What’s a curveball?

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The curveball was invented in the late 19th century to deceive batters and has become a staple in pitchers’ arsenals. However, the pitch can cause injuries, especially in younger pitchers. The curveball’s spin causes it to move downward and curve to the side, making it difficult for hitters to hit. It can be a daunting pitch to face, causing batters to dive off the pitch and resulting in strikes.

Throughout baseball history, pitchers have experimented with countless different methods of throwing the ball at a batter. During the latter part of the 19th century, the curveball was born to deceive hitters and give the pitcher an advantage. The curveball breaks downward as it approaches home plate and curves inward or outward away from the batter, thus throwing the batter off balance. Originally considered a rule violation, the curveball has become a staple in pitchers’ quivers at all levels of the game.

Because of the arm movement required to effectively throw a curveball, it is not uncommon to see injuries resulting from pitching, especially to younger pitchers in their teens or younger. A curveball’s spin must move forward rather than backward like a fastball, and it must also curve slightly to the side. Thus, the pitcher must allow his arm to move in an unnatural motion that places great strain on the shoulder and elbow. It is generally not recommended for young pitchers to throw curveballs until they are in their mid to late teens and their muscles have had sufficient time to develop.

Because of the strange spin of the curveball, hitters tend to be pitch-deceived and off-balance. A fastball moves toward the batter with a strong backspin, allowing for a fairly stable trajectory, but the curveball employs the use of unstable forwardspin that causes the ball to move suddenly downward as it approaches the plate . As the backside goes out of bounds, the curveball also swings hard inward towards a hitter or hard outward away from a hitter. Many hitters will allow the pitch to pass them without attempting to hit him, thinking it will be called a ball. But at the last second, the ball breaks into the plate for a hit.

While a curveball doesn’t move as quickly as a fastball, it can be one of the most daunting pitches to face as a hitter. It is not uncommon to see a batter dive off the pitch, as the illusion tricks him into thinking the ball is headed his way. Only once they have moved away from the privileged position to hit the ball do hitters realize that the ball will be heading back towards the plate. This results in a strike against the batter.

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