Is It a Curveball?

Is it a curveball? Or is it a breaking ball?

curveball
Standard curveball

As I ponder the question, a few things come to mind.

First of all, lets try to define a curveball: A curveball is a pitch thrown with a certain grip and hand action that causes the ball to spin forward, making the ball “dive” as it approaches the plate. This is basically the same action you get with a slider, although usually thrown with a little less speed. The general rule is: Less speed=more break. Depending on the release point, severity of the arm angle and hand action, it can actually “curve”, or break away from the batter. Basically, a right handed batter, facing a right handed pitcher, would see the ball coming directly at them until the last second when the ball would “break” back over the plate.

Now I will take a shot at breaking ball: A breaking ball to me is any pitch other than a 4 seam fast ball. For the most part, any pitch you can possibly imagine (other than the 4 seam fastball) could be called a breaking ball. The term “breaking pitch” gives baseball announcers an easy out when they have no idea what pitch the pitcher just threw…. It will usually sound something like this “He struck him out with a nice breaking pitch to end the inning”.

Essentially, there are only 2 kinds of pitches in baseball…The 4 seam fast ball, and the breaking ball. I can think of at least 6 or 7 different kinds of breaking pitches, with almost every pitcher having several different variations of their own for each one. With that being said, you can literally say that there are hundreds, even thousands of different breaking pitches, with the curveball being chief among them.

So: Is it a curveball, or is it a breaking ball? Well, in my opinion it is both. Since a breaking ball is any pitch with “movement”, designed to fool a batter into thinking the ball will be in a certain place when it reaches the plate, only to have it change at the last moment, then a curveball would definitely be considered a breaking ball.

12-6 curve
12-6 Curveball

Safety: As always, safety is always my main concern for kids. While I am sure the controversy over what age a kid should start throwing a curveball will most likely go on as long as the game exists, these are a few of my own personal opinions.

14… Age 14 seems to be the most commonly accepted age that most would agree  it is o.k. to start learning how to throw a curveball. Teaching proper form is the most important part of the process. The unnatural snapping action of the wrist puts a lot of stress on the elbow. My favorite answer when someone asks me this question is: Don’t teach the bender til’ they can shave….

Consider teaching them to throw a “change up” instead. The change up basically mimics the same downward action as the curveball as it approaches the plate. It is also the least stressful pitch you can throw in baseball.

While I completely agree that limiting the amount of pitches allowed to be thrown is the best way to prevent damage to the throwing arm, waiting a couple more years to teach the curveball makes absolute sense to me…. How many 9 and 10 year olds throwing curves do you see still pitching in high school or college without some kind of arm problems? The curve can wait!

I have found a few great pitch training tools you can try:

The best way you can counter a great curveball, is to become a great curveball hitter. Here are a few great training tools to try.

As always, if you enjoyed the article, or found it helpful please feel free to leave a comment below. I also love to hear about your experiences, so please share 1 or 2 with me…..~Jeremy

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17 thoughts on “Is It a Curveball?

  1. Hi…love your site! The information is clear and concise. I have a nephew this age and he enjoys his baseball! I didn’t know there were differences in how to throw. Baseball enthusiasts should see this site. Thank you for making this site easy to understand. Also, thank you for providing the Amazon links…makes it easy to just click and purchase. Please keep me updated with new information and tips.

    1. Hey Deidre.. Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment. I am glad you enjoyed your visit. I will do my best to continue sharing with you all..Have a great day and see you soon. ~Jeremy

  2. Good post! And I agree with you on waiting till they can shave. Too many parents want their ball-playing kids to have fame and fortune, as it is, and will push the kid too fast. You don’t want arm damage.

    1. Hi Carla. Agreed. Weather you start throwing a curveball when you’re 10 or 11, or you wait til your 14 or 15 is not going to be the determining factor in making it big or not. But it just might be the difference between arm problems and no arm problems. Thanks for stopping in ~Jeremy

  3. Excellent post, Jeremy. I completely agree that kids need to wait to learn to throw a curve. From what I’ve seen, most kids just need to work on getting the ball over the plate consistently.

    Appreciate your insights!

    1. Hey Allyn. Absolutely. Control seems to be the biggest problem til age 12 or so. Lets teach them good form and mechanics before we expect to throw a perfect 12-6 bender. Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment. Have a great day. ~Jeremy

    1. Hi Ashley. Throwing the curveball to early can definitely be hard on a young arm. Proper technique is critical. The curveball is the equalizer in baseball, just wait til their arms are developed enough to throw it without doing damage. Thanks for dropping by. !Jeremy

  4. Great post Jeremy! As a baseball fan and one who goes to a lot of games pitching has always fascinated me in how the pitcher grips the ball and how releases the ball.

    I agree that some pitches that put a lot of strain on the throwing arm would be best to wait until the ball player is older. There is no sense in having the throwing arm blown out at such a young age.

    I enjoyed how you described the movement of the various pitches. I bet one pitch you would have difficulty describing the movement on (many pitchers & baseball gurus have trouble with this too) is the Mariano Rivera Cutter. 🙂

    1. AH….The Rivera cutter. Here goes..To me, the cutter is basically a mix between a slider, and a fastball. A right hand pitcher can make the cutter break,or “cut” in on a left handed batter and away from a right handed batter. Mariano gained dominance with the pitch by being able to make the ball “cut” either way, eliminating any advantage a switch hitter thought he had. Also, Rivera lost little, if any velocity compared to his 4 seamer. Hope that helps. Thanks for coming by,and hope to see you soon. ~Jeremy

  5. When I was a kid my brother and I got given a baseball for Christmas that had all the finger grip positions for the different types of pitches on it, each different move was marked with a different color.
    Now that I’m older I think it’s a cool idea for beginners, what are your thoughts on these Jeremy, have you ever seen them before?

    Still remember it to this day, though I never learnt how to throw a curve ball!

    1. Hi Jolie. Yes I have seen these before. I think they are a good idea to give you an idea for finger positioning on the ball. It still takes a lot of practice to get the arm and wrist action down. Just remember to wait until they are at least 13 or 14 years old before they start throwing curve balls. And don’t worry, I still struggle with the curveball myself. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. ~Jeremy

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