Tuesday, 03 January 2012 13:17 Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2012 13:37
Most aspects of the game involve skills in throwing and receiving a baseball. Unfortunately, many coaches neglect to teach the basic fundamentals needed to achieve appropriate skill levels.
Throwing a baseball properly depends on grip, arm action and body motion.
- Forefinger and middle finger are close, but not together, and across the seams.
- The thumb is underneath and between the two fingers providing support.
- There should be a slight space between the palm and ball with the remaining fingers bent slightly to the side and relaxed.
Arm and Body Action
- Rotate shoulder and hips to point at the target - body weight is back.
- Throwing arm drops down as front leg begins stride (leg opposite throwing arm).
- Throwing arm extends back - weight begins to transfer against the front leg.
- Shoulder levels - front leg lands on ball of foot - hips begin to open.
- Wrist is cocked - elbow bent.
- Eyes on target - hips open - weight transferred against front foot.
- Ball is released slightly above and in front of the head.
- Follow-through - bend the back.
When receiving, the position of the glove is usually determined by whether the ball is above or below the waist. Above the waist the fingers point up and below the waist the fingers point down.
For balls at belt level, the arms are extended slightly more to cushion the catch, and the fingers point outward.
The baseball is caught with arms relaxed and extended towards the oncoming ball. The ball should be received on the throwing side of the body, with the elbows bent. The hands draw back slightly to absorb the force of the throw. The throwing hand enters the glove as soon as possible and finds the correct grip on the ball in preparation for a quick throw. Coaches should stress that quickness with the feet is essential in getting the body into a good receiving position.
These following basic drills can be used to improve player mechanics and overall performance in both throwing and receiving.
Have your players pair-off in two lines facing each other about six metres apart making sure there is adequate room between everyone. As they warm up, players should move further apart with longer and harder throws. For the longer throws it is important that players use the crow-hop step (3 steps taken prior to throwing - starting with the leg opposite the player's throwing arm. For example: a right-hander would stride left-right-left and then throw).
Another drill that can be used is to have players throw from a sitting position, then from both knees, then one knee (throwing side knee remains on the ground). This drill teaches players to properly rotate their hips when throwing (since they cannot use their legs).
Grip Drill: Each player tosses the ball in the air to themselves and catches it with the throwing hand. Practise finding the correct grip before simulating a throw.
Crow-Hop: Every player has a ball and they toss it in the air in front of them, catch it, crow-hop and simulate a throw.
Target Drill: Pick a target on their partner (i.e. the chest and face area). Award one point for every ball thrown accurately at the chest and two points for a successful throw to the face area.
Like throwing, the proper methods of receiving a baseball must be stressed.
Shuffle Step Drill: Quick, short lateral steps are important in getting the body into a good receiving position. Without using balls, have all the players shuffle quickly to their left and back to their right. After two or three of these quick steps, they should pretend to receive a ball on the throwing side of their body using two hands.
Soft Hand Drill: Have partners throw to each other with no gloves. This drill forces them to throw easily and to draw back their hands to cushion the impact of the ball when receiving.