One thing that can be very difficult for young hitters to learn is how to hit a curve ball. Early on, most baseball players will only face straight pitches, but as the competition rises and players get a bit older, they will start to see an array of different pitches. Pitches with some type of movement can be significantly harder to hit for some. Many kids struggle with this. It is extremely common, so if this applies to you do not worry you are not alone and there are things you can work on to improve your game.
So what is a curveball? Well, it’s probably the most popular “off-speed” pitch in baseball other than the change-up. There are a few different variations of the curve which include the “12-6” curve where it drops vertically, or the “1-7” which has more of a horizontal break. The “12-6” downward breaking curve is the one you see more of, and when thrown correctly can be very difficult to hit.
Let’s look at it from a pitcher’s perspective, their goal with curveballs is to keep the hitter off balance and guessing. Pitches like curves and change-ups are used as “off-speed” pitches. Young hitters struggle with the change of speed, more than the arch or curve of the pitch most times. This is what really throws off most hitters. Facing a good pitcher that knows how to mix up their speeds can be a nightmare. Also, pitchers don’t need to be flamethrowers to be effective in changing speeds. Their fastball might be average, but if there is a significant drop-off in speed chances are it’ll be successful. The reason is that typically the hitter will be off the balance if he does not anticipate the curveball coming.
Momentum’s 3 Keys to Hitting a Curve ball are:
1. Keep Your Weight Back
It’s easier said than done, but keeping your weight back on any off-speed pitch, can be the difference between smacking the ball and looking foolish. Load all your weight onto your back leg and explode when the ball is crossing the plate. A good example of this can be seen here.
2. Recognizing The Pitch
There’s no easy way to do this, except to get reps. Great pitchers don’t have many “tells”, but the quicker you recognize that a curveball is coming the more successful you will be at hitting one. The best way to recognize that a curve is coming is to look at the pitcher’s arm angle and also the spin of the ball leaving their hands.
3. Keeping Your Eye on the Ball
This one may come off as basic, but it’s super important. This also goes hand-in-hand with all of your mechanics, but early on you might need to fight the urge to pick your head up. Keep your head down and your eye on the ball for maximum success.
Remember these tips out on the diamond and you will no longer be wondering how to hit a curve ball! Also, be sure to check out our other helpful tips and tricks – here.