Parents and coaches often explain to me that the taught the pitcher in their life a “safe” curveball. I ask what they mean by that, and they explain that it’s thrown exactly like a fastball, and is thus safe for a youth pitcher. But does this really exist? Learn more in this article.
First, let’s get a few things straight: it’s not the end of the world if a youth pitcher (lets say ages 12-14) throws curveballs. Research shows that the fastball is the most stressful pitch on the arm, and that curveballs are less stressful. BUT – youth pitchers who throw curveballs report more arm pain than those who do not.
So, the research on curveball use in youth baseball is a bit inconclusive, with experts advocating that kids wait until they’re older. However, curveballs are not the devil and if they are throw a small percentage of the time – say 10-15% of the time – should be fine.
The problem however is that many youth pitchers find such resounding success throwing the pitch that they throw it 40, 50, sometimes 60% of the time. This is where the problem lies – kids don’t learn how to pitch.
Rather, they learn that throwing lots of breaking balls = success. What pitchers should be learning in youth baseball is that command of a fastball and changing speeds via a changeup is an important foundation for the rest of their career.
In short, no. To make a curveball curve there are only a few ways to throw it. It’s not possible to throw it “like a fastball” and have it break properly. Having the same intensity and arm speed of a fastball is a requirement and is possible, but that’s not what we’re referring to.
Can a pitcher throw a “safe” version that doesn’t stress the arm? Watch the video below to learn more.
Check out two of my best resources for off-speed pitch development, both of which are completely free:
How to Throw a Hammer Curveball Guide
Leave me a comment – what do you think about youth pitchers throwing curveballs? -Dan
The Fatal Blow
Velocity-Based Tommy John Mound Program
Throwing Velocities At Distances of 30-150 Feet
Tommy John Throwing Program – Dr.Kremchek
Tommy John Throwing Day 1: What Slow Looks Like
16-Week Tommy John Surgery Checkup
The Day I Tore My Elbow
The Tommy John Surgery Workout: Week 8