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One of the biggest issues pitchers have when they begin throwing a curve is changing their fastball mechanics. Don’t! Throw the curveball, or any other pitch, using the same arm slot and arm speed as your fastball. The only thing that changes is wrist and forearm angle. With the curveball your wrist and forearm angle look like a “karate chop”. To get an effective rotation on the ball, released the ball late. The curve will squirt or hang when you release it early or you don’t keep your glove in front of you at release. I explain this in greater detail in the you tube video below.
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.
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Don't worry about wrist motion; keep your wrist firm and worry about the angle of your arm. This will maximize bottom-left break if you are a right-handed pitcher. The side of your hand should always face the batter, and your wrist should always finish at your left hip (again, right-handed). Also, try to aim at the left shoulder of a right handed batter, as this is a good aiming spot for the break to be efficient. For more information, you can refer to this article: How to Throw a Curveball.
Strictly speaking, a curveball breaks more in the vertical plane than horizontally. Curveball masters can throw a “12–6” (think clock), purely vertical and do it anywhere from 70–90mph. More commonly, the ball drifts from 1–7ish, 2–8ish. If a ball breaks more laterally (horizontally), ie. 3–8, then it’s a slider, but thrown faster than a curve (80mph territory). If it just breaks laterally at more or less fastball speed (80–90), then it’s a cutter.
To start, righties should take their sign from their catcher from the right side of the rubber, lefties from the left (No. 1). Take a controlled, small step back keeping the weight of the upper body over the pivot leg (No. 2). Turn your hips to the catcher and lift your lead leg from the knee into the balance position (No. 3). Do not swing the lead leg into the balance position, it's simply a "lift."
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.
To throw a curveball, start by holding the ball between your thumb and middle finger. Then, as you wind up and throw the ball, snap it on the release by rotating your thumb and middle finger down, almost like you're trying to snap with them. Try to release the ball as close to your body as possible, which will make it spin and curve more. Don't worry if the ball doesn't curve at first. Keep practicing the snapping motion when you release the ball and over time you'll get better!
Grip the ball. The knuckle curveball is similar to other grips, but the variable this time will be your index finger. Grip the ball with your middle finger along the bottom seam, and your thumb along the back seam. Hold the baseball such that the curves of the seams are close to your palm, with one on top and one on the bottom of your palm. Bend your index finger inward before laying it on the ball so that your nail and top knuckle are resting on the ball and your middle knuckle is pointing at the target.
For the second phase of this shoulder prevention pitching drill one athlete will continue facing forward while the opposite athlete turns to face their partner. Athlete facing their partner will be performing the should prevention portion of this phase of the pitching drill while partner the facing forward will be focused on strengthening their core.
Pitchers and catchers stand at regulation distance from each other. The catcher stands behind home plate, and a batter stands in the batter's box. The batter should alternate between a left-and right-handed batting stance after five pitches, but not take any swings. The catcher calls balls and strikes. Have the batter wear a helmet in this practice session.
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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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.
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.
Now, the "markings" he will have on the mound should create an imaginary letter "H" if one looks from the side. The pitcher then goes through his entire delivery (with or with out throwing the baseball at the end of the motion) and looks to see where his front foot lands in relation to the two lines he has etched out in the dirt. He can use either his full or set wind-up in this drill. Did the pitcher land the length of his height? Did the pitcher stride in a straight line toward his target? If not, a pitcher should perform this drill 50-times a day without throwing the baseball.