Throw the ball at half of regular speed to your partner when practicing. A really important part of throwing a curveball is ensuring that you get the direction of the spin correct and that you can repeat this at least 80% of the time. As such, throwing at half your regular speed is a good halfway point to get your action started but to minimize the variables you have to battle.
Bruce Sutter, one of the best splitter pitchers in the history of the game, says that it is very important to put your thumb on the back seam, not the front seam. This puts the ball out front just a bit more than a fork ball. Then, he says, you just throw a fastball. A very sophisticated and misunderstood point is that the split-fingered fastball should be thrown with back spin just like a two-seam fastball. But in a Roger Kahn / Bruce Sutter interview in Kahn's book, The Head Game: Baseball Seen from the Pitcher's Mound, he points out that this is not the case.
A slider is a breaking pitch that is thrown faster and generally with less overall movement than a curveball. It breaks sharply and at a greater velocity than most other breaking pitches. The slider and the curveball are sometimes confused because they generally have the same purpose — to deceive the hitter with spin and movement away from a pitcher's arm-side. (When a pitch seems to toe the line between the two, it is referred to in slang as a "slurve.")
This drill is a pitching drill in which the young pitcher works at a smooth, rather fast pace, but only throw 50-60%. He should not be allowed to throw full speed. The objective of the drill is to teach concentration and develop great control. The pitcher has to throw 20 strikes before he throws 4 balls. He should be allowed to perform the drill at a shorter distance at first but he should be able to move to his regular pitching distance within a couple of weeks. If he throws 4 balls, he must start over. Be careful to not overwork him. However, keeping the distance short, emphasizing accuracy not speed, and making sure he proper stretches and warms up should prevent any chance of arm injury. With younger players you may want to make the drill a 10-3 drill. He must throw 10 strikes before he throw 3 balls or he must start over.
Coach Phil grew up in Rye, NY where he graduated from Rye Country Day School before heading to Northwestern University on a baseball scholarship. Phil was drafted by Major League organizations on three separate occasions: first by the Detroit Tigers as a High School Senior, then following his Junior year at Northwestern by the Atlanta Braves, and finally by the Cleveland Indians after his graduation in 1999.Most recently, Phil pitched for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. His years of pro experience and his commitment to studying the art (and science) of pitching give him a real understanding of what it takes to be a successful pitcher at any level.
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Two pitchers sit, with legs crossed, about 20-30 feet from each other. The receiver puts his glove in front of his face as the target. The thrower must hit the target without the ball bouncing, and with minimal rocking motion. This will require the elbow to be above the shoulder, and a good rotation of the shoulders to just get it there, thus teaching good technique.
I hope you enjoyed and learned something from this compilation of the best baseball pitching drills. I suggest that if you haven’t already, check out my Pitching Mechanics page. It’s where I break down a lot of the proper mechanics in the pitching delivery. You should also check out my pitching program if you’re interested in throwing faster and more accurate.