Saturday, June 8, 2019

Baseball 101: 5 Tips to an Effective Curveball

When I was younger and at my prime, I prided myself on being a smart pitcher.  I knew what I could do, I knew what was working on any given day -- even sometimes what was popping nicely in a particular inning -- and then I would analyze the batter's stance, where he was in the box, contrast that with the count, how many outs, who was on base and where... only then would I pick what pitch to throw and where to throw it.  I was constantly thinking on the mound from the moment I got the ball, to my circular path around and behind the mound, to the point that I stepped up on the rubber and then went into my approach to the plate.  Being a smart pitcher is your biggest asset.

Here are some tips to help you "Be Smart" with your curveball!

1. Grip does not matter!  You can hold your curve in a million different configurations - the grip is not the key.  Instead, remember to use the grip that is most comfortable for you -- the key is release angle and wrist action.

2. Squeeze it!  We all know that spin rate is key to an effective curveball.  The key to that is squeezing the heck out of your middle finger and thumb!  When you squeeze, it helps firm up your wrist.  A firm wrist is essential to snap it off and get good spin.  If you are "floppy" in your release, you will have a tendency to get under the ball and leave it up in the zone.  That's bad. (Yes, I said that in my Homer Simpson voice.)

3. Throw in the strike zone.  Ideally, your curve will start in the zone and break out of the zone (across or down).  We want the hitters swinging at the pitch, not dumbfounded.  We want them fooled, not amazed.  When they are fooled it elicits weak contact.  The point of the curve is to get a pop-up or ground ball, not a called strike.  This is what they mean by "expanding the zone."

4. Miss low.  Don't fret over a curveball that breaks into the dirt.  That's where you want it.  The alternative is a potential long ball.

5. Hit the dirt like you mean it.  Did you bounce that last one in?  Who cares - throw it again!  Never be afraid to be back to the well on a pitch down.  Most pitchers throw a curve in the dirt, think "that's not where I wanted that" and get scared.  So they throw a "redemption fastball" up in the zone.  If you have an inexperienced hitter, he might let it go by.  Odds are, he saw that curve in the dirt and now is sitting on that fastball because he knows that statistically -- that's the next pitch.  Don't be that guy.  Come right back with another curve down.  He'll lean into it and you'll fool him into a weak ground ball more often than he'll hit it with authority.

Remember: don't be afraid of your stuff.  Know who you are, what you have and use it to your advantage.  The most successful pitchers are not the ones who try and throw the ball by the hitter.  They pitch to weak contact and make the hitters hit the pitches they want them to hit.  If you do that, you will get your fair share of strikeouts -- but more importantly, you will have short, quick innings that saves your arm and keeps your defense alert and ready to support you.

Bruce holds degrees in Computer Science, Biblical History and American History from Temple University, Liberty University and American Public University.  He is a member of the Epsilon Pi Tau Honor Society, Golden Key Honor Society, Historical Studies Honor Society, and the Saber and Scroll Society.  He has worked in educational technology for over 25 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  His baseball career spanned almost 15 years from high school, through Division I college ball and big league spring training.  He has coached players at various levels from ages 8 through 18.

No comments:

Post a Comment