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Cindy Bristow - Player’s PageA Great Way to Practice Hitting the Curveball and Screwb
In order to hit a pitch moving toward you or away from you you’ve got to see these types of pitches in practice, and I’ve found the perfect thing to help you do just that!
It’s important to practice situations that happen in games but that gets really hard when you’re trying to hit pitches that move toward you (screwball) and away from you (curveball) when your own pitcher doesn’t really have them. What can you do? How are you supposed to practice and get ready to hit these pitches in a game?
Well I found a tremendous training tool that will help you do just that. It’s called the EZ Curve Ball and it’s a rubber ball with ridges on one side. The balls come in different colors and since they’re made of rubber, they’re soft so they don’t hurt you if they hit you.
Here’s how they work – you’ll get someone to toss these balls to you from about 10 feet in front of you. The tosser will hold the balls with their first two fingers splitting the ridge down the middle as you can see on the right.
Without making the whole windmill motion, but simply swinging the arm back and forward, the tosser will toss the ball toward you. What’s great is that the balls move toward the ridges – which means depending on where the rides were facing when the tosser held the ball, the ball will move in that direction. If the ridges face right then the ball will move into a right handed hitter acting just like a screwball. But if the tosser turns the ridges to face left on the next pitch, then the ball will move left, away from a righty and act just like a curveball.
These are the BEST things I’ve found to resemble exactly the movement of the curveball and screwball and to help hitters practice seeing, and hitting these pitches.
Here’s how I suggest you use them in a step-by-step manner:
- Stand behind homeplate without your bat, and without a glove and simply catch the ball as the tosser pitches the balls to you. At first, this will be really hard because you’re not used to seeing balls move like this. This will force you to really pay close attention (focus) on the ball as it approaches you and also to see if you can tell which direction the ridges are facing BEFORE the tosser lets go of the ball.
- After you do this for a while you’ll start to understand how much the balls will move and you’ll get much better at tracking their movement and catching the balls.
- Stand in the batter’s box, without your bat, and track the balls as the tosser pitches them.
- You’re not going to swing your invisible bat, you’re just going to stand there and really follow the balls as they move either toward you or away from you.
- Try to use your eyes just like you did when you were standing behind the plate trying to catch these balls.
- The third step is to get your bat and try and bunt each pitch. This will force you to stay very focused on the movement of the ball and is a good step before you actually try and hit these pitches.
- And finally, you can try and hit these balls as the tosser pitches them to you.
Once you get pretty good at understanding how much each ball moves and you feel you need to challenge yourself then have your coach (or whoever’s tossing to you) add some tennisballs into the bucket of EZ Curves. The tennis balls won’t move at all and will resemble a pitch going straight forcing you to react to every single pitch, whether moving straight, left or right – just like you do in a game.
Here’s how you can get your own EZ Curve Training balls