Playing Catch & Proper Throwing
How to Play Catch
One of the most overlooked aspects of practice is playing catch. If during the game your team is struggling with making accurate throws, the time to work on it is during practice catch time. Regardless of what throwing program you use, it is imperative that the kids understand what the proper grip is, that they need to throw to a target and that they need to utilize proper throwing mechanics. If your players cannot hit their partner from seventy feet away in the chest consistently during practice, no way they will be able to make a 100-150 foot throw with the game on the line.
Take playing catch very seriously. First, show kids the proper 4-seam grip. You’ll be surprised as to how many do not know. A proper grip will allow the ball to be thrown straighter, harder and farther. Stress that the ball is not to be thrown unless they get the proper grip. Watch them throw all the time and make sure to check their grip frequently. The faster they can get at finding the grip without looking, the better. Seasoned baseball players are able to find this grip in their sleep and are able to spin the ball in their hands as they are throwing to get it. It takes practice.
Second, make sure they are throwing at a target. Start out with the kids trying to hit their partner in the chest, every time. As they progress, have them pick spots: right shoulder, left shoulder, head, etc. The better they can get at hitting spots in practice, the more accurate they will be in the game.
Lastly, make sure they are throwing with the proper form. Hitting your target is all about the release point of the ball. Without proper form, the release point will vary, leading to inconsistent throws. Proper form will also help in utilizing the entire body, put less stress on the arm and will get more on your throw.