Want to know the major curveball grips that are used by nearly every pro pitcher in baseball? They’re all in this article…
The Truth: There Aren’t That Many Different Curveball Grips
Yep, the core finger placement is mostly the same, with only minor variations in the placement of the index finger. The truth is, throwing a good curveball is mostly about how you spin the ball.
Producing good spin is a combination of understanding the mechanics of the pitch, along with having pitching mechanics that can deliver your hand to the right spot repeatedly.
Curveball Spin Basics
Here’s what you need to know:
- The goal is to produce topspin (forward spin) either directly forward (as in a 12-to-6 curveball) or at a slight angle (1/7 break for righties, or 11/5 break for lefties). For reference, 1/7 refers to the pitch breaking from one o’clock down to 7 o’clock.
- Producing topspin creates a high pressure zone of air above the ball along with a low pressure zone below it. The high pressure pushes the ball down, causing break.
- Curveballs have a constant and gradual break, but when they are thrown very hard (at about 85% of the fastball’s speed) and with very fast spin (2600+ RPMs is fast), they appear to break very sharply.
- Any mixing of sidespin along with the top spin causes the break to be less sharp, as the mixture of spin produces less air pressure forcing the ball to break downward.
A Good Curveball Grip Allows Each Unique Pitcher to Impart His Best Spin.
No one grip is better than another! Rather, a pitcher should try different grips out and find the one that feels the most comfortable and produces the best result. But – how will a pitcher know which pitch produces the best curveball? Answer: The throwing partner.
A good throwing partner – who knows what to look for and will give honest feedback – is critical to the pitch-development process.
What a Good Throwing Partner Does For a Pitcher
- That one was really sharp!
- That one wasn’t as good.
- That one was kind of slurvy.
- That one was too loopy.
- The spin on that last one was too sloppy – too much sidespin
- You got around that last one, and it had too much lateral break
Each throwing partner’s method of feedback will vary, but it’s critical that he gives constructive criticism and explains what he sees in each pitch. Pitchers will not be able to tell for themselves which curveballs are the sharpest versions. Even with veteran pro pitchers, it becomes very difficult to tell two very similar pitches apart. The help of the throwing partner and/or catcher is needed.
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Now Onward to Pitch Grips.
Remember! Getting the right grip is important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. The grip will not make you Adam Wainwright or Clayton Kershaw – the grip is merely like opening the car door. Opening the door and sitting down in a car won’t make you a race car driver…but it’s necessary if you want a chance to be one.
Standard Curveball Grip
Watch The Video Below For A Quick Demonstration:
Okay, So What Are The Other Grips?
There are a handful of variation grips, including the standard one shown above (which is what I threw, and I had a very, very good curveball).
Remember that the core of the grip – the middle finger & thumb placement, along with the way the ring and pinky finger fold underneath – these elements are pretty much universal across all the grips you might find.
The main difference is index finger placement:
- Standard (shown above): Index finger rests lightly on the ball without applying pressure
- Crossover: Index finger crosses over and rest atop the middle finger
- Pointer: Index finger points straight up, so that it is not resting on top of the ball.
- Fingernail: Fingernail of the index finger digs into the ball slightly, which does not adversely affect spin.
- Knuckle Curve: Commonly thought of as a different pitch, the knuckle-curve is merely a different placement of the index finger, in which the second-digit knuckle of the index finger rests on the ball.
See photos below of each variation.
The grip is the easy part – tinker with different variations and find the one that suits you best – it should both feel comfortable (though they may not at first) and produce good shape and spin. But, remember that the process of learning the curveball and understanding it is much, much more important than the grip.
To learn more about how throw a great curveball, download my free eBook. It’s got much more knowledge and can help get you to the next level, well beyond the grip.