Baseball has a reputation of being the Great American Pastime, and deservedly so. For well over a hundred years, people in the United States have flocked to local and national league games, enjoying the excitement and the competition, and probably a good many hot dogs as well.
What sometimes escapes the general populace and perhaps some of the baseball fans themselves is the level of skill and technique required to truly play your very best. A classic example of this would be the art of learning to throw a curveball.
One of the key elements of throwing an effective curve ball is mechanics. Many people think that throwing a curveball is nothing more than throwing a fastball, but with a slight twist. This is not the case. Should you attempt to emulate a curveball by using a slightly altered fastball technique, you not only run the risk of a weak throw, but repeated use of this approach can lead to shoulder and elbow problems.
There are several key factors in applying the correct mechanics to throwing a curveball:
First of all, start out by hiding your baseball in the palm of your glove. There is no need to advertise what type of pitch you are about to make. The same applies to your windup. Do not use it to advertise what you are about to do. Keep the batter guessing for as long as you can.
Pay attention to your grip. Because the middle finger of your throwing hand is going to be key in determining the speed, accuracy, and rotation of your curveball, make sure that the horizontal seam of the ball and your middle finger is lined up for the throw. This will automatically ensure that your index finger is also lined up with the seam and that your thumb is under the ball. Your ring finger and your pinkie should be tucked into your palm. This will help you control the pitch more effectively, and also put a good spin on your curveball.
Watch your body. Your stance and form will seriously impact the effectiveness of your throw. For your throwing arm, make sure that the elbow is at least level with your shoulder. It won’t hurt to have your elbow slightly higher than your shoulder, but be wary of too much height. An example of too high would be having your elbow level with the top of your ear. Not only will the extra height hurt your ability to focus the direction of your throw, but it also can lead to shoulder damage, because of the stress the angle puts on your shoulder muscles. Just as being too high, having your elbow too low when you release the ball can put extra stress on your elbow joints.
A curveball is meant to be thrown from close to the body. That means the ball will be closer to your ear than in many other types of throws. It also means that upon release, your throwing wrist should be hooked in such a way that it is facing toward your body and your arm should be in a position to naturally drop in front of your body once the release is complete.
Your stance works in conjunction with your grip, both before and through the release of the baseball. By having the ball relatively close to your body, you are allowing for greater friction between your middle finger and the seam on the ball, which in turn gives you more control over your spin.
Speed is a very important factor in your delivery. Curveballs with little speed are easily hit by the batter. Why? Any batter that is any good will seek to determine the particulars of the pitch and respond accordingly. The more time the batter has to gauge the speed and angle of the throw, the easier it will be to successfully launch your curveball into the outfield. Practice developing your speed as you master your form and stance.
Baseball is meant to be a lot of fun and provide exercise for the mind and the body. Like anything we choose to do, it is worth doing well. With a little time and effort, you can perfect a perfect stance and develop a great release, thus pitching curveballs that will delight your friends and family.