Curveball - Should I or shouldn’t I

There is a sister discussion going on with respect to youth health
and the curveball -. I really can’t comment
on this “should they or shouldn’t they”, because in order to do
so would mean presenting myself as a knowledgeable “youth
preventive injury” type – I am not.

I have however, asked a lot of youth pitchers, catchers, coaches
and even parents and other supporters this question:
When the curveball was called for from the bench, decided by
the pitcher’s battery mate, or self-elected by the pitcher
himself/herself, why? Was it to mix of the deliveries, deliver
to a batter who is known to go down to that pitch, or just toss
it because it was a pitch?

I found that in just about all cases, even high school varsity, AAU,
CYO, Legion, and there was no real game plan – just use it because
it was a pitch the pitcher had.

I will say this, the answers were answers – but, when I put the question
in a game plan scenario, the answer was less of an answer and more of
of response to witnessing the pitch itself.

So, if the discussion is about safe and health for youth baseball – I’m
out of that league. But, consider the education process for electing
the curveball (or any other pitch for that matter) being delivered in
the first place.

Coach B.

From my observation with youth baseball (9u - 14):

  1. Very few kids have a FB that they can throw past a good hitter. They need a 2nd pitch (i.e a curve) to keep the good hitters honest.

  2. Most kids don’t have a FB that they can throw past an average hitter. They need a 1st pitch (i.e a curve) to get an out

  3. Very few kids have a short swing and the patience to stay back and hit the slow breaking pitch (i.e the curve).

  4. Most kids have no chance against a good curve.

Therefore, the curve is king in youth ball. The LLWS illustrates the story.

Here’s what I hear from about 99% of the people we meet during a game when my son pitches: “If he had a curve, he’d be lights out.” Forget the fact he’s averaged 2.25 K’s/per inning last year with just the FB - and it didn’t matter what league or level of competition he was playing in. The perception is the curve is king, and a kid without a curve is nothing.

I understand when they get to HS, hitters stay back and smack the curve a long, long ways, so the FB is king. But we’re still two years away from HS ball, so my experience is limited to youth ball.

Thank you West2East, I’ve never looked at it that way. Makes sense – for effectiveness, great
satisfaction of actually seeing something work and the youngster has a good time to boot. And
your observation about the FB is a good one. Again, that is an outstanding observation and
perspective.

The next time I pull up a lawn chair and watch a youth game (14U), I’m going to keep your
comments in mind – I’ve been way too analytical, just because I’m used to it. Come to think
of it, I do remember thinking to myself why so many curveballs/slurves is this youngster tossing?

Coach B.

Thanks for the perspective West2East

In HS the slider and change are king. A kid can dominate with a fb over 90 but in the 80’s they can get by 6-9 hitters but the top of the order is touching it. I seldom see a “real” hook and I’m seeing a bit of varsity pitching at the Florida 5A level this year. If they do feature a hook it’s a show pitch and you see it once an inning maybe.
Guys look real bad up against a fair slide piece or a change that works.

The “throw the hook” thing is a tough call…kids throwing it are the studs and tend toward over-use so a competitive coach loves a wipe-out pitch and well too many hooks…no balance to the game plan, just get to two strikes and go to the hook…or good FB team…hey we’ll pitch backwards and triple the amount…
John you are right…no real game plan or sequencing or “showing”…of course in most instances the “coach” may not have much actual pitching coaching knowledge or experience.