The history of baseball remembers Mike Cuellar as one of the greatest curveball pitchers ever. While this tutorial will unlikely get you anywhere near to his level, it will explain how this particular toss is done. Before we get to the mechanics, it must be said that throwing a curveball can lead to injury if done wrong. Especially kids should not attempt this particular throw, as it can be very damaging. Anyone serious about learning this art of pitching is advised to consult a professional before doing so. Below you will find a comprehensive tutorial on how to throw a simple curveball.
Firstly, you must grip the baseball with the index and middle fingers in a fashion that allows them to be positioned across the seams of the ball. A tight grip is crucial, especially with your middle finger. The ball should never touch the palm of your hand, as this will prevent you from creating enough topspin. The ball spin will create a high-pressure area above it and cause the distinct drop in elevation near the plate.
In order to achieve an element of surprise, you must keep your intentions a secret. Keep the ball hidden in your glove as long as possible, so your opponent won’t sense your pitch and prepare to bat accordingly. The curveball mechanism is not all that different from any other pitch. What essentially makes the difference is the grip and what you do when you release the ball.
When you are ready, wind up normally, and start off the movement of the throw regularly (as you would do when throwing a fastball). It’s important that you don’t slow down your arm, as the ball will significantly decelerate due to the wind resistance of the curve spin. Maintaining a proper angle of your pitching hand is of great importance. You need to imagine yourself doing the “tomahawk chop”, but with a baseball in your hand. If you are a right-handed thrower, your palm should be facing first base. As far as left hand dominant people are concerned, their palm should be facing third base.
While throwing, it’s vital to keep the wrist cocked and rotated towards yourself. Both the palm of your hand as well as the ball should be facing your body. Keep your elbow up, turn and snap your wrist down as you release the ball. This last bit is absolutely necessary, as the ball won’t curve if neglected or done incorrectly.
The best way to get it right is by continuous practice. It is rare for anyone to get it right at the first attempt. Oftentimes it requires a lot of trial and error to find the optimal point of release. Your entire body movement has to be perfected for this throw. This tutorial is meant to help you in achieving a curve ball. Oftentimes it will be beneficial for you to get a friend to video tape your throws, so you may study yourself in slow motion afterwards and perfect your throw. Most people serious about learning this art of pitching, would be well advised to get some one on one coaching from a professional.