Sure, a catcher is called a catcher because that’s what they do right? Correct. But they also need to have a good arm and the ability to throw fast and accurately to catch baserunners stealing, leading off or trying to take an extra base. In fact, many catchers have some of the best arms on their team.
Throwing as Important as Receiving
Throwing the ball is an important skill for any player in baseball but may be one of the most important attributes a good catcher can possess. Most major league scouts will rate a potential prospect higher if he shows the ability to throw out baserunners consistently.
They even measure it in a stat called pop time – the time from the pitch “popping” the mitt to the infielder receiving the throw. If you can get your pop time below two seconds in high school you will turn heads.
Here is some information that can help improve your ability to throw out runners.
Throwing Fundamentals For Catchers
Footwork For Fast and Accurate Throws
Footwork is one of the most important aspects in making a good throw. The first move a catcher will make (assuming a right-handed catcher) is to step with their right foot first with the inside of the foot facing second base. They will then bring their left foot forward and will make sure their left hip and left shoulder are square to the target. For throws to second base, the catcher should be standing on a line directly behind the pointed part of home plate.
This is the best drill for getting the footing down when throwing to 2nd base. You can practice it anywhere, outside or inside and helps you keep balance and focus when in the game. Learn more about it below.
For throws, the grip is another important fundamental. To be as accurate as possible with your throw, a proper grip is needed. Catchers should always try to maintain a grip that covers the seams, similar to a pitcher throwing a four-seam fastball. Using a four-seam grip is something catchers should practice whenever throwing. This grip will give them the best control of the throw so that it is as straight and accurate as possible.
Another key fundamental is for the catcher to maintain the ready stance and not get too anxious when they see the runner is going. Catch the ball first while in your stance and don’t rise up too early, especially not before you catch the ball.
The position of the catcher’s hands is important in order to begin the throwing motion and get rid of the ball quickly. The glove hand is positioned in the target position, normally slightly above knee high, while the throwing hand is placed behind the glove. It is important to keep the throwing hand close to the glove through the whole process and for the catcher not to drop their hands during the exchange of the ball from the glove to the hand.
Throws to Second Base
For throws to second base, the catcher normally will not have to worry about the batter getting in the way of the throw. This will allow the catcher to get into the throwing stance by positioning themselves directly behind the middle of the plate.
Footwork Throwing to Second Base
There are a couple types of steps that catchers can use to get the throw going. A quick jab-step is one option. Taking a short step with your back foot in the direction of the target will help you get your momentum started as you stride with your front leg to throw.
Throwing From Knees
This is a more advanced skill but definitely can save you time during your throw. This skill is not for everybody but is fun and is something every catcher should try. The hardest part is generating power on your throw. If you can’t generate enough on your throws, you can always throw while standing! It starts with practice and being agile and quick! There’s more tips on how to throw from your knees in our video below! Please try at home…
Another motion, referred to as the “Rock and Throw”, has the catcher planting his right foot where he caught the ball, turning towards the target while transferring his weight to the back leg, and stepping into the throw.
Catcher Throws to Third Base
Because the majority of batters are right-handed, the throw to third requires a different approach for the catcher before releasing the ball. They won’t be able to set up directly behind the plate or they risk hitting the batter with the throw.
Footwork Throwing to Third Base
The recommended way for a catcher to throw to third is to get around the batter. This can be accomplished by the catcher using a drop-step with their right foot to step behind and around the batter to get a clear view of third base. However, this is usually only recommended for pitches over the middle or on the inside part of the plate.
For a pitch on the outside of the plate, the catcher will need to “step out” towards the outside of the plate to make the throw. This throw is a little longer and a bit tougher to make but is your only option based on the location of the pitch.
Catcher Throws to First Base
Sometimes the runner on first will get to big od a secondary lead and you will want to throw the ball to first to pick him off.