How to Throw a Screwball

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The art of pitching in baseball encompasses a variety of throws, each with its unique mechanics and strategic purposes, but few are as intriguing and effective as the screwball. This pitch, often regarded as a secret weapon in a pitcher’s arsenal, can befuddle batters and leave spectators in awe with its unexpected flight path. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamental techniques of how to throw a screwball, the training necessary to master this elusive pitch, and the notable pitchers who have made history with their screwball. Whether you are an aspiring pitcher looking to diversify your pitch repertoire or a baseball aficionado eager to understand the intricacies of pitching mechanics, this article will provide you with a deep dive into the world of the screwball.

What is a Screwball?

A screwball is a type of pitch in baseball that moves in the opposite direction of what a hitter expects, making it particularly challenging to hit. Unlike a curveball which breaks towards the pitcher’s off-hand side, a screwball breaks towards their glove side. This unique movement is achieved by the pitcher gripping and throwing the baseball in a way that imparts a spin opposite to that of most other pitches. The spin causes the ball to move unexpectedly, deceiving the batter. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to surprise and outmaneuver the batter, leading to missed swings or poorly hit balls.

How to Throw a Screwball

Grip the Baseball:

Start by holding the baseball with your index and middle fingers on opposite sides of the ball, across the seams. Your thumb should rest underneath the ball for support. This grip is crucial as it affects the direction and spin of the ball.

Position Your Fingers:

Slightly turn your wrist inward, towards your body. This position is contrary to most pitches where the wrist turns outward. Your index finger should apply more pressure on the ball than your middle finger. This pressure differential is key to creating the unique spin of a screwball.

Foot Placement:

Stand on the pitcher’s mound with your feet shoulder-width apart. The foot on the side of your pitching hand should be slightly back, allowing for a full and comfortable rotation during the pitch.


Begin your windup by lifting your lead leg (the leg opposite your pitching hand) while keeping your eyes focused on your target. This movement builds momentum for the pitch.

Throwing Mechanics:

As you lower your lead leg, rotate your torso towards home plate, leading with your hips and then your shoulders. When your arm comes forward, keep your elbow high. This high-elbow position is necessary for the unique arm motion required for a screwball.

Arm Rotation and Release:

In the final phase of the pitch, as your arm comes forward and you’re ready to release the ball, rotate your forearm and wrist outward (for a right-handed pitcher, this means rotating your hand clockwise; for a left-handed pitcher, counterclockwise). Release the ball off the side of your thumb, maintaining the pressure with your index finger to ensure the correct spin.


Complete your pitch with a full follow-through. Your arm should come down across your body, and you should finish with your chest facing the batter. This follow-through helps ensure the ball travels in the desired path and decreases the risk of injury by not stopping your motion abruptly.

Practice is key to mastering the screwball. Start with slow, deliberate pitches, focusing on the grip, wrist position, and the unique spin. As you become more comfortable, increase your speed and work on accuracy. Remember, the screwball is a complex pitch that requires time and patience to perfect.

FAQ About Screwball

Why does no one throw a screwball anymore?

The decline in the popularity of the screwball can be attributed to various factors. Firstly, the pitch puts considerable strain on the arm and shoulder, increasing the risk of injury, which has led coaches and players to discourage its use. Additionally, the proliferation of advanced scouting and technology has made it easier for batters to anticipate and react to pitches, reducing the effectiveness of deceptive pitches like the screwball. As a result, many pitchers opt for safer and more reliable pitches in their repertoire.

Can a right-hander throw a screwball?

Yes, a right-handed pitcher can throw a screwball. The mechanics for a right-handed screwball are similar to those for a left-handed pitcher, but the grip and release are adjusted accordingly. Right-handers grip the ball with their index and middle fingers placed slightly off-center from the seams and snap their wrist and fingers across the seams to generate the desired movement.

How do you throw a screwball in slowpitch?

Throwing a screwball in slowpitch softball follows similar principles to baseball but with some adjustments due to the underhand pitching motion. Grip the softball with your index and middle fingers placed slightly to the side of the seams, tucking your thumb underneath for support. As you release the ball with a snapping motion, focus on driving your fingers across the seams to create spin and movement. Aim to release the ball slightly off-center to induce the screwball action, causing it to break away from the hitter.

How to throw a screwball in wiffle ball?

In wiffle ball, throwing a screwball requires adapting the technique to the lighter and more aerodynamic wiffle ball. Grip the ball with your index and middle fingers positioned slightly to the side of the holes or seams, ensuring a firm hold. As you release the ball with a snapping motion, aim to spin it in the opposite direction of your usual curveball, using your fingers to impart the desired movement. Experiment with different grips and release points to find the right combination for producing a deceptive screwball in wiffle ball.


Mastering the screwball in various ball games, whether it’s baseball, slowpitch softball, or wiffle ball, adds a powerful tool to a pitcher’s arsenal. Understanding the mechanics, grip, and release specific to each sport can significantly enhance pitch effectiveness and complexity, making it harder for hitters to anticipate and connect with the ball. Remember, practice and experimentation with grip and release techniques are key to finding what works best for your style, ensuring you can confidently deploy this deceptive pitch in game situations. Ultimately, the screwball not only showcases a pitcher’s skill but also provides strategic advantage, making it a valuable pitch in any competitive scenario.

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James Arnold
I'm James, and I live in Stanislaus County, California. I'm playing Baseball for many years, and I love this sport so much that I also encourage my kids (Danny and Sara) to play Baseball & Softball.