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Friday, July 9, 2010

Pitching Grip - How to Throw a Curveball

Fastpitch Pitching Grip - How to Throw a Curveball Effectively
By Guest Author Dan Gazaway

When is the best time to throw the curve? When you are ahead of the count with one or two strikes on the batter or surprise the batter by throwing it your first pitch. I only recommend throwing the Curveball the first pitch if you have excellent command and can throw it for a strike. You always want to start the count in your favor.

You can throw the Curveball one of two ways as far as the location of the pitch is concerned. One, you can start the Curveball out in the strike zone and throw it into the dirt hoping the batter will fish for it. Or two, you can start it out as a ball and have it drop into the strike zone. If the batter doesn't swing, it is a strike, and if he does he misses it or grounds out. I prefer the ground out personally so I can throw fewer pitches per inning. When a starting pitcher performs, he should plan on throwing the whole game if he is on a five day rotation; first pitch ground outs are ideal for me.

Before we cover how to grip the Curveball, it is important to note that a pitcher should always pull the curve from his glove. This is important because it ensures that the wrist and forearm are aligned on each pitch for consistency. For example, while throwing a fastball a pitcher should bring his thumbs down, out of the glove so the ball ends up facing second base at the equal and opposite position. The Curveball should be pulled from the glove with the palm of your hand facing toward your body.

Curveball Grip

To grip the Curveball, place your index and ring finger on the seams opposite of the thumb. The thumb and middle finger should split the baseball in half. Apply some pressure on your thumb and middle fingers. Your index finger should simply rest on the ball next to the middle finger. I teach pitchers that are just learning this grip to slightly raise their index finger off the ball to ensure they don't apply pressure with it.

When throwing this pitch, make sure you maintain solid fastball mechanics. One, you don't want to tip the batter so he will know you are throwing something other than a fastball by changing mechanics. You also want to keep the same arm speed and arm angle with the curve. The only thing that changes is wrist and forearm angle. At release, avoid snapping your wrist. The ball rolls off your index finger while spinning the ball with your thumb and middle finger.

A fact about the Curveball: Hitters can hit a "good" Curveball, but they struggle hitting a "great" Curveball. A great Curveball deceives the batter and drops aggressively in the end. Keep practicing so that you will be one of the great Curveball pitchers.

Curveball tip #1: Ensure that your fastball mechanics are in order before learning a curve. Also, to make sure that the ball doesn't squirt on you, finish the pitch with your glove in front of you, not on the side of your body. Refer to your Pitching Mechanics DVD if you are not sure what we mean by that.

Curveball tip#2: Coaches and parents need to monitor how many Curveballs a young athlete throws, especially when the pitch really begins to work for him. Pitcher's who throw the curveball well and experience great success with it, tend to overuse the pitch. The ratio of pitches thrown should be 15-20% Curveballs regardless of how effective your curve is.

Dan Gazaway is owner and founder of The Pitching Academy in Utah. He has instructed over 1,000 students in the area of pitching mechanics and the mental aspect of competitive pitching. Coach Gazaway received his coaching certification through The National Pitching Association in San Diego. Dans latest projects include creating a Pitching Mechanics DVD and e-book and placing them on his Pitching Academy website. Coach Gazaway also instructs thousands of pitchers about proper pitching workouts which include pre-season training as well as pitching workouts relating to off-season conditioning.

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Hello Softball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick