Throw to 2nd
- Secondary receiving position (runners on base) has feet slightly wider then primary (no runners on).
- Heals are on the ground, toes pointed up the lines
- Throwing hand is behind glove.
- Proper position for throwing hand is as follows. Player extends hand as if to offer handshake. Drop thumb to palm, wrap fingers around to protect thumb. Then the hand is placed behind glove with the middle finger knuckles touching glove.
- Catcher has come up in crouch so thighs are parallel to ground. This is approx. Goal is to get out of deep crouch and “unlock hips’ to allow for a quick explosive move towards second. Staying in deep crouch requires first move to be “up” and that will waste time.
A lot of things here are all happening together. I will start with describing the footwork I teach and then the glove and arm motion separately. This footwork would be for a 0-2 count where catcher will hold strike.
One of the things that happens early in the mechanics is a very subtle weight shift. When just receiving pitches I instruct catchers to have weight spread with 60% on heals, 40% on balls of feet. As soon as they are aware the runner is moving that shifts to 60-40 the other way. This will only happen after MUCH practice and will have to become almost an unconscious shift.
The footwork begins with the catcher beginning to rise up out of the crouch. Since they are slightly pitched forward this movement is up-and-out-toward second. The first foot to move is the right foot. It slides straight across towards the left foot. It is planted at a spot that would be ½ way between where it was and where the right foot is. DO NOT have the right foot replace the left. This is taught, but creates way too much momentum in the wrong direction. The goal here is to get turned so the left hip is pointed towards second as fast as possible.
The left foot follows quickly after the right. The target for the left foot is to land basically directly in front of the right foot. This will put the body in a straight alignment to 2 nd. We want this foot as close to the midline as possible. However we do not want this foot to cross the midline. Ideally this foot should touch the midline and be pointed at 2:oclock.
With the slight lean forward at the beginning and a strong push off the back leg we should avoid the problem of having all weight sitting on the back leg that results in throws totally dependent on arm strength and throws that often tend to go high and right.
Now the upper half of the body.
The exchange of the ball from glove to hand is a big time eater for many players.
Once the ball makes contact with the glove the first move the player makes is to turn the glove so the pocket is now facing them. They grab the ball and the throwing hand immediately begins its path back through the throwing slot. The back of the throwing hand leads the hand back. Do not lead with the elbow. The glove stays out in front of the player. It does not travel back toward the throwing shoulder after the ball is removed.
Many kids are taught to draw the glove back with the ball and remove the ball when the glove is back to the right ear. I believe that technique causes 2 problems that need to be eliminated.
- By drawing the glove back to the ear you cause the front (left) shoulders to close off the front side. Some girls rotate that shoulder so far that their left shoulder is pointed towards the 1 st base dugout. Obviously this causes alignment problems that almost surely will result in a erratic throw.
- The 2 nd problem this causes is the sideways movement that will be created by the glove side arm when the throw is executed. As we throw, the glove side arm should be driving down to the left side to help pull the right side forward to get the release point out in front. With the glove back so deep on the right side of the catchers face, the first moves that arm will make is a radical sideways motion just to get back on the left side of the body. Then, and only then can that left elbow bend and the left arm drive down where it belongs. All of this sideways torque is counter productive to a throw that’s should be headed toward 2 nd base.
From this point the left elbow moves up to a point where the elbow is bent at a 90-degree and the left elbow is pointed directly at 2 nd. I tell the catchers to use this elbow as their sight. The upper arm should be shoulder height. Level to the ground. Glove hand is allowed to bend down at wrist in relaxed position.
When the ball was removed it began its path back the throwing slot. The grip we are working for here is a 4-seam. With practice a player can come out of the glove with a 4-seam grip nearly ever time. The biggest issue from this point is that the entire throwing arm, shoulder, elbow, hand and ball NEVER go any lower then when they remove the ball from the glove. As soon as the arm starts back it should begin to track in an upward direction, the back of the hand leading the arm back. Our “target” is to end up with our right elbow shoulder high with the upper arm parallel to the ground. Yes, just like the glove side arm. The elbow should be at a 90-degree angle up. The ball should face the backstop, hand slightly on top of the ball. If the ball is not all the way facing the back stop the impending rotation of the hips and arm will almost always create a wrist roll. This will result in a throw that will act like a curve ball and tail away to the left.
At this point the actual throw begins with a simultaneous rotation of the right side. I tell my students that the pinky on your right hand starts the throw. As it rotates the elbow, shoulder, hip, knee and right foot all rotate towards 2 nd. At the same time the left elbow begins to drive the left arm down and back towards the left hip. This driving helps “pull” the right side through the throw and moves the release point out in front of the body. It is important to keep the head up and looking at target all the way through. Too often the head follows the left shoulder and drops the left side down. This will almost always result in a high to the left throw. After the release the right foot and leg are allowed to release from the ground to release the remaining energy that is stored on the right side.