A common problem with pitchers of all ages is the inability to control their curveball. Sometimes it’ll be great, and sometimes it’ll come out of their hand flat. (I have this problem myself!) Most of the time the problem revolves around the pitcher throwing the ball to the target and not focusing on the quality of the pitch. This happens with fastballs too, but the fix is different – and a topic for another blog post.
Pitchers think too much about throwing their curveball for a strike. What you can do to help increase both the quality and consistency of your curveball is to stop doing this in your bullpen sessions. Yes, your bullpen sessions should focus on throwing a high percentage of strikes most of the time, but you also need to work on pitch quality as well. This means throwing fastballs at maximum intensity without care for location to understand what it will take to tame that chaotic delivery, and it also means spiking curveballs in front of the catcher.
Find yourself a good catcher – who you’ll buy a milkshake for after you’re done beating him up – and have him set up normally in the middle of the plate (or slightly to the glove side if you throw a slurve). Do NOT throw curve balls for strikes, but instead deliberately throw them so they land a foot in front of the catcher. If you don’t have a catcher, you can just set up a net behind the plate and practice this – perhaps marking the target with some white athletic tape.
By working on the depth of your curveball, you ignore the pressures of throwing strikes and can instead just work on the pitch’s movement. Over a few bullpen sessions, slowly work this feeling back into your regular strike-throwing sessions and you’ll see that the control of your curveball will come back as you increase your confidence in the ability to throw it.