What Age To Start Throwing a Curveball in Baseball

Okay what age
is throwing a curveball alright? This is a big important topic here so when is
it safe number one research has shown that the fastball is the most stressful
pitch I mean you throw it the hardest you
finish it the hardest there’s a lot of I guess probably bat biomechanical reasons
but also just like the overall stress and energy that you put through your arm
the fastball is higher than all the other pitches so the curveball is
through research proven to be less stressful on your arm the fastball so
come and you know take away from this could be a wall okay well we can throw
all the curveballs we want right if they’re you know if my 12 year old is
throwing fast balls which are more stressful why can you throw curve balls
okay fair question but let’s let’s hold our horses and and let’s think of a
there’s some more research and B some of the common sense and and I hate to say
anecdotal but experience-based pitcher development ideas regarding the
curveball so number one yes research has shown that the curveball is less
stressful than the fastball however they’ve also found that through large
like longitudinal studies that pitchers who throw more breaking balls whether
it’s a curveball slider report more arm pain than their counterparts who do not
so sure more the curveball is a less stressful pitch but if you throw more of
them as a kid your arms gonna hurt more that’s sort of the trade-off that we
have and so it’s not really conclusive and researchers say we know this we also
know this so we kind of still just recommend that you wait and don’t throw
that many breaking balls when you’re young okay so there’s other advice that
people will say well what if we you know the kid shouldn’t throw a curveball
until he can shave and I think that often comes from surgeons and some other
people who they see these injuries they see what happens with it when a kid is
skeletally immature they have the open growth plates and they say it just it
puts extra stress on a growing body we should wait until they can shave you
know like you know post sort of late into puberty when they’re more skeletal
immature and their bodies physically stronger and more developed they were
muscle mass and I think to them that makes sense but
it doesn’t match the demands of the sport it’s just too late because look we
understand we want to be as safe as possible and I’m completely on that but
I’ve had two arms surgeries myself but at the same time I’m not gonna give you
impractical advice that’s not real-world applicable I mean in reality if you wait
if every kid waited to throw a curveball or slider until you could shave like
that’s probably 1718 for a lot of kids how are you gonna go play college
baseball that way I mean you can explain to a college coach oh I I’m not throwing
a curveball until I can shave and he’s like okay well I can’t recruit a kid
that doesn’t have a breaking pitch like unless you think the world’s nastiest
change at which you easily could develop if you took all that time which is part
of one of the things I advocate however that’s just probably not real realistic
and it’s important to have a breaking ball so we can’t just wait until then
because it’ll be too late developmentally and that’s really just
not the way best way to go so we got to find a balance and so the age that I
start teaching it is at 14 and a half and I’ll explain 14 1/2 this is eighth
graders 14 your baseball right they’re playing their summer 14 new baseball
right before they enter freshman year in high school so that summer before they
hit the fall where they become a freshman I teach them the breaking ball
in the summer and we start to play catcher that we started mixed into our
pregame routine so I explain everything that I do in this course and we start to
play catch and we start to throw it in pregame and they’re instructed every
time we play catch every time we practice we time we have a game you go
through your throwing routine you go through your if you’re in a long toss or
stretched it out today or whatever you throw change ups you throw some
curveballs we mix them all in because now is the time to practice it and the
more they start to get a feel then towards the end of the season the last
maybe three weeks of the season they can start to mix it in but all the way up
until then in my Academy what I teach who work on fastball come in and
changeup command you need to get those two those if you learn to rely on those
two pitches will be in great shape so then a 14 and a half we teach it they
have free rein to throw it a lot in lower speeds in practice and then they
can start throwing bullpens and we start to throw at the end of the season
so they’ve like okay I’ve gotten a taste of it and then and though in the
offseason as we’re approaching their freshman year in high school we’re
working on in the winter okay so we could wait and teach them in the winter
but it’s I think a little bit better and completely safe to teach it in that
summer well they’re gonna throw those last three weeks you know I was the the
pitching coach for this 14 new team where we did this and they’re throwing
810 curveballs in a game they go seven you know five six seven innings and 80
pitches or so so clearly I think the research would corroborate each kid
through his ten curveballs in a game that he throws six innings it’s not
gonna hurt his arm doing that right those seventy fast balls are all more
stressful so I think that makes sense and let’s go over a little more of those
those things so again the thing is it takes a while you’re not gonna just
magically snap into this hammer curveball I teach it to 14 15 because I
know it’s gonna take one to three years for it to be a good pitch some kids and
get it really quick and they have a pretty decent curveball after maybe two
three months and then for others it’s gonna take a whole year before it’s like
pretty okay and then after that it’s still a honing a honing over time as
they throw harder as they can spin the ball faster I can throw a curveball
personally because I’ve been doing my entire life I can throw a curveball at
fifty five fifty miles per hour that kids will miss that when I’m when
they’re playing catch and so then the question well why can’t if a kid who
throws 60 65 throw the same 50 mile-per-hour curveball as sharp as I
can throw a 50 mile-per-hour curveball well it’s because they don’t they don’t
have the strength and the speed in their arm to spin the ball even at slow speeds
that hard because again spin rate and spin axis matter a ton and how sharper
curve ball breaks so as you get older the spin rate continues to increase the
spin axis continues to perfect and then the pitch gets better and
better so when you start throwing it at eighth or ninth grade your curveball is
gonna be an average eighth or ninth grade curveball really it’ll be above
average because of the stuff that I’m teaching in this but then your goal is
to have an average high school curveball then it’s an above-average high school
then it’s a fantastic high school curveball that fantastic high school
ball is maybe an average college curveball and then you want to have it
just continues to climb the quality of the pitch so it takes a while and we
have to continue to move forward with it so the plan is this 14 and a half learn
it throw it in pregame practice in the bullpen ten percent at the end of the
season age 15 15 percent or so in games I do not want kids to rely on this at
that age because they still need to learn fastball command and change of
command those the number two one and two things and they still do have open
growth plates they’re gonna have potentially open growth plates so
they’re 18 but they’re gonna be still developing smaller bodies you know 120
to 140 pounds is typical freshman their body just it’s it’s not the best thing
to be throwing 30 40 50 percent curveballs which you’ll see a lot it’s
really sad and then it’s sixteen and beyond just sophomore year and Beyond no
restrictions really I think they’re okay to go full usage which is fifteen to
thirty percent but if they have three pitches which the the absolutely should
because if they’ve been taught well hopefully it’s been fast ball and chain
of command all the way up this to this point they’ll still throw their change
of a good amount of time and they’ll still throw their fastball the vast
majority the time so if they’re going 60% fast balls and 15 percent change ups
that only leaves 25 percent curveballs left right so that sort of helps take
care of itself whereas when kids don’t have a changeup they might go 5050 and
that’s terrible it’s not good to throw 50 curveballs in a game if they goes
seven innings so we need to teach them fastball command we need to teach them
change of a command and when I say no restrictions again it’s still up to like
maybe thirty percent now maybe a kid just doesn’t have a great changeup and
he doesn’t work hard on it and it’s change it’s not that good but his
curveball is really good I understand he might throw 25-30 percent of them and
that’s okay you know 80 80 game an eighty pitch game that’s like twenty
four curveballs that’s still relying on the fastball the majority at the time
but it just gets really hairy and it’s just not good for pitch ability and all
these other developmental things when you start to throw above 25 30 percent
curveballs so young pitchers over rely on it because when you’re a young hitter
you’re terrible like I mean even if you’re good you’re good hitter you’re
kind of terrible young hitters just their brains the physics all this stuff
it’s just really hard anything that’s slower they get on their front foot
because they’re hitting account I could anything that breaks their brain just
doesn’t understand it I’ve seen this as a 14 you baseball coach when curveballs
become like the like you haven’t seen curveballs that often they just like
don’t know what to do and so any curveball of any quality is pretty
effective because it’s just different right it’s not it doesn’t have to be a
good one just has to be different a lot of times so kids can fall in love with
it because it’s effective and coaches fall in love with it because it’s
effective I watched junior high baseball games and the pitch touring is
embarrassing coaches are calling you know 14 curveballs in an 18 pitch inning
it’s terrible because they’re afraid that if they throw a fastball kids gonna
hit it look we gotta teach kids the right way to play the game we want them
to develop a fastball and chain of command first and then when they do that
and then you give them a curveball it’s a weapon and they just destroy
everybody because they can throw they can throw strikes they can get ahead
they can move to one side of plate now they can pick pitches which one’s better
I can throw a changeup here I can throw a curveball
you know like hitters just don’t know what’s gonna happen and when you learn
to pitch with a fastball and changeup and command both sides of the plate and
know that getting ahead and throwing quality well-located strikes is number
one and then when you add a curveball on top of that that’s when you’re just you
become dominant and that’s what you want you don’t want to rely on the curveball
and then have to backtrack and try to find fastball command all that stuff
later on okay so that’s an overview of age and when I believe it’s the right
time to teach it you know there’s definitely some fluctuations depending
on developmental age because just cuz you’re 14 doesn’t mean you’re the same
as some other fourteen-year-old we’ve had 14 year olds over six foot four and
look like grown men and really they’re more like sixteen year olds and then
we’ve had 16 year olds who were really more like 14 year olds developmentally
it goes both ways but in general that age is probably the right time to teach
it you

2 thoughts on “What Age To Start Throwing a Curveball in Baseball

  1. I took a year off from baseball last year between 7th grade and freshman year (so I’m 15). I hadn’t pitched since 6th grade and now I’m pitching again and my curve ball does help me a lot, it’s pretty good if I do say so myself lol. I think the age listed is perfect, and the reasons you talked abt are exactly why. If I didn’t have a curve as a freshman, I don’t think I’d be as successful at all.

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