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Why Do Left-Handed Pitchers Have a Natural Curve?

by Steve Silverman

About Steve Silverman

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.


A left-handed baseball pitcher can develop a notable curveball by making a couple of adjustments in his delivery. Throwing the ball with a three-quarters motion and holding the ball along the seams while standing on the extreme outside portion of the mound will almost always make the ball break. Just as important as the physics that impact your pitch is the perception. Left-handed pitchers are rare, and most batters—left-handed and right-handed alike—don't know what to expect. As a result, many batters believe that left-handers will only throw breaking balls.

Mound Positioning

The way most pitchers attack the batter is to move the ball inside and come back outside during the course of the at bat. By driving the ball inside, you may force the batter to back off the plate. This makes the pitcher more effective in her attempt to get the batter out. Standing on the left edge of the mound gives the left-handed pitcher more of the outside corner to work with when facing a right-handed batter. A right-handed batter will anticipate a curveball when she sees an outside pitch, and she may swing and miss if the ball does not break all the way over the plate.

Left-Handed Follow Through

When a left-handed pitcher stands on the left edge of the mound, her pitch will not reach the strike zone unless she follows through all the way to home plate. That follow through occurs by finishing the delivery with her left leg and snapping the ball toward home plate as the ball leaves her fingers. As the ball leaves her fingers, a left-handed pitcher's fingers will extend toward the ground. She should imagine that there's a dollar bill on the ground and that she's about to pick it up. That creates a natural spin that results in a curveball.

Batter's Perception

Many batters have the perception that left-handers throw a lot of curveballs, slow balls and other breaking balls. These pitches are often referred to as "junk" pitches, especially if the pitcher is not a particularly hard thrower. Since a batter is expecting to see these pitches, that's how she may perceive them as they leave the pitcher's hand.

High Value

Baseball scouts and administrators hold left-handed pitchers in high esteem because they are tougher for all hitters to figure out, including those who hit left-handed. Since right-handed pitchers are far greater in number, batters are not used to seeing left-handed pitchers. "One might have a curve, but no fastball," Detroit Tigers scout Greg Smith told "USA Today." "Then, you throw in poise, command and makeup, and you know why it isn't easy to find a good lefty."

Photo Credits:

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.