How To Throw A Filthy Curveball

  • Updated

Home Articles Curveball Pitch & Grips

Youth pitching program

Learn about my workout programs for pitchers

Build functional strength the right way. Explore my pitching workouts and throwing programs for players who work hard and don't make excuses.

Learn more

 

How to throw a curveball banner

Do you know how to throw a curve ball?

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about throwing a curveball that goes beyond "dirty" or "nasty" and usually involves embarrassing the batter...

But first, check out this breaking ball from Clayton Kershaw...

It's hard not to watch Clayton Kershaw curveballs like this one all day, as they effortlessly fall into the zone over and over again:

Clayton Kershaw curveball
Image source: pitcherlist.com

The curve is unique in that its rotation is from top to bottom, rather than from bottom to top like the fastball.

This action results in being released forward, in the direction of the fingers toward the batter.

On this particular pitch, the hand speed transfers leverage to the front of the ball to get that 12-6 movement that makes the curveball so effective.

The curveball is often a strikeout pitch. It dives down as it gets to home plate. The velocity is as effective as the movement to create deception and disrupt a hitter's timing because it's usually much slower than a fastball.


FREE NEWSLETTER
Sign up for my daily pitching tips email newsletter
For exclusive tips and insights not found on the site.
Click here to subscribe


Curveball grip

So what's the secret to a good curveball?

Let's take a closer look at how to grip and throw the curveball...

Curveball grip
Image source: baseball-pitching-tips.com
  1. Grip a baseball and place your index finger on the ball.
  2. Place your middle finger along the bottom seam of the baseball.
  3. Place your thumb on the back seam.
  4. When this pitch is thrown, your thumb should rotate upward and your middle finger should snap downward.
  5. The arm action is a little abbreviated at the end. Bring your throwing hand elbow to the opposite hip which will shorten your follow through, but, will permit you to snap off the pitch.

More images of curveball grips

Changeup grip images
Curveball grip images
Image source: baseball-pitching-tips.com

DID YOU KNOW?

The curve is unusual in that it rotates from top to bottom, rather than from bottom to top like the fastball.

That's because instead of being released forward, in the direction of the fingers toward the batter, the curve is thrown with the wrist cocked so that the thumb is on top.

With the arm coming down, the ball rolls over the outside of the index finger, causing a downward spin.

The curve sinks dramatically and can be thrown for a strike or as a "miss" pitch. Depending on the arm position of the individual pitcher — straight over the top or more sidearm — the ball might also break across the plate and wind up outside.

On this pitch, having the hand speed to transfer leverage to the front of the ball is more important than arm strength.

My favorite GIF of throwing a curveball

Put it all together, and it looks like this...

Here's a great curveball from Cy Young winner Corey Kluber:

Corey Kluber curveball
Image source: pitcherlist.com

Man, that's such a great pitch right there!

Learn more about my workout programs for pitchers

Youth pitching program

One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not.

To get to the next level, preparation is everything. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.


If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.

Learn more

What do you think?

Now it's time to hear from you:

Are there any curveball grips, tips or techniques that I missed?

Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.

Either way, leave a comment and let me know.



 




READ THIS NEXT: Pitching Grips: How To Throw 8 Different Baseball Pitches

Sign up for my daily pitching tips

Get exclusive tips and insights on mechanics, velocity, arm care and more, delivered to your inbox every Monday through Saturday morning.

SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER

(Seriously, pitchers, coaches and parents are loving these tips. Don't miss out, sign up now!)

Reviews of Steven Ellis' pitching tips