Week Three: Throwing to bases from behind the dish.
Throwing to bases as a catcher is all about our transfer, and footwork. Even catchers with weaker arms can have quick pop times with a clean transfer, and crisp footwork. Just like blocking, we need to practice our transfer and footwork until it becomes second nature. More often then not we will also be in our secondary stance when throwing runners out. This includes having our throwing arm/hand in a near by position to be able to transfer without a long drawn out motion.
Transferring the ball from our glove to our throwing hand is very simple. Our goal is to transfer the ball around or near our ear and shoulder. This allows us to get the arm back enough to throw without too much wasted movement. A good drill to practice this is simply to bring the ball to your ear when you are throwing at the start of practice to loosen up. Another way it to practice showing yourself the ball every time you receive it and this will help the transfer become more natural. Remember we want to be as short and quick as possible so a long windup will really hurt our pop time. We need to keep the ball near our body to control it and let the ball travel as far as we can. By letting the ball travel deep, it will allow us to use the momentum of the ball to work right into our transfer.
Footwork is the other part of throwing runners out that can mean the difference between safe and out. In the video below the coach and player go over throwing to all three bags and this is the same philosophy on footwork that we use at Muggeo Baseball.
When throwing to second base we need to understand that there is no perfect spot to put our right foot for our first step. Sometimes the ball will be to our right and we can just rock onto the right foot. Other times the pitch will be up, and we will just have to catch and throw. With our younger catchers it is a good idea to emphasize a relatively large first step with the right foot. This will help them get their weight working in the right direction. Throwing to third base involves us clearing the right handed batter if there is one in the box. We always want to be gaining ground towards third base, not to the third base dugout. The way we like to explain this is "bring your right foot to your left foot, and the your left foot to third base". This should give us enough room to clear the batter and work in a straight line towards third base. Remember to throw the ball through our target and not just to the bag. We have two options when throwing the ball to first base. We can push off on our knees for catchers with stronger arms, and for guys with weaker arms we need to jump and replace our feet. This is the most difficult throw for a catcher to make, and it is all about feel. Getting our left hip around is the most important part to making this throw.
1. Standing throws
2. Footwork drill with speed ladder
3. Dry footwork
4. Receive and throw
5. Angled receive and throw
(Note: Use all of these drills all three bases)
Be sure to follow us on Instagram @muggeobaseball to see videos of these drills in action.
Don't forget to check back in next week as we wrap up our last week of Catchers Camp!