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.
Whether you're in the middle of a season, practicing in the off-season, or getting warmed up for another year, baseball pitching drills are an excellent way to perfect your technique, work on new pitches, and keep your muscles active and ready. But when you’re juggling school, hobbies, and other activities, you don’t always have time to hit the baseball diamond to practice on your own, and that’s when baseball pitching drills like these three can come in handy.
5. Release: Releasing a curveball is much different than releasing a fastball. A fastball release is straight out in front of your body. In effect, the way you release the ball is the type of action you want the pitch to have. When releasing a curveball, your wrist will be hooked and your hand will pull down in front of your body. It is important that you release the ball close to your body (Short Arm). The further you release from your body, the less resistance your middle finger will have on the seam and therefore your rotation will be looser. Loose rotation curveballs tend to spin or hang.
The athlete facing their partner will hold the KB Powerbands handle in one hand and raise their arm so their elbow is even with their shoulder and there is a 90 degree angle at the elbow. Athletes will move so there is tension on the resistance band and slowly rotate their hand forward, keeping the elbow and upper arm stationery. Athletes will perform a controlled motion for 4-5 seconds on the downward motion while maintaining a normal speed while returning to the starting position.
When thrown, try to manipulate the pitch to come off of the thumb-side of your index finger – NOT your index- and middle-fingers, as with a two-seam fastball – because a two-finger release will cause the pitch to balance out, which reduces the spin that you are looking for. Most good slider pitchers grip the outer-third of the baseball and cock their wrist slightly, but not stiffly, to their throwing hand's thumb-side upon release of the pitch. This enables a pitcher to apply pressure to the outer-half of the ball with the index finger. Avoid any twisting of the wrist upon release.
Throw this pitch with the same arm speed and body mechanics as a fastball, only slightly turn the ball over by throwing the circle to the target. This is called pronating your hand. (Think about this as giving someone standing directly in front of you a "thumbs down" sign with your throwing hand.) This reduces speed and gives you that nice, fading movement to your throwing-arm side of the plate.
[circle_list] [list_item]The drill should address and benefit at least two of these components (Balance and Timing, Timing and Power, Balance and Power, or all three).[/list_item] [list_item]The drill must not negatively impact any one of these components (for example, if a drill teaches balance, but hurts timing and power by having the pitcher pause and lose momentum, then it is counterproductive).[/list_item] [/circle_list]
Following the tuck jumps athletes will continue the youth pitching drill by performing alternating split jumps. Athletes will begin in a lunging position with one foot out in front of the other while maintaining a high chest. Athletes front leg should stay at around a 90 degree angle throughout the explosive pitching drill. From this starting position athletes will use an explosive upward arm action to help them explosively jump in the air and switch feet, athletes should land with the opposite foot forward. Continue this jumping and switching process for 3-4 resisted sets of 8-12 repetitions followed by 2-3 unresisted set of 8-12 reps.
Asking if a kid can see that slider spin is occurring is a common question I will bring up in lessons. Having a thought process and feeling with what they are doing is something that he or she can control and fix from throw to throw but it is not often taught. We like to have kids visualize and react to what is being said and into what is being felt. When trying to recognize the slider spin, the catcher should be able to see where the thrower is missing with his fastball. Seeing the ball out of the thrower’s hand and knowing that a slider has clockwise spin on the baseball you will be able to clearly tell that they released the ball wrong.
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Armando Galarraga threw sliders 38.9% of the time in 2008, more than any other starting pitcher in the majors, and Ryan Dempster threw them 32.9% of the time, more than any other NL starting pitcher. In 2008 CC Sabathia had the most effective slider, among major league starting pitchers. Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young award in 2009 in large part because of his slider, one of the better pitches in all of baseball. In 2011, Clayton Kershaw won the Triple Crown by allowing only a .117 average against his slider.
Another property of pitches is their break. Most commonly, that is the difference between their trajectory and that of a ball thrown with the same initial velocity, but no spin. As you may recall from earlier articles in this series, a basic fastball breaks up, while a basic curveball breaks down. A pitcher’s arm angle can modify these motions, so that a righthanded pitcher’s (RHP’s) fastball moves tends to move toward third base, as well as up.
B) Twist or snap your wrist: In this brief pitching video I explain this myth in greater detail. If you twist your wrist right before release of the baseball you will experience elbow problems in the long run. In fact, you will know that it is wrong to throw the ball like this to begin with because your arm will tell you it’s wrong. Why do pitcher’s continue to throw like this? Again, this method works for some pitcher’s because it does impart rotation on the ball. The wrong rotation, but pitchers find success with it so they continue to use it.
The arm action on this pitch is a little abbreviated at the end. Instead of getting a nice long arc of deceleration and finishing throwing elbow outside of your opposite knee (as with your fastball), you'll want to bring your throwing-hand elbow to the opposite hip. This, of course, shortens your follow through, but allows you to really snap off the pitch.
A great drill for working on curveball rotation is the snap drill. It can be done anywhere as long as you have a baseball. Take your curveball grip and snap your fingers, making the ball pop straight up from your hand. Really emphasize the pull-down your middle finger creates on the ball. As the ball rises out of your hand, you should see good vertical rotation and minimal horizontal rotation.