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Throwing Practice- Not Warming Up!!

If you go to any little league baseball complex and observe pre-game warmups, you may see a group of 12 players playing more fetch than catch.  Inaccurate throws and uncommitted catching result in sloppy games of catch, leading to inconsistent play on the field in practices and games.

We learn quickly in college and professional baseball how important our throwing practice is to our performance on the field.  Establishing solid routines during our throwing practice is where we learn how to be consistent with our throwing mechanics, improve arm strength and make accurate throws on the field.

There are many different throwing programs that will work for the youth and high school athlete, but the structure or routine, used consistently is the key to success.  Each player must take on the philosophy of building mechanics every day during the throwing practice.  It is not a “warm up”, but an opportunity to practice mechanics and prepare for strong throws and catches in the game.  

Below is a sample throwing practice that can be used at the beginning of practice or pre-game warmup.

Throwing Practice- Youth Players (Ages 13 and below)

  1. Flip Drill (2 min at 20 ft.)
  2. Power Position Drill (3 min at 45 ft.)
  3. Lob Toss (3 min at 60-70ft)
  4. QB Throws (2 min at 60-70ft)
  5. Field to Throw (3 min at 60-70ft)- Option:  Pitch to Target
  6. Option:  Long toss (3 min at 80-90ft)

Throwing Practice- Standard (Ages 14 and up)

  1. Flip Drill (2 min at 20 ft.)
  2. Power Position Drill (3 min at 45 ft.)
  3. Lob Toss- Short Hops (3 min at 70ft)
  4. QB Throws (2 min at 60-70ft)
  5. Field to Throw (3 min at 60-70ft)- Option:  Pitch to Target
  6. 2-3 Days/week Option:  Long toss (3 min at 100ft)

Flip Drill
Players stand 15-20 feet apart, facing each other.  Hold ball in “L” position where throwing elbow is to side of body at shoulder height.  From this position, use the levers of wrist and fingers to create backspin on the ball in an easy throw to the partner.  

Keys:  

  1. Stay in an athletic position for throws and catches
  2. Keep fingers behind the ball with 4-seam grip to create perfect backspin
  3. Glove is in “end position” tucked at glove side of body at armpit
  4. Keep shoulders still- No shoulder turn
  5. Focus on using the “hinges” of wrist and fingers to create maximum backspin

Power Position Drill

Video Examples:  Power Position Drill Explained     

Keys:  

  1. Set feet in stride position (slightly wider than shoulder width)
  2. Weight back – Head over back foot
  3. Glove Out and Up- Pocket of glove facing the target and slightly higher than shoulder height
  4. Pause at this Power Position with weight back, ball back, and glove out
  5. No Stride Turn and Throw- from the Power Position, pull glove in elbow first to turn shoulders, and throw
  6. Back foot toe stays on the ground and foot rotates to shoelaces facing ground position
  7. Nose goes to the target, and chest is out over front knee

Lob Toss

  1. Thrower lobs the ball to partner, while partner moves feet under the ball to catch.
  2. Thrower focuses on front side (glove) mechanics, nose and chin to target.
  3. Receiver focuses on tracking ball and moving feet to get under the ball, catching ball above head if possible
  4. Lob Toss Short Hop Drill for older players- Player catching the ball must position himself for a short hop, moving feet in position and move through the short hop for a successful catch

QB Throws
Purpose of this drill to get the players to move athletically and have active feet to throw.  

  1. Thrower drops back two steps, plants, and quickly shuffles/hops into throw.
  2. Focus on front side (glove) action and active feet
  3. Follow throw with nose and chin

Field to Throw
Purpose of this drill is to simulate game movement from fielding position of ground ball to set feet to throw.

Keys:

  1. Start in fielding position with glove on the ground in front of feet
  2. Right-Left step to throw
  3. 5 throws from middle, 5 from forehand (hard step to the left, touch glove to the ground, set feet and throw, five from backhand fielding position.

Pitchers Option:  Work through pitching mechanics and locate pitches to either hip of partner.

This is  one of many examples of a set of drills to set our mechanics each day for added arm strength and accurate throws.  The structure and commitment to a throwing routine to prepare for on field performance is the key to success.  Every Throw has a purpose!!  

See you on the field!!

Brad Woodall

Owner- Woodall Baseball Academy and Silver Sluggers Baseball

 

Are You Prepared for the “Game of Your Life”

Are You Prepared for the Big Moment?

It is rare that we can enjoy the magnitude of a game 7 in the World Series. As we anticipate watching a big game like this as a young player, we often miss an opportunity to improve our ability to handle the pressure of the “game of your life”.

  • Every young player should ask themselves the following “What if” questions while watching the game tonight:
  • What if I were preparing to play in Game 7 of the World Series?
  • What would I do the day of the game?
  • What would the crowd sound like during the game?
  • How would I be able to communicate with my teammates during a play with all of the crowd noise? Reference Game 6, 1st inning in the Indians outfield.
  • What if I had to pitch to Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant? What pitches would I throw? Imagine yourself making great pitches and getting them out.
  • How would I be able to control my emotions and excitement during the game?
  • How would I be able to keep my focus in the moment rather than the importance of the game?
  • What if I were up to the plate in the 8th inning of this game, down by one and Aroldis Chapman is pitching? How could I control my breathing and feel confortable in the batters box? What strategies could I use to catch up to a 100 MPH fastball?

Answering these questions, among many others you could ask yourself, is a great way to prepare yourself for a big game environment. In these games on a big stage, the hardest part is not the game itself, but how to manage the environment surrounding the game. The pre-game excitement is very different; the crowd noise is vastly different. Each moment in the game takes on an importance that is invigorating and exhausting at the same time.

The key to handling these situations is simply having the ability to stay calm and play the game without distraction. If you are prepared for the environment, and you can eliminate the environmental surprises during a big game, you can focus on the competition of the game itself.

This is what great players do. They are able to weed out the distractions and focus on why they are there, to compete on the field against other great players and teams. Simulating these situations in your head, putting yourself in World Series, game 7- while watching the game, taking batting practice, throwing a bullpen, or playing wiffle ball in the backyard are all ways to help you prepare for the big sports moments in your life.

Great players do not wait for someone to get them prepared….they prepare themselves over and over again…until it actually happens.

Challenge yourself to watch the game tonight differently…and prepare yourself for the big games that are coming up in your career.

— Brad Woodall
Owner, Woodall Baseball Academy and Silver Sluggers Baseball