Most of us know the pitch “curveball” in baseball. But, how does it work? Why does it actually curve the way it does?
First of all, it depends on the arm the pitch is thrown with. If it is thrown with the left arm, it will move towards a right-handed batter, away from a left-handed batter. If it is thrown with the right hand, it will move towards a left-handed batter, and away from a right-handed batter.
The spin determines why a curveball moves though. As it travels through the air, the spin makes the ball disturb the air around it. The spin causes air on one side of the ball to move faster than the other, resulting in uneven pressure on the ball, making it curve. You also have to do a maneuver called “whipping your arm.” To whip your arm, you have to flick your arm in a quick overhead throw motion. This is not recommended for younger pitchers, since it can cause damage to the growth plates and can result in having to get a surgery called Tommy John surgery.
Throwing a curveball takes a lot of practice, and even after practicing, it is still very difficult and can be random at times. So, if you just learned the pitch before a game where you are pitching, it is not recommended that you throw it. Just keep practicing it and finding out how much it will curve so you can place it better. Some people will have better natural curveballs, so don’t adjust the way you pitch it to make it curve more unless you actually have to. For instance, if a major-leaguer has a better curveball than you, there’s no point in changing how you throw it, since they are the some of the best players in the world and are going to be naturally more talented than you are. The more you practice, the better you can become at throwing it. Curveballs are very difficult to learn and, overall, just keep practicing and don’t get frustrated.
by James Pendrak ’24