If you are like most baseball fans and players, it is likely that you already know about all the different types of popular pitches and what they mean, but when it comes to specific differences and features of each, this is where it can become more difficult. Some of the most popular pitches amongst the most popular are sliders and curveballs. The question is, do you know the difference between a slide and a curveball?
Both of these types of pitches have a track record of being quite effective in the Major Leagues, but knowing the specific differences between the two of them can be quite challenging.
It was recorded in 2020 by MLB that the average spin efficiency of the curveball was around 68.7% which was the second highest in that recording, and the slider had the lowest at only 35.9%.
In spite of this, any professional pitcher will have the ability to dominate their opponent if they use either a slider or a curveball. But what do they need to do to be able to do this?
Some questions worth asking about this is what is the science behind these two types of pitches, how this type of pitch is achieved, and what skills are needed for a player to be able to pull off this type of pitch effectively.
If you have any questions like these or similar, this article should be able to answer the questions you have.
This article will go in-depth exploring what defines everything about a curveball and a slider, as well as comparing them to each other, so we can understand what helps them stand apart, but also what makes them similar.
If you are looking for any information on curveballs or sliders, or a comparison between the two, keep reading!
The Difference Between A Slider And A Curveball
One of the easiest ways to learn the difference between something in a sport like baseball is to see how it originated.
This will help you understand why each pitch came about and why they gained enough popularity to be still used today.
Even if you are not that interested in the history of sports like baseball, by informing yourself about it, you will be able to contextualize your knowledge and explain why certain throws are popular, we will start off with the curveball.
The curveball style pitch was first used in around early August as early as 1870 and was first officially recognized on the Capitoline Grounds within Brooklyn. The pitcher who did it was called Fred Goldsmith.
There is some debate over the origin, however, with some people attributing the first user of the curveball to be Candy Cummings, but this is all still up for debate.
The first collegiate who was successful doing the curveball was called Clarence Emir Allen and was from the University Case Western Reserve which was formerly referred to as Western Reserve College.
This university is in Cleveland Ohio. Some of the most popular users of the curveball include Tommy Bridge, Herb Score, Bob Feller, as well as Sandy Koufax.
The slider was first recognized in 1920, with the curveball pitch being used in a game against the St Louis Browns. During this period this was referred to as the Nickel Curve.
The person who originally used this type of pitch is not known, with some people accrediting it to Chief Bender.
Bender was able to use this type of pitch to win an impressive 212 games over the course of 6 world series throughout his career.
What Are Slider And Curveball Pitches
If you still do not fully understand what a slider and curveball pitch is, this section will make this clear.
We will also try and avoid using any words which will confuse you and will make the definitions as clear as possible. If you want to know exactly what a slider and a curveball are, this is the section you should focus on.
A curveball is a breaking pitch that involves a lot of movement compared to other types of pitches. It is generally thrown more slowly than other pitches and features overhaul breaks.
If you are able to perform a curveball correctly, the hitter will swing earlier than they need to since they will be expecting a fastball and this will lead to them missing the pitch.
This will keep the hitter away and distract them from making proper fastball preparation.
The curveball also has some other names which are used to refer to it like; hook, bender, deuce, and Uncle Charlie.
Compared to a curveball, the slider is also a breaking pitch, but it makes the hitter’s job more difficult. This pitch is thrown faster in the style of a fastball, however, it uses a lot less movement than a curveball would.
The delivery of this pitch will use a combined technique of both a fastball and a curveball.
This pitch is seen as significantly more deceptive than a curveball is. This is because it is thrown faster as well as having a spin at the same time making it closely resemble a fastball.
There is also another type of slider pitch which is called a slurve.
There are multiple names used to refer to the slider pitch some being; breaking ball, snapper, and slide piece.
Both of these throws have some common or more rare variations, to keep things clear we will go over them here.
For the curveball, some of the most common variations you will see are:
- The regular curve; this is a standard curveball and is used to deceive the hitter and to be able to make a score
- A sweeping curveball; this type of curveball will add more speed than it usually has. This pitch will be delivered at an angle that is between a straight overhead and a straight sidearm. This will make it, so there is a diagonal style of toss and hopefully, this hitter will miss.
- Finally, the 12-6 curveball; this type of curveball will be delivered in a specific way so that you will be able to see the vertical movement of the forearm which is then quickly followed up by the ball breaking straight down. There are different ways of performing this pitch like a 2-8 or a 1-7, but all of these will use the same strategy.
There are also different variations of the slider:
- There is of course the regular slider; this will have the ball moving a bit slower (usually at a speed that is somewhere between 8 and 10 miles per hour) than a fastball would usually move, but this will then turn during the last moment.
- Then there is the hard slider; this type of pitch will be thrown at somewhere between 2 and 3 miles per hour faster than a standard slider would be.
If you want to be able to know what sets different types of pitches apart, one of the clearest places to look is how the ball is gripped for each of these.
Having a good grip is what will most clearly affect your ability to pull off a certain type of pitch effectively, and if you do not know how to grip the ball properly, your pitch will not be as effective as it should be.
This section will go through the anatomy of the grip for both a curveball and a slider to help you understand how each of these grips works, but also what sets them apart from each other.
When it comes to the correct grip for a curveball, the most important thing to remember is to keep your middle finger placed along the bottom seam of the ball and to keep the back seam covered by the thumb.
When you are doing your pitching delivery, you will want your thumb on the back seam to then rotate upwards, and then the middle finger will then be forced back and downwards in accordance with this.
If you want more guidance on this, there are many picture and video-based guides and tutorials available.
The grip for a slider is slightly different from that of a curveball, but is mostly the same.
You will want to hold your index and your middle finger on top of your baseball and have your thumb just underneath this. There are some different ways of holding it, but most people like this way.
Some others choose to hold the ball by using the index and the middle fingers at the top of the ball and then use the rest of their fingers on the back of this.
The best way to choose which grip is best for you is to prioritize your comfort and choose based on this.
The Science Behind A Slider And A Curveball
Part of being a successful pitcher is not just knowing how your pitches work, but also why your pitches work, and to do this, you will need to look at the science of your pitches.
If you know both the ins and the outs of your baseball pitches you should be able to get even better results than before!
While calling it the science of the grip may make it sound more confusing than it is, there is no need to worry, and this section should be able to make understanding the science of your pitches easy!
The Pitch Movement Chart
One of the quickest ways to be able to learn the science behind different pitches is to properly study the pitch movement chart. This chart and its teaching, once fully understood will help you become a much better pitcher and baseball player, so once you know this, you will be able to use this knowledge to inform your play to be better.
This chart will help you know the pitch movement of the different popular pitching types and will show you their styles of movement.
So study it as closely as you can, and if you are struggling to interpret it properly, there are tools and guides which will be able to explain it in even greater detail.
When looking at the curveball, you need to look at the Magnus effect which is a common factor which is behind all types of curves.
This is when a spinning sphere or a cylinder will curve away from the arc which it would tend to follow if it were not spinning. This effect is not just studied in baseball, but also in volleyball, cricket, and football.
If your fastball has a backspin while traveling through the air, it will create a very high-pressure area in front of it in the air.
The baseball will then be deflected downward in its flight. Gravity will also encounter the ball while it is in the air.
This way the fastball will fall less often during the home plate. If you want a more visual explanation, there are some clips on YouTube, which will explain this more clearly.
As was stated earlier, the slideball is a combination of both the fastball and the curveball, but not completely.
There was a report which was done in 2019 which showed that on average the velocity of a slider pitch will be somewhere between 8 and 10 miles shorter than it would be for a fastball.
This means that there is no explanation except that of the gyro factor which is also known as the gyroscope. Luckily you do not need to use the gyroscopic meter, but just the angle.
This gyroscopic angle, alongside the technique for gripping the ball, will make it so you can pitch similarly to a fastball, but using a lower level of speed which will react in a different way to a standard curve.
Chances Of Injuries
This section is dedicated to the effect that the pitcher could face after doing these throws consistently throughout their lifetime being a pitcher playing baseball.
By consistently doing slider as well as curveball throws, there will be a massive amount of strain on the player’s arm, more specifically affecting the elbow, the shoulder, and starting at the wrist.
There are some leagues that will prevent players under the age of 13 from doing these pitches due to the strain it can put on the body.
There have been many pitchers who have had to end their careers prematurely due to their arm getting blown.
If you are starting to feel pain after doing pitches like these, it is never worth sacrificing your health, and you should consult with a professional immediately.
This does not always mean that you have to stop pitching, but you may need to be more relaxed doing it.
Differences Between A Curveball And A Sinker
A sinker pitch will drop in its last moments of flight, this will make it, so the hitter will instead hit the top of the ball which will easily turn it into a ground ball. This is why so many sinkers are called ‘groundball pitchers.’
Curveball Or Slider – Which Is More Difficult?
If you are counting curveballs, therefore the answer to this will be yes, however this does not cover all bases.
A more experienced hitter will end up swinging the heel and will hit the ball a longer distance.
All hitters will want to score against a curveball, however, this will need a lot more of their experience, as well as patience, as well as practice. In most cases, a minor league player will fall for not being able to hit curveballs.
In contrast to this, a sinkerball is quite easy to hit since they do not break as a curveball would, but this does not make them easy for the hitter.
In most cases, the hitter will strike too early and turn it into a groundball.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Better? A Slider Or Curveball?
A slider will e thrown a little faster than a curveball would, but it will be done with much less movement.
It has a more unique breaking capability as well as its velocity making it more powerful than other types of pitches. This is why many people will prefer slider pitches.
What Is The Difference Between A Cutter Slider And A Curveball?
The difference between these two pitches is the time as well as the percentage of its pitch break; looking at these will make the difference between these two pitches clear.
When Should You Throw A Slider?
If you want to start learning how to throw a slider, the best time is between 14 to 16 years of age. This is because younger pitchers will be more likely to suffer arm pain if they start throwing sliders too often.
Hopefully, this guide has made all of the points it needs to make the difference between a slider and a curveball obvious.
Both of these pitches are useful skills to have and will help you become a much more experienced and multi-faceted pitcher.
However, make sure that you are not learning either of these pitches too early. This is because excessive use of these pitches can lead to pain and permanent injury along the arm which is being used, and being forced into early retirement due to not knowing your limits is incredibly frustrating.
Knowing which pitch is best at which time is what will make you the best pitcher you can be so make sure to use the right ones at the right time.
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