As a baseball player, learning how to throw different styles of pitches to strike out your opponent is necessary to give you and your team a competitive edge. While there are many different ways to pitch a baseball, there are going to be certain types of pitches that will be harder for batters to read, therefore making it harder for them to hit. The type of pitch that we are going to look at today is how to throw a screwball.A screwball is very similar to a curveball, except the screwball will trend downward instead of outward or inwards. The rotation of the ball makes it harder for a batter to gauge the direction it will be traveling and can be a great way to trick your opponent when pitching. Today, we are going to discuss exactly how to throw a screwball so that you can practice this highly sought after technique.
1. Grip The Ball In Your Pitching Hand
As with any type of pitch, the way that you grip the baseball will setup the entire pitch. For the screwball, you are going to want to start with the baseball in your dominant hand. Set the baseball in the upper portion of your palm, ensuring that both sets of the seams are visible.
2. Position Your Middle And Pointer Finger On The Top Of The Ball
With both sets of seams visible, let your middle and pointer fingers wrap around the top of the ball and rest on the inner side of each seam. This will allow you to have traction and grip when throwing the ball.This grip is going to vary from player to player so ensure that you do what feels comfortable for you through practice.
3. Grip The Bottom Of The Ball With Your Thumb
Allow your thumb to cup the ball from the bottom creating a “claw” type grip. This is going to be the way that you will be able to move the ball in the direction that you want without losing grip.You will want to make sure your grip is firm but not too tight. You will want to grip the ball with the pad of the thumb, not the whole finger to make sure you get a quick release.
4. Get Into Your Normal Pitching Stance
As with any pitch, you are going to want to put your dominant foot to the rear and non-dominant foot forward facing the appropriate side depending on which hand you pitch with. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, while allowing your upper body to relax.
Keep your eye on the batter while keeping the ball and your grip hidden in your glove to ensure the batter does not read your pitch.
5. Locate Your Throwing Target
The goal of throwing a screwball is to strike out an opposite handed batter. For right handed pitchers, you are going to want to set the ball in the lower right side of left handed batters, and the opposite for left-handed pitchers.
6. Start Your Windup
The windup for a screwball is very similar to any pitch. You will want to take a slight step back and raise your knee on your non dominant leg to keep your balance. Bring both hands up like you are throwing a fastball and bring your pitching arm up and back into throwing position.
7. Take A Step Forward To Throw
Bring you knee down with a large width between both feet to create a larger base to stabilize yourself on (about twice the length of your normal pitching stance). Your pitching arm should be in line with your shoulder and your forearm upright at this point. To help to build velocity, keep your core tight and your shoulder relaxed.
8. Let Your Body Lean Into The Pitch
The next few steps happen fast, but you will need to make sure that your moves are calculated. When going for the pitch, you will want to shift your bodyweight over the front leg while allowing your pitching arm to trail behind you. Ensure that your palm is always facing the batter for a more accurate pitch. To add more power, rotate your hips a bit in the direction of the pitch.
9. Rotate Your Wrist Inward
To get the perfect release, you will want to bring your pitching arm down in a tight arc. Begin rotating your wrist and forearm as you reach full extension to the point where your knuckles are pointing in the direction of your body. Screwballs require quite a bit of torque in order for the ball to curve to one side.
10. Release The Ball
Once your arm becomes level with your face, release the ball and allow it to leave easily. Ensure that your fingers are out of the way, minus your pointer finger which you will use to spin the ball. To make the ball curve, allow your pointer finger to drag alongside the ball quickly. When done correctly, this will give the ball enough curve to break in the opposite direction as a screwball should.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Now that you know how to throw a screwball, you can start to practice this pitch to figure out which grip is more comfortable for you. One important thing to remember is to practice safely to ensure that you are not overstraining your wrist or arm. This can cause serious injury that could cause you to miss games or whole seasons.