Adding to the air pressure exerted on the ball are the 108 red stitches that hold the cover on the ball. Because they are raised, the stitches increase the amount of friction created as the air passes around the ball and places more air pressure on top of the ball. A well thrown curveball can move as much as 17 inches either way. If you've ever seen a batter jump out of the way of a baseball that ends up crossing over the plate, you've seen a good curveball.
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Great baseball pitching is your team's first defense. So it's important your pitcher be their best. But while you may think good pitching involves natural talent, think again! There's no question that a laser lob calls for lots of balance, strength, agility, speed, and accuracy. With the right drills, any pitcher can accomplish that. Effective pitching is a learned art. Understanding the mechanics of pitching from the ground up, and choosing drills that fine-tune both the lower and upper parts of the body are sure to take your pitcher from average to ace!
The difficulty with this pitch isn't from the pitch itself. In fact, most pitchers feel this grip gives them the most rotation – and most movement – of any breaking pitch. However, many pitchers who are learning this pitch for the first time, aren't comfortable with the "tucking" part. It's not super comfortable at first to tuck your index finger into the baseball.
The pitcher is taking advantage of the Magnus Effect when throwing a fastball. The Magnus Effect is when a spinning sphere effects the air pressure around it. The side of the baseball spinning with the direction it is traveling moves against the air faster, creating more drag and pressure on the ball which causes the air to push on it. On the opposite side of the ball, air pressure is reduced which makes the ball travel easier in that direction when a spinning sphere effects the air pressure around.
Pitching is a connective chain of movements. As you put this into action, you will notice the prerequisites of staying behind the ball as they continue on to the next 2 steps as well. When you can stay behind the baseball, you will be in command of your pitches. When you see a pitcher falling underneath the baseball as a result of mechanical flaws, you know bad things are going to happen. Due to this mechanical breakdown, it is easy to foresee this before the ball even gets released. When you do this step correctly, you will execute #2 correctly.
A well-timed curveball can be highly beneficial to pitchers, but a curveball is pretty useless if the batter knows it's coming so that he or she has time to adjust to the swing. For that reason, it's important that pitchers not only master the grip and motion of the curveball but also the secrecy of the grip itself, which is necessary for fooling the batter.
If you’re interested in some more in-depth curveball training, I have a comprehensive program where I teach you how to master throwing a curveball. I’ve essentially put together a complete system for learning the right way to throw a true big league curveball. In this program, I’ll teach you the grip, delivery, drills, and how to integrate a curveball into your game. You’ll get access to a powerful step-by-step process for developing your curveball and learn exactly how to use your new curveball to dominate on the mound.
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The one-knee drill brings you more to the throwing position and allows you to work on your curveball without worrying about the lower half of your body. Once you and your partner have performed a dynamic warm-up, band work and stretched out your throwing distance, stand about 30 to 40 feet apart. Take a knee so your stride leg is in front and your hands are already separated, with the baseball in the throwing position.
It's been said that players pitch with their legs. There are a great deal of lower body mechanics that go into delivering a powerful pitch. According to Dr. John Bagonzi, former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, and author of The Act of Pitching, good mechanics begin with transferring energy from the lower body to the arm, and to the fingers. Here are a few tips to tap your pitching potential.
The pitcher must kick straight up and stay there for a count of 2 and then he has to reach back, while in the middle of his kick, and take a ball out of the hand of the person behind him. This will keep the pitcher from 'slinging' the ball and hurting his elbow, improves his balance point during his windup, and it keeps his hand on top of the ball during his windup.
Michael grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts, but rebelled against his parents by rooting for the Orioles (eventually, he came to his senses). After receiving his Ph.D. in Astronomy from UC Berkeley, he spent five years as a post-doc at Princeton working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He now lives in Rochester, NY, studying supernovae and listening to baseball games far too often.
3. Elbow: The throwing elbow must be equal to or slightly above the throwing shoulder. As soon as the pitcher lowers the elbow below the shoulder, they put additional stress on that arm. The angle of the elbow joint should be no more than 90 degrees. Pitchers who throw curveballs at angles greater than 90 degrees may put additional stress on their throwing shoulder.
Typically, it's only a good pitch if you've got bigger hands. That's because the pitch itself should be "choked" deep in the hand. This is how splitters get their downward movement. Your index and middle fingers should be placed on the outside of the horseshoe seam. The grip is firm. When throwing this pitch, throw the palm-side wrist of the throwing-hand directly at the target while keeping your index and middle fingers extended upward. Your wrist should remain stiff.
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.
Certain relief pitchers specialize in this type of slider. Known as “Lefty One Out GuYs” (LOOGYs) or “Righty One Out GuYs” (ROOGYs), they are brought into a game to face a dangerous same-handed batter. They usually feed the opponent a steady diet of these “runaway” sliders, tempting the batter to swing at a ball that looks like a strike – but isn’t.
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.
Snap the release. Keep your palm facing inward to your body, and release the ball as you step forward with the opposite foot. The ball should be out of your hand shortly after it passes your head. As your arm comes down from the throw, snap it toward the opposite hip. Twist your thumb upward and your middle finger downward to put a spin on the ball.
The difference between a slider and curveball is that the curveball delivery includes a downward yank on the ball as it is released in addition to the lateral spin applied by the slider grip. The slider is released off the index finger, while the curveball is released off the middle finger. If the pitcher is snapping his wrist as he throws, and the movement is more downward than sideways, then he is probably throwing a curveball or slurve, and not a true "slider".
Ok, so I know this whole page has the best baseball pitching drills on it, but out of this whole page, these are my two most favorite drills. The first is the wall drill and the second is the rocker drill. The second drill in this video is the same as Stevie’s favorite pitching drill that you’ll see below, but I go into a little further detail on how to perform this pitching drill correctly in this video. Check it out!