Throwing the ball as a catcher takes a very unique skill set to be successful. Catchers need to have athleticism, arm strength, and great accuracy to be able to throw successfully. Without these skills, it’s very difficult to consistently throw runners out. Here are some tips that will help young catchers with their time to second.
A problem that most kids have is that they have a tendency to step out towards their glove side with their initial step. This technique can have a negative effect on two things - accuracy and arm strength. When you start allowing your momentum to move in directions other than the direction you’re trying to throw, you’re displacing the momentum needed to throw the runner out. Your first step should be with your throwing side foot and straight towards second base.
When transferring your throw to second base, there are a couple of things you can do to make it easier and faster. One consistent technique that kids use is they will reach for the baseball instead of letting the ball come to them. A baseball is always going to be faster than the speed of your glove, let the baseball travel instead of going out to get it. Another technique that should make the process faster is making the transfer straight up to your throwing shoulder. When your focus is on bringing the ball up to your shoulder it will encourage your arm to stay short and quick instead of long and slow.
What slows catchers' times to second base down is when they wait to catch the ball before they start moving their body. It can save much needed time if you get your body started moving to your throwing position before the ball is received. Next time you watch a major league game, watch and see what a catcher looks like when the ball is hit on a hit and run. The catcher’s body is already getting into position even though the ball was never received. Practice getting your body started a little early and learn how you can do this effectively without getting your body and arm out of sync.
Throwing a runner out at second base is a difficult task. To be able to throw a runner out, everything needs to be done correctly, right from the pitcher's first movement. Any inefficient or slow movements are time that the opposing runner is getting closer and closer to arriving at second base safely. Work on these three areas and you'll start to see yourself getting the ball down to second base quicker and quicker as well as more accurately.
Hopefull you find these helpful. If you have any other feedback or other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Kevin Hussey MSc BSc - The Baseball Zone
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