BY JERRY WEINSTEIN, Catching Coach for Colorado Rockies
If it’s a running situation, your thought process is “the runner is running on every pitch” so your anticipation is the key. The set-up is much the same as in a non-running situation (see Sparta Point). Make sure that your knees are not tipped inside, your feet are flat with your toes slightly pointed out, and your throwing hand is near your glove. Get as close to the hitter as you can.
The prerequisite of successfully throwing out runners is to
- have a clear throwing lane
- momentum moving in the direction of the throw
- get the ball airborne quickly with velocity and accuracy
Make sure that you maintain a clear throwing lane so that you do not have to alter your release.
2. Momentum Towards Target
Before you initiate your momentum step, you must read the direction of the pitch so that you don’t start your body in the wrong direction on an errant pitch.
- Start your body moving in the direction of the throw just as or before you catch the ball.
Ideally it’s a “slide-step, catch, throw” move. The move is more of a short shuffle or slide than a pick your foot up and put it down step.
- The shortness of the shuffle with the right foot is critical.
You can’t throw until your left foot plants and if your initial movement with your right foot is long, it takes that much longer to get your left foot down.
- Make sure that your right foot toe is closer to your target than the heel of your right foot.
This tips your right knee inside your right foot which directs your FORCE (GRF) to your target.
3. Get the ball airborne quickly with velocity and accuracy
- Catch the ball deep and into your body
As opposed to up to the plate as you would in a non-running situation when the priority is getting every strike called a strike. Catching the ball deeper makes for a quicker transfer. Being extended and having to bring your hands back to separate the ball from your glove to throw is slower than just waiting for the ball to get to you because the ball moves faster than your hands move.
- Start separating ball from the glove in front of your body.
Ideally your throwing hand is close to your glove & slightly below your glove so that the ball can be dropped into your throwing hand. Your throwing hand should be wide open. The throwing grip is attained as you are bringing the ball up to the high cocked position.
- Your head must remain still with your eyes parallel to the ground.
If you initiate your throwing action with your front side or dive with your head, you’ll have alignment problems and you will be out of sequence. Any head tilt detracts from applying force towards your target and is usually a result of over throwing.