The knuckle curve is an advanced pitch. It can take a long time to learn. But even for beginners, it’s fun to fool around with. Every kid who grew up playing baseball in the yard has tried his hand at throwing a knuckleball. Just grip the ball with your knuckles and throw, right? Of course, it’s not that easy. Getting the ball to go where you want it to is hard enough with a normal grip. Using a knuckle grip is an added challenge.
The knuckle curve is another level of difficulty because the pitcher needs the ball both to knuckle and to curve. This involves a slightly more complex grip because it combines two pitches.
How to Begin
The knuckle curve is a combination pitch. It’s made up of the curve ball and the knuckle ball. So before learning to throw the knuckle curve it’s important to understand how a curve ball and a knuckle ball work on their own.
First, the curve ball. Let’s start with the grip. You want to place your middle finger lengthwise along one of the seams, with your index finger alongside it. You will have to play around with it to see what is most comfortable for you.
The grip is the easy part. Once you’ve found a grip you like, it’s time to work on your release. A curve ball is very different from a fastball in terms of how you release it. When throwing a fastball you snap your wrist straight down. With a curve, your index and middle finger will be on the side of the ball so your wrist will be snapping sideways. The goal of the curve ball is to drop and tail away from a batter (assuming both the pitcher and hitter are right handed).
Now onto the Knuckleball
The knuckleball is unlike any other pitch in baseball. Instead of gripping the ball with your fingers you scrunch you index and middle finger up so only your knuckles are gripping the baseball. You can experiment with where you want to place your knuckles on the ball. To start with, try placing them on one of the seams in the long part of the horseshoe.
The release is the same as a fastball. You snap your wrist straight towards the catcher.
The goal of the knuckleball is to limit rotation. When done right, a knuckleball hardly spins at all. In fact, a good one will only rotate one time before reaching home plate. This lack of rotation will have strange effects on the trajectory of the ball. It may float up or dip down. This unpredictability is why a knuckleball can be so difficult to hit. But be careful. A knuckleball that is thrown badly will act as a very slow fastball, easily picked up by hitters.
Now We’re Ready for the Knuckle Curve
As stated before, the knuckle curve is a combination of the knuckleball and the curve. If you’ve mastered the grips and release points from the knuckleball and the curveball on their own, it shouldn’t be hard to mix them together.
You can think of the knuckle curve essentially as a curve. The only difference in the grip is that instead of extending your index finger forward, you pull it back to grip with your knuckle. So your middle finger is extended along the seam and your index finger is right next to it, gripping with the knuckle.
You’re going to release the ball the same way you do a curveball, with your middle and index fingers on the side. Of all the pitches in baseball, the knuckle curve is one of the most difficult because of this awkward grip.
Don’t throw the knuckle curve if you aren’t an experienced pitcher. Good luck!