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: 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.
My Best Pitching Resources
Check out two of my best resources for off-speed pitch development, both of which are completely free:
- A Four-Lesson, Step-By-Step Guide to learning a heavy-sinking changeup.
How to Throw a Hammer Curveball Guide
- A 15-page PDF guide that takes you step-by-step through the process of learning, understanding, and fine-tuning a curveball.
Leave me a comment – what do you think about youth pitchers throwing curveballs? -Dan