Playing baseball requires several different skills. Knowing how to hit and run are important on offense. Knowing how to catch is important on defense. Equally important is being able to throw effectively. A fielder with a great glove may do your team no favors if they can’t throw the ball as well.
You will notice that there are many different reasons to throw a baseball – and there are some different positions from which to throw. You will also notice that most defenders will throw the ball in much the same way. Again, whether you are trying to improve on the field or just have some fun in the backyard, there are a number of different fundamentals of which you should be aware.
Whether you’re a beginner or just looking to improve your technique, this guide will show you everything you need to know. We’ll cover the basics of grip and throwing motion, as well as tips for improving your accuracy and power.
Finding the Ball
Before you can throw the ball, you have to find the ball to grasp it. If you just caught the ball, it may be a bit more complicated than simply picking the ball up. You have to reach into the webbing of the glove and secure the ball.
Gripping the Ball
In order to make an accurate throw, you want to make certain that you have the proper grip on the ball. If you hold it incorrectly, the ball can tail or drift when you throw it. To get a straight throw it is best to grip the ball the same way a pitcher does for the 4-seam fastball. Hold the ball across the seams with the seams forming a backwards C. Your thumb rests underneath the ball. You want to have a strong yet somewhat loose grip on the ball. This is important because it allows you to get more speed on the ball – which can help you throw a runner out. This grip also allows you to get more backspin on the ball.
Squaring Up to Throw
At the same time that you are getting a good grip on the ball, you will find yourself squaring up to throw. What this means is that you have to get your feet in a good position to throw. In some ways, it is kind of the same way that you position yourself to hit a ball. Your feet will be about shoulder’s width apart and lined up in the direction that you want to throw. Your non-throwing shoulder will be pointed towards the direction that you want to throw the ball.
As you pull the ball out of your glove, you will find that your glove will raise towards your target. You throwing hand will mirror the movement of your glove hand. As both hands rise up, you will find yourself in the “T” pose. Your throwing hand should be on top of the ball rather than underneath.
It is important to note that your throwing motion may vary depending on the position from which you are throwing. An infielder will have more of a compact arm swing as they usually have a shorter amount of time (and distance) to throw a runner out.
However, an outfielder has a bit more time (and momentum) to get a larger arm circle into their throw. This is especially important provided that you will be throwing from a longer distance. It is just as important for an outfielder’s throw to be accurate. Whether you are trying to throw a player out at the plate, or if your teammate needs to cut the throw to target a different runner – accuracy is important.
Loading Your Arm
It is not enough to just grab a ball and throw. Once you get your body into the “T” position, you will find that your lower body is also important to complete a throw. You may hear coaches saying to “step into” a throw. What this means is that your non-throwing foot will step towards the target to which you are aiming. Your weight will shift from your back leg (throwing arm side) to your front leg. You will get a push from your back leg. You will feel your shoulders rotating.
Your front arm (the glove side) will bend at the elbow. Your elbow will tuck in to your side. This helps to propel the ball forward by creating torque in your body. Now that your arm is loaded, you are ready to release the ball.
Releasing the Ball
Just like in hitting, your head is important to throwing. You need to see where you are throwing. Your eyes should be on your target and your head needs to stay still. If you let your eyes wander to a different part of the field (the runner, the umpire, or another player) you will find your throw to be less accurate. The ball will go where your eyes go. Keep your eyes focused on the target.
Before you release the ball, it is important to know where you hand is. If your hand drifts under the ball or to the side of it, you can change the trajectory of your throw. You will likely lose accuracy. It is important for you to stay on top of the ball so you can keep the flight straight and therefore more accurate. As you stay on top of the ball, when you release it, you will put backspin on the ball. This is a natural release.
The follow-through of the throw is also important. You don’t just stop your arm after you release the ball. It is important for your arm to follow through on the throw so that you maintain an accurate release to your target. Again, this may look a little bit different in the outfield than it does in the infield. In the infield you will step into and through your throw. There’s no wind up, so there is a more gentle follow through. However, you may have seen outfielders make throws from deep parts of the outfield. What you may notice is that they actually run into the catch (air or on the ground), wind up, throw, and then hurtle after they release. What your follow-through looks like will depend on the distance and strength of your throw. Remember, it is not enough to throw fast or hard, it is equally important for your throws to be accurate.
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