Three important rudiments of throwing a baseball are:
- Line all of the participating body parts up with the target
- Keep the elbow above the shoulder; and
- Proper posture and weight distribution.
Grip the ball softly (think of the ball as an egg - don't crush it) with the index & middle fingers across a seam and the thumb on the opposite side of the ball. Do not smother the ball in the palm of the hand but rather hold it lightly in the pads (tips) of the fingers. The proper mechanics of throwing a baseball require that the player squares the back (throwing side) foot (so that the instep is facing the target), steps towards the target with the front (glove side) foot, brings the ball down out of the glove and in a circle up high so that the elbow is above the shoulder. The glove and front (glove side) shoulder should be facing the target and the ball should be facing away (at this point in the delivery, if throwing from the pitcher's rubber to home plate, the ball would be facing 2nd base). It is important that the throwing hand (and the ball) be on a line to the target (not wrapped around behind the back). KEEP EYES ON TARGET. To begin the throwing motion pull the glove back into the chest, rotate the hips and bring the throwing arm forward. The ball should be released out in front of the head after the front (glove side) foot has landed. The ball should be released off of the middle finger pointing directly at the target. The throwing arm should follow through across the body and the back (throwing side) foot should step forward so that both feet are even.
Here is a progressive learning sequence that will help your players to throw properly:
- Always have the players stretch and warm up before they begin to throw. WARM UP TO THROW - DON'T THROW TO WARM UP! Begin with a light jog around the perimeter of the field. Then, have them participate in a series of stretching exercises to get them ready to throw, field, hit and run.
- Arrange the players in two lines 20 feet apart so that each player is facing a partner. All players kneel on their throwing side knee with the leg straight back. The glove side knee should be bent at a 90 degree angle with the foot pointing at the target. The player's posture should be tall & straight. Hold the glove directly in front of the chest. Hold the ball in the glove with the proper grip - the ball should be in the glove facing the target. Bring the ball down and out of the glove - "THUMB TO THIGH" and then up high - "BALL TO SKY" with the ball facing away from the target. At the same time, stretch out the glove arm so that the pocket of the glove is pointing towards the target (pinkie up / thumb down) and the elbow is slightly flexed. To throw the ball, pull the glove back into the glove side chest twisting it so that the pocket faces the sky - "CATCHING RAIN". At the same time, the body rotates so that the throwing arm comes forward. Throw the ball off of the middle finger out in front and follow through with the throwing hand and middle finger pointing right through the target. Alternate back and forth.
- Keep them in the same lines but move back to about 30 feet apart. The players stand straight (encourage the players to always stand tall) with both feet pointing at the target. Hold the ball directly in front of the chest and follow the same procedure as in Step 1. DO NOT MOVE THE FEET. Alternate back and forth.
- Keep them in the same lines but move back to about 40 feet apart. The players stand straight with the back foot (throwing side foot) square to the target (the instep of the foot facing the target) and the glove side foot pointing 85% towards the target. The feet should be wide apart and the weight evenly distributed. The glove side shoulder should be facing the target. Hold the ball directly in front of the chest and follow the same procedure as in Paragraph 1. AS SOON AS THE BALL IS RELEASED PIVOT THE BACK FOOT SO THAT THE HEEL IS OFF THE GROUND AND THE TOES POINT AT THE TARGET BUT DO NOT MOVE THE FEET FROM THEIR POSITION. The weight will be over the front foot after the release. Alternate back and forth.
- Keep them in the same lines but move back to about 60 feet (the distance between the bases) apart. The player stands straight with both feet pointing at the target. Hold the ball directly in front of the chest. Pivot the throwing side foot so that the instep is facing the target. Step towards the target with the glove side foot and follow the same procedure as in Paragraph 1. AS SOON AS THE BALL IS RELEASED STEP TOWARDS THE TARGET WITH THE BACK (THROWING SIDE) FOOT UNTIL THE FOOT IS "SQUARE" (EVEN) WITH THE FRONT (GLOVE SIDE) FOOT. Alternate back and forth.
- This drill is for practicing underhand throws. Underhand throws should be low and straight to the target. DO NOT THROW THE BALL UP IN AN ARC. Keep the body low. When making the throw point right at the target as the ball is released. Have four players stand in a square about 15-20 feet apart. One player has a ball and he/she begins by tossing it underhanded to the player on his/her right. That player receives the ball, turns and tosses it underhanded to the player on his/her right. This is continued until it has gone around the square right 3 times. Then the process is reversed with the players tossing the ball underhanded to the player on their left. This is continued until the ball has gone around the square left 3 times. To create a little competition you can either make 3 squares of four players each and have them race against each other or you can have one square at a time and time each one to see which group is the fastest. A variation of this drill adds a throwing element...After the players have gone around the 15-20 foot square 3 times right and 3 times left with underhand throws they run out to a square 60 feet apart and throw overhand (in a regular throwing motion)around the "big" square 3 times to the right and 3 times to the left. This helps to create "quick hands" which really means "quick feet" - the faster the player gets his/her feet in position to throw, the quicker the player will be able to make a good throw. If you incorporate the "big" square into your drill it is best to keep it to one group at a time and time each group to see which is the fastest.
- The best method of developing arm strength is "LONG TOSS". This exercise should be incorporated into the players' daily warm-up. After their light jog and stretching, begin with the players in two lines about 20 feet apart facing a partner. The players begin to throw properly to each other. Gradually move the players further and further back. THEY SHOULD ALWAYS THROW IN A DIRECT LINE TO THE TARGET OR IN A VERY LOW ARC. PLAYERS SHOULD NEVER THROW THE BALL UP IN A HIGH ARC. When a player reaches a distance where he/she cannot get the ball to the target on a line then that is the maximum distance that player should be. Over the season, as the players get stronger, each player's maximum distance will improve. IT IS IMPORTANT TO PARTNER PLAYERS WITH SIMILAR ARM STRENGTH.