January 2014 - Tip of the Month

"One Step Forward, Two Steps Back."

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Hey everyone, we're just about two weeks away from the start of Spring Training! This Tip of the Month I wanted to address a very common throwing problem for catchers at every level.

As catchers, our job is to deliver the ball to 2B as quickly as possible in order to give ourselves the opportunity to throw a runner out. "Runner goes, Catcher throws".

However, there is a common misconception on how to do just that. Many coaches and players believe that by taking a jab-step forward with the right foot (left foot for you lefties out there), you increase the amount of momentum towards 2B in the throw. Thus, increasing the velocity in the throw. Which should mean that the ball will get to 2B faster.

That all sounds great, but unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way.

You see, in order for us to begin our throw, we need to have our back foot firmly planted on the ground, with the instep (right at the base of the big toe) facing our target. The most efficient way to set that back foot is by sliding it underneath our center of gravity after we've stood up, turned our upper body and gained control of the ball in our throwing hand.

However, if we send the foot forward towards our target, we take more time to begin the throw. If we only lose a tenth of a second to do so, that may not seem like a big deal. After all, we've got to be throwing harder because of it, right?

Wrong. When you start to look at the math behind it, we'd need to gain an average of 5 MPH for that lost tenth of a second on our throw to just break even. Something that just isn't possible. And, this is without considering what effect the jab-step will have with our ability to throw accurately. A jab-step forward will often cause a lean backwards with the upper body, causing a catcher to get underneath the ball during their throw. This is a big reason some catchers routinely sail balls into the outfield.

Catchers, keep this point in mind when considering your approach to a throw towards 2B. The ball is never traveling any faster to 2B than when it is out of your hand and in the air. That should be our goal - get rid of the ball as quickly as possible without wasting time doing something that can't actually help us throw quicker. For instance, taking a jab-step forward.

Thanks for reading this month's Tip of the Month!