Do you really need a curve?

Is a curve really necessary if you have good command of a fastball, cutter and changeup?

If your other pitches are plus pitches, no. Maddux throws one every once in a while, what it comes down to is, are your other pitches enough? At the High School level, a fb, cutter and change may be enough, taking it further, will depend on the coach and school you attend. Some schools require the curve to be thrown.

Thanks for the quick reply. To further the post…my son is a junior in high school and in the past his curveball has been an effective pitch. Although to me his mechanics appear to be almost the same as the fastball, he has to take something off the pitch to throw it for strikes. He was throwing it with the index only on the seam, and the ball has a slight rise out of his hand, and is typically slower than his changeup.

I recently took him to a showcase/camp this fall and, although it was effective during his outing, one of the coaches said that his curve ball needs to have a harder break. He has been working on throwing it harder, but does not have the same control. With 2 fingers on the seam, the pitch definately comes in harder, but does not have much of a break.

The cutter and changeup are very good off-speed pitches but in case there is a day when they are not working as well, he would like to be able to throw a curve. Any ideas?

“The cutter and changeup are very good off-speed pitches but in case there is a day when they are not working as well, he would like to be able to throw a curve. Any ideas?”

Well two things…first it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that it doesn’t go for strikes…More important specifically at this age that he just lets another pitch get seen to keep them off balance. My take is you should allow him to “bring it along”…develop it over time. Second it is something to think about as far as mechanically, to work to throw the pitch starting it as a fastball behind and when it gets to the front pulling it down (I lke middle finger on the seam). From your description it sounds like he’s spinning it (May or not be true), bad to spin…it is generally the short cut method to get break, but way too many down side issues to continue to allow it to be thrown that way.
As far as control, the curve is best thrown through the catchers mitt instead of spinning to get break, this is why many younger kids have such a hard time getting it to go for strikes…they concentrate on trying to get it to break…thrown correctly it will break and break nice…for a strike.
He’s young, has much time and apparently other good pitches that work…so don’t attempt to rush it…Many people think he’s too young to throw it.

The pitch that your concerned about is a good pitch - but there is a lot more in the mix with respect to coaching a youngster. A coach has to know a lot about the talent level of who the young man is, the resources to support the time devoted to instruction.

I’m not a big fan of watching youngsters under the age of 18 leaning and applying the curve ball. If a youngster can control the pitch, understands its purpose and is supported with proper health issues … then so be it.
However, with 99% of all youth baseball that I’ve seen over the last 32 years … winning is name of the game. Kids are disposable - but the brag’g rights of adults comes first.

It’s probabily different where you live. And that’s a good thing.

However, to help you with your question, here’s what I do when… and only when… I have a pitcher with the maturity to understand and discipline himself with the basics of this pitch.

I place a pole with multi color squares about ten feet off to throwing side of the mound. I place another pole, again with multi colored squares off to throwing side of the player… but in the batter’s box, usually on the same side of the pitchers throwing arm.

The colored squares are “bench marks” for marking release points and the witness of the results. The pole off to the side of the mound is to guide the pitcher with testing various release points… then the pole at the plate gives witness to that result. After every pitch, the player marks in a notebook what happended and why. Grip, body posture, mound condition and so forth goes into the notebook. A graphic representation of this is below:

As I said at the start, so much goes into the instruction and practice phase of the curve ball that it’s usually a stretch for a youngster under 18.
However, I’m sure many kids have practiced and perfected the pitch on their own or with some sort of coaching. It’s been my experience that when I have a pitcher who comes to my attention with a curve ball, a lot of deconstruction takes place and a lot of bad habbits are hard to break.

By the way, as a side note – does your son or your family have a particular college in mind? If so, see what their roster is made up of. Try and find out the “favorite” pitch selection that this institution looks for. Some favor striaght-out heaters, while others want some sort of mix–but only when those “other” pitches are performed with an 85% effectiveness rate. Why? Because it all depends on what history these coaches have brought with them from other institutions or what their recruitment area is.

Best wishes to you and your son.

Coach B.

On the top bar of this web site there is a block called “Pitching Articles”. If you click on to that you’ll be directed to a list of topics - one of which is an excellent description of “10 different grips”.
Scroll down till you come to Steve’s “beginners curve ball”. It will get your son off on the right foot. Also, while he’s planning to try this, you and he should reserve about an hour to kind of “toss the ball around” to get use to the idea of this pitch in flight. Start off with about eighty feet between you both… and have your son gently …POP the ball out of his hand/grip.
The ball should have a nice easy arc to it and then its seams and rotation should take effect. Below is a grip that I start all my pitchers off with after Steve’s grip for beginners is tried for a while. Notice in the picture how the pitcher has to concentrate on different disciplines of the hand.

After a while the rest of the body comes into line with the most important part — rotating the shoulders around, exchanging the glove shoulder with the pitching shoulder. At the end, the pitching shoulder should be be pointing directly at the catcher with the pitching hand at – or accoss the glove side of the stride knee. And try and have a pitching coach standing with both of you if you can to point out other refinements. I might add, YOUTUBE has some pretty good stuff on curve balls.

Best wishes to you and your son.

Coach B.

FWIW, I teach the curve to be thrown with the same mechanics as the fastball, same arm slot, same arm speed, and same trajectory out of the hand (tunneling) for maximum deception.

Same arm speed and same trajectory means the pitch is thrown a bit harder but the break happens later which makes things really difficult for batters.


Many pros do just fine without them.

curveball is not necessary, but if you can throw a quality breaking pitch safely, why wouldn’t you? if you can get the breaking ball to look like a fastball and not pop up out of the hand, that is the best breaking pitch you can throw.

take electrical tape and tape around the equator of the ball at the 4 long seams. when you can get that tape to form a straight line when you spin the ball out of your hand you are getting close. you can do this at home sitting in chair to practice proper spin till you get it.