What should the wrist be doing while throwing a curve/slider

I contend that the wrist should only be used as an extension of the forearm. In other words, I let my forearm do all the supinating, I don’t curl, snap or wrap my curve or slider. I’ve read time and time again that this technique leads to injury. Clarification from the experts here at LTP would be greatly appreciated.

I was told by my pitching coach to make the same motion as if you were turning a doorknob. However I just twist my fingers in the same direction as they would with the doorknob technique but there isn’t as much wrist twisting.

Here’s what this old sidearmer used to do. My pitching coach advised me to throw the curve ball with a sharp downward wrist snap, almost like a karate chop. For the slider, you throw it like a curve but roll your wrist, don’t snap it. It’s that simple—just turn it over. I found that the slider is actually easier on the arm and shoulder. 8)

Correct. The end result of such form - is that your entire body does nothing different, when compared to your other inventory of pitches. Same leg motion, same torso motion, semi-same shoulder platform … HOWEVER… at the last moment of your release phase … this detail, as explained above, adds the true signature to your report 60’ away.

Now, let’s widen that signature just a bit to give it the desired result.

Delivering these two pitches requires a LOT OF PERCEPTION ability on your part. And with PERCEPTION comes a reference point that works for you 50% - 80% of the time. By the way, I used that % as a realistic expectation due to the nature of a long learning curve with these two pitches.

So here’s what I suggest. Face your catcher and pick a spot on him - face mask, left shoulder - right shoulder … anything. Now start working your selected pitch - slider/curve, and see how it works. Don’t change that spot, keep pitching DIRECTLY AT IT… not to it, but, DIRECTLY AT IT.

If you get the kind of results that seems reasonable and you approve of the balls performance, then mark that in a notebook. Then, pick another spot … like the catchers other shoulder, keen, etc., and repeat the routine. But, be aware that you’ll get slightly different results with practicing off a flat surface then a sloping surface (mound).

The point to be made here is that we as pitchers are constantly looking for ways to reference our work and stick to it. Be deliberate in all your work … find references that’ll draw your attention span when your trying to develop. This by the way, is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.

Good question with a lot of thought behind it.

Coach B.


In my opinion you are on the right track. The NPA stresses the importance of keeping a consistent wrist and forearm angle throughout the pitch with no manipualtion througout the delivery.

For instance the fastball is delivered palm forward, fingers behind the ball. The curveball is delivered palm-in 90 degrees from the fastball- sort of in the karate chop manner Zita mentioned. Based on these two extremes the order of pitches starting with fastball- based on a slightly changing wrist/forearm angle- would be fastball-cutter-slider-slurve-curve. As you progress from fastball to curve you are trading force behind the ball for force around, or on the side of the ball, increasing spin and reducing velocity.

The NPA teaches to “pre-set” the wrist/forearm angle in the glove prior to delivery. As you are learning you would set your curveball angle 90 degrees to your fastball angle in the glove and then go through your motion with no wrist/forearm manipulation. By pre-setting you are taking the potentially harmful forceful supination out of the picture since the supination takes place prior to delivery. Once set you just maintain the pre-set wrist/forearm angle through delivery.

Game situations are a little different. You can’t be pre-setting each pitch in your glove or you run the risk of tipping pitches. In this case, once you’ve learned the feel of the proper wrist/forearm angle you can supinate to this postiion as the ball comes out of the glove.

In my opinion the problem with most curve balls comes from forceful supination late in the delivery that then interferes with natural pronation-such as “twisting the doorknob”. With the NPA method supination is taken out of the picture, or it happens during a much less stressful point in the delivery.

Thanks a lot JP. You just reinforced my philosophy but put it much better. It’s good to know that I’m on the same page with other pitching minds since I had to pretty much teach myself everything I know.

And thanks to Coach B. You have the ability to express in words the kind of stuff I’m thinking in my head. Except in my head there are holes and question marks that need addressing and your posts usually help me with that. I guess that’s one reason you’re a coach. BTW I made a special folder on my desktop for all the cool pics and diagrams you tend to post in this forum.

I’m not an expert, but I’ve been told that this exactly the motion you want to avoid. It’s also not that effective, as in order to throw a 12-6 curve you need to give the ball 12 - 6 rotation. The doorknob twist gives the ball a 12-3 rotation, which results in a “power curve” or slurve-type pitch. To throw that you don’t actually need to rotate the wrist at all - just the karate chop described above will do the trick. To get a 12-6 rotation, the movement of the wrist should be more like pulling a string to turn on a light.

I agree with JP.

I also agree with quaff but for health reasons. Supinating into release is harder on the arm than is maintaining a preset supinated angle.

My theory is this: supinate as early as possible without tipping the pitch.

I pronate through the pitch during release. Is this the “snap” that is referred to?

When I read about breaking pitches, the source referred to the snapping as the straightening of the wrist from a curled or “wrapped” position. The book said that some coaches teach this technique in order to help young pitchers get more break but it’s a big injury risk.
This book didn’t actually say anything about supination or pronation. Well, actually it did, the author just never used those words. He simply used pictures, diagrams and descriptive metaphors to explain supination and pronation.
So in short, my answer is no. Pronation through release is not the snapping I was personally referring to. However, I cannot speak for everyone else.