Throw to 3rd
I need to start with a few premises on stanceso the analysis makes sense down the road.
- Secondary receiving position (runners on base) has feet slightly wider then primary (no runners on).
- Heels touch 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.
For this analysis we will assume the batter is right handed.
The purpose of this footwork is to accomplish 2 things.
- Get us clear of the batter so we have an unobstructed throw to 3rd.
- Set us up so our momentum will be directed towards 3rd base when we throw, not towards the 3rd base dugout.
I teach a technique that has the catcher moving behind the batter to get a clear lane to throw to third. The biggest problem I have with many students is they have too much momentum going to their left created as they clear the batter. They are never able to get their momentum turned and powerfully drive towards 3rd. This is caused by a toe-to-heel slide step to the left with their right foot. The player slides their right foot to the left and just behind their left heel to slide behind the batter. When they then try to redirect their momentum towards third they have generated too much lateral motion and cannot get their left hip turned back towards third to begin the throwing motion. This will usually result in throws that are on the foul territory side of third.
The correction for this is a simple change in the angle the right foot takes to clear behind the runner. I have the players take a deeper drop step back-and-towards third. The angle of this drop step is very close to the angle of the back side of the plate. You follow the same line created by the back right edge of the plate (The edge that comes to the point in the back).
The right foot is dropped back and stays in the same alignment that it was when catcher was in his receiving position. To clear most batters this foot must be slid behind and past the left heel.
At this point the hips turn and the left foot steps and drives towards third.
Mechanics for the upper half of the body.
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 grasp the ball and the throwing hand immediately begins its path back through the throwing slot. The glove stays out in front of the player. It does not travel back toward the throwing shoulder after the ball is removed. The glove stays out front. The glove elbow stays bent and is drawn back toward the left side in the same angle as the right foot. They travel parallel paths. This will put the left elbow and the glove right over the left hip ready to pull down when the right side turns and begins the throw.
At this point the left elbow is up at point where the elbow is bent at a 90-degree.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 this. 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 throwing hand leading the arm.
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 away from the catcher, hand slightly on top of the ball. If the ball is not all the way facing away the impending rotation of the hips and arm will almost always create a wrist roll that 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 and the stepping and driving towards 3rd with the left foot and leg. I tell my students that the rotation of your right hand starts the throw. As it rotates the elbow, shoulder, hip, knee and right foot all rotate towards 3rd. 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.