Step by Step: How to Throw a Curveball

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The curveball grip

The curveball grip is fairly simple and, unlike other pitches, allows a pitcher to maintain a good grip on the ball, and therefore, control.

The object of the pitch is for the ball to curve as it reaches the plate, breaking below the bat of the hitter.

The key to the pitch is putting topspin on the ball, which generates wind resistance with the laces and causes the pitch to drop.

  • Grip the ball with your middle and index fingers together, with the fingers across the seams of the ball at the widest part (the widest distance between the seams). Keep a tight grip on the ball, especially with the middle finger. Don’t let the ball touch the palm of your hand, or you won’t generate enough topspin, which is what allows the ball to drop when it gets close to home plate.

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Maintain secrecy

As it is with all of pitching, keeping your intentions secret is half of the battle. The curveball is a lot better if the hitter is expecting a fastball.

  • Keep the ball hidden in your glove when you're throwing, or you might tip off the batter (or a baserunner or base coach) what pitch you're throwing.

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The throwing motion

The mechanics for a curveball aren't much different from any other pitch. It's the grip, and what you do when you release the pitch, that is a change.

  • Wind up normally, and throw with the same speed as your fastball. Don't slow your arm down. The ball will slow down naturally when it encounters wind resistance with the curveball spin. The proper angle of your hand is important. Picture yourself doing the "tomahawk chop" with the baseball in your hand. For right-handed throwers, the palm of your hand should be facing first base as the ball goes over your head. For left-handers, reverse that. The palm of your hand should be facing third base.

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Ready to release

Keep your arm angle the same, or the batter might be able read your intention to throw a curve.

  • When throwing, keep your wrist cocked and rotated toward your body – the ball and the palm of your hand should be facing toward you. Keep your elbow up, turn your wrist and snap your wrist down as you release the ball. The ball won’t curve without the snap. It will require trial and error to find the correct release point.

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Follow through

The follow-through is important, because if you don't, the ball will likely "hang." That means it won't curve, it will likely stay high in the strike zone, and a good hitter could hit it a long way.

  • As you follow through, the back of your hand should be facing the batter. Your pivot foot (the one on the pitching mound) should continue to move forward, and let your throwing arm swing across your body, which will bring you into a balanced position for fielding.