If you have read our other articles on improving your catch-play, this post may seem repetitive but finding so many articles on this one topic should help you understand how important this topic is. This time, we take a look at how outfielders can improve their throwing routine. Try these five tips to improve your game without having to spend any extra time on the field.
Keep active feet. It’s really easy to get lazy when you are just playing catch. Keep your feet active and move to the ball so you are always in an athletic position.
Make the ball be where you want it to be. What we are talking about here is focusing on the position of your body, so you catch the ball where you want. This means you are playing the ball and not vise versa. Try to catch the ball in the center of your body every throw. This will keep your feet moving and your focus locked in from partner release to catch. One throw you may have to take a few easy steps back and the next a few hard steps in and to the left. It will keep you on your toes, and without even thinking about it, you are working on your judgment skills and routes. Always make sure you secure the ball from catch to transfer.
After you are somewhat loose, use the shorter throws to practice throwing as you would to get the ball back in to a cut off man on a base hit. This seemingly easy throw is often difficult for outfielders, who either throw it in too hard or lob it in too soft. Both these types of throws can lead to the hitter taking an extra base. Work on spinning the ball and throwing it in with the arm action of an infielder. These throws of 60-80 feet don’t require the full wind up, just a simple shuffle and throw.
As you move back, simulate speed pick-ups with a throw. Don’t wait until you are hit a ground ball in a critical situation to work on transferring the ball from glove to throwing hand quickly. Start like you would when you pick up rolling ball and quickly bring glove to throwing hand, as if you were charging the ball and making a quick throw. If you do this 10-15 times each time you play catch, you will be able to do it efficiently on autopilot when the game is on the line.
Work on your long hop throws. This is perhaps the most important throwing skill an outfielder can master. All outfield throws to bases or relay men should be a long hop or no hop. Instead of throwing all high-arcing throws when you move to long-toss, mix in some outfield specific skills, like keeping your throws low and hard and using a long hop. Try to make the hop reach your partner thigh to belt high. It is okay to throw a ball with some loft to stretch your arm out or work on building arm strength, but you don’t want to make a habit of doing that on throws in a game. If you need to, place a marker 10-15 feet in front of your partner to remind yourself how far out front the ball should bounce.
For more information on quality catch play and the recruiting process, check out why recruiters are watching you play catch before they offer you a scholarship and improving your overall game through quality catch. Both are must-read articles for serious college bound players.