the desire and ability to consider and cover the issues involved in throwing a pitch the right and wrong ways…you know the way I did when I was 12. I did it without consideration of how it was hurting me.

Hate to say this to you, but sliders, when thrown properly, have been proven to have less stress on the elbow than a curveball. You say you turn your hand like turning a door knob when throwing a breaking ball? I’ve worked with many professional pitchers and trainers and each of them says that is the most harmful way to throw a breaking pitch. I’ve already undergone Tommy John (my hands were too small to throw a splitter combined with a lack of ISR) and am about 90% and have not had any pain throwing my slider, a little discomfort but no pain with the curveball. My pain is actually from throwing a changeup as weird as that sounds

Hate to say this to you, but sliders, when thrown properly, have been proven to have less stress on the elbow than a curveball. You say you turn your hand like turning a door knob when throwing a breaking ball? I’ve worked with many professional pitchers and trainers and each of them says that is the most harmful way to throw a breaking pitch. I’ve already undergone Tommy John (my hands were too small to throw a splitter combined with a lack of ISR) and am about 90% and have not had any pain throwing my slider, a little discomfort but no pain with the curveball. My pain is actually from throwing a changeup as weird as that sounds[/quote]

Been throwing the same curveball for 3 years. Not once have I hurt my arm throwing it. If I was a right hander, I’d probably be throwing a 12-6.

I know sliders put less stress on your arm when thrown properly. If you’re not a long time pitcher that throws a lot of curveballs and sliders, you’re bound to make a mental mistake and turn your arm too early then boom, no turning back. You’re out for weeks or even months. I was borderline to getting TJ, took me almost 4 months to be 100%.

If anything, the slider is easier to throw and to control than a curveball. When you throw a slider correctly, there’s less strain on the arm and the shoulder because you don’t, among other things, snap your wrist—you just roll is, turn it over, much like a chef flipping a oancake or a crepe. I remember when I learned how to throw a good slider; the guy who would become my pitching coach demonstrated the grip (very much off-center, with the index and middle fingers very close together and the middle finger just touching one seam) and the wrist action (just turn it over, as I said). Because I was a sidearmer, I had an easier time of it. I got the hang of it in about ten minutes, but I realized that I wasn’t going to master the pitch overnight, and so I worked at it for several months. I finally got comfortable enough with that slider to try it in a game, and when I did so I struck out five of the eight batters I faced (I got the others on routine groundballs and a can of corn to the outfield).
The whole idea is to ease up on it and still throw with the same motion as the fast ball. 8) :baseballpitcher: