Can You Actually Throw a "Safe" Curveball? | Why The Grip and Technique is Key

Can You Actually Throw a “Safe” Curveball?

By Dan Blewett | Baseball

Apr 30

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.

Is there really a safe version of the curveball that won't stress a pitcher's arm?

First: Curveballs Aren’t Evil.

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.

Okay, if They’re Not Evil, Is There a Safer Version?

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.

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Check out two of my best resources for off-speed pitch development, both of which are completely free:

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How to Throw a Hammer Curveball Guide

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Leave me a comment – what do you think about youth pitchers throwing curveballs?   -Dan




About the Author

Dan Blewett is a former pro pitcher, 2x All-Star, owner of Warbird Academy and the Warbird Senators Baseball organization. He writes for numerous fitness websites and published his first book in 2013. Follow Dan on Instagram as he shares stories from his playing career.