Hitting a curveball is difficult. Depending on your level of play, the ball can be traveling at over 80 mph and move significantly in the strike zone. However, with some practice, you can learn how to hit a curveball better. Below, Clint Robinson, first baseman for the Washington Nationals, provides tips on how to hit a curveball.
Step 1: Know Your Enemy
The first thing to know about hitting a curveball begins in the dugout and the on-deck circle. Some pitchers throw a slow, slurvy-type curveball, while others throw a sharp 12 to 6 breaking ball. Pay attention and study the pitcher before you step up to the plate so you’ll know which type you’ll be trying to hit.
Step 2: Identify the Pitch
Before the ball is thrown, you need to pick up on what kind of grip the pitcher uses, the spin he puts on the ball and his release-point—anything that identifies the pitch as a breaking ball. For a 12 to 6 curveball, the pitcher puts a 12 to 6 spin on the ball to get it to travel in the direction he wants. This is your first way to identify the pitch, especially if you can’t get a good view of his grip.
Step 3: Track the Ball’s Flight Path
Based on the information you collect while scouting the pitcher, once you know that the pitch is a curveball, you want to anticipate where it will arrive. For example, if a pitcher has a hard 12 to 6 breaking ball, you know that you will look for a pitch higher up in the strike zone; otherwise you’ll end up swinging at a ball under the zone. Once you see that the ball will pass through the strike zone, put a good swing on it and drive it.
Hopefully, these tips will come in handy next time you face a pitcher who throws a good breaking ball. Follow Clint Robinson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BatHoarder and Coach Potts at https://twitter.com/TopSpeedLLC.