Making a strong throw to second can one of the best difficult plays a catcher has to make. Here are some tips to help backstops execute this important defensive play.
Two Types of Footwork
There are two types of throwing footwork that I will address: jump pivot and load and throw. Each type will be determined by the location of the pitch and the arm strength of the individual.
Jump Pivot Throw
If a ball is thrown right down the middle of the plate or towards the forehand, a catcher that does not posses great arm strength will utilize the jump pivot.
The jump pivot allows for a quicker release and is recommended for catchers with quick hands and a lack of great arm strength. The catcher will quickly shift their feet from parallel to second, to perpendicular to second.
Important note, the catcher will not move toward the right-handed hitter or away from the left-handed hitter. Their back foot will end up where their backside started, while their front foot will end up where their glove started.
A common error is for the catcher to move towards their glove and fall off balance. The catcher should assume a pole is running throughout the middle of their body.
They want to shift around the pole, not spin away from the pole. Another key is to make sure the catcher does not stand straight up on their first movement. Stay low and in a strong, athletic position. This will assist the catcher in staying on top of the baseball and throwing downhill toward the base.
Load and Throw
If a ball is thrown right down the middle of the plate or towards the backhand, a catcher that possesses arm strength will utilize the load and throw.
Catch the baseball while shifting weight to the back leg; the catcher must square their body to second. The catcher must still utilize a quick glove/hand exchange with the baseball and stay low to the ground in a strong, athletic position.
The catcher must get into a position where weight is on the back leg and the shoulders are squared to the base they are throwing off of. If the alignment is off, or the catcher has already stood up, the power that they possess in their throwing arm is lost.
It is important to mention at this time that a catcher must be proficient at both skills. The location of the baseball will dictate which footwork you use. The only exception is on a ball thrown to the middle of the catcher's body. On this throw, the catcher will determine which throwing footwork will be best for them.
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Jason Vittone is the head baseball coach of Brescia University. Jason has put together numerous clinics to give catchers of all ages a place to hone their skills.