Mastering the Curveball: Mechanics, Spins and Drills

Written By: Haylie Wagner

Learning to Throw a Great Curveball

Curveball: A pitch that is known for having great break, spin, and movement. A very difficult pitch to hit. Also, my FAVORITE pitch to throw, especially as a lefty.

Growing up in Orange, California I was known for throwing hard and jamming all righties as a lefty pitcher, with some up spin. I knew I could throw a curve, but I did not fully understand what my body was doing, how to throw it and how to fully use it to my advantage. But college is when I learned how to properly throw a curveball mechanically and visually. I have to give a HUGE thank you to my collegiate pitching coach, Jennifer Brundage, in my opinion, the BEST pitching coach around!

Utilizing Proper Mechanics

Before they start movement pitches a pitcher needs to MASTER a fastball with good mechanics and spotting locations. Once your pitcher masters a fastball there are many directions one can go. If your pitcher decides on a curveball, it is based off of a GREAT fastball.

Important Concepts:

  • When throwing a curveball, all body movements are the same as a fastball until release.
  • To release the ball properly, snap across your body, under the ball, near your belly button.
  • Visualize creating a bullet spin on the top of the ball.
  • Cross your stride slightly over your powerline - the straight line from the middle of the rubber to the middle of home plate.
    • Lefty pitchers: Right foot over the left of the powerline
    • Righty pitchers: Left foot over the right of the powerline

Crossing your Powerline

Spins and Drills

14" Ball
Zip Ball

Using the 14" ball and the Zipball will allow you to focus on creating the correct wrist positioning and spinning the ball with your fingertips. Try to master self-spins, as I demonstrate above, and then move on to throwing the 14" ball and Zipball to a catcher.

Frisbee Toss GIF
Frisbee Toss

Use the frisbee toss to maintain proper positioning and keep your palm underneath the ball as you work on your curveball spin.

  • The grip can be tricky to pick up on.
  • Grip the frisbee palm up.
  • Place your thumb in the groove on the bottom of the frisbee and wrap your fingers along the top.
  • Throw the frisbee just like you would a softball, focusing on keeping your palm under the frisbee and creating a proper wrist snap.
  • The frisbee should remain flat and curve as it reaches your target.

Mastering your Curveball

As I learned my curveball, it helped me to complete visualization exercises. Everyone's visualization process might be a little different, so try to explore different types of visualization and decide what works best for you. Below, I explain how my visualization process progressed throughout my collegiate and professional career.

As you continue to learn to perfect the spin and placement of your curveball, it's important to commit to the process and keep a positive mindset throughout. Remember, struggles and successes make you who you are. The way you respond to difficult situations not only shapes how you compete in the circle, but also how you perform in life.

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