Another more advanced variation of the curveball is the knuckle curveball (sometimes called a spike curve). This is the curveball grip that I used. Thrown the same way as my beginners curveball only you'll tuck your finger back into the seam of the ball. Your knuckle will now point to your target instead of your index finger (in the beginners curve).
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.
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.
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.")
Jeff Gordon has been reporting and writing since 1977. His most recent work has appeared on websites such as eHow, GolfLink, Ask Men, Open Sports, Fox Sports and MSN. He has previously written for publications such as "The Sporting News" and "The Hockey News." He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism in 1979 with a bachelor's degree.
As you improve, you can make this drill harder by making it a bull’s-eye practice. Seated as you were at the same distance apart, take turns pitching to each other again, but this time, the catcher will sit with her glove in front of her face, protecting her head. The pitcher should aim for the glove, focusing on proper shoulder rotation and keeping her elbow above the shoulder.
In the stride phase of the pitching motion, a pitcher should be able to draw an imaginary line from the heel of his back foot, through the ball of his stride foot, and onward to the target. Keeping the lower body aligned in a straight line closes a pitcher's hips, directs the shoulders, and allows the throwing arm to reach the "high cock phase" of its arm path in the back of the pitcher's body. Additionally, if a pitcher lands too far to the glove-side of his body, he will open the shoulder too soon. This causes the pitch to be low and outside while creating stress on the arm and reducing velocity. If a pitcher lands too far to the throwing-side, he will inevitably have to throw across his body making the outside part of the strike zone difficult to hit. Plus, if a pitcher throws across his body, he creates an increased amount of stress on the arm.
It is the direction of the spin axis that determines the break of the ball. A perfectly horizontal axis – corresponding to perfect backspin – would yield a fastball with perfect vertical rise. However, most pitchers tilt the axis slightly. For right-handed pitchers, the fastball breaks upward and toward third base. The opposite is true for left-handed pitchers: Their fastballs move up and toward first base.
Athletes will begin the pitching drill by standing at one Speed and Agility Cone, raise their inside foot and balance on the outside foot (athlete lined up on left side raise right foot, balance on left foot). From this single leg position athletes will slightly bend the knee and explosively jump laterally toward the opposite Speed and Agility Cone. Athletes should try to keep a good body position by not allowing the hips, shoulders, or chest to rotate at any point during the jump or landing. Athletes should also not allow the chest to lean forward during the pitching drill. Athletes will land the jump on the opposite leg they jumped with, balancing on the landing leg while raising the opposite knee in a pitching motion. Athletes will then balance on their outside leg (same leg which they landed on) and explosively jumping back toward the original Speed and Agility Cone.
There’s really just one curveball grip, with a number of different, slight variations. Basically, the curveball a 12-year old throws is the same as most Major Leaguers, but the main difference is execution. As we discussed already, this execution is in the type of spin we apply. Major Leaguers apply topspin, little leaguers apply a sloppy mixture of slow sidespin and topspin.
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The drill is used to develop great pitcher control by having the pitcher throw strikes at varying distances. The drill has a catcher set at a stationary plate. The plate never moves. The pitcher should begin throwing at a distance 1/2 of his normal pitching distance. You should have 6-8 distance markers with the first being at his starting point and the longest being twice his normal pitching distance. The markers should be at 10 foot intervals and in a straight line with the plate. The object of the drill is to develop control by gradually moving toward and away from the targeted strike zone. The pitcher is required to throw 1-3 strikes from each marker before moving to the next. The catcher serves as the umpire. Variations of this drill may be to have 1-3 pitchers working and competing against each other. The drill teaches them to work fast, concentrate, and execute a perfect pitch. Make sure your pitchers are in condition for this drill. They will find that throwing strikes from longer distance requires great mechanics and builds arm strength. Make sure your players stretch and warm-up first.
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.
In this video I answer some questions about the King of the Hill Pitcher’s Trainer, one of which was “what type of pitching drills can you do on the King of the Hill?”. If you like the King of the Hill, and I definitely suggest this product for pitchers of all ages, then you can check it out at King of the Hill. I really love this product because it teaches pitchers how to properly and efficiently get the most energy out of their legs.