If you’re an aspiring baseball catcher, it’s important that you can swiftly jump up from a full squat and throw out a runner on second base. You should also be able to throw them out without jumping up or down on your knees.
This is a learned skill that takes time, practice and persistence to master. Even the most talented baseball catchers weren’t able to naturally pull this maneuver off right from the start.
The key to this action is to increase your arm strength. Baseball or softball catchers don’t typically get as many days off as pitchers or other players, so it’s important to train so that you can protect yourself from injuring or overworking your arm. Here are a few drills that can help catchers of any age increase their arm strength, pop time, and throwing speed.
Stretch the ArmMany young baseball players skip this incredibly crucial part of training. Far too often, young baseball catchers do not stretch their arms enough and end up earning themselves an overuse injury and a seat on the bench.
Stretching is an essential part of building up your strength though. Flexibility and arm strength go hand in hand. The right training program will include ample time to stretch your arms in addition to building up the muscle.
Great stretches include cross body shoulder stretches, overhead tricep and shoulder stretches, and arm circles. You can also use surgical tubing.
Using Surgical TubingWhen baseball catchers use surgical tubing, as opposed to heavy weights, it helps them train for serious throwing, while protecting the shoulder muscle. This allows the baseball catcher to focus on strengthening and stretching the front and back of the shoulder muscles. Surgical tubing is an inexpensive and simple tool that is easy to slip into your custom catchers bag and bring with you wherever you go.
Arm CirclesArm circles warm and oxygenate the shoulder, while providing good flexibility and range of motion. This exercise also strengthens the smaller, weaker rotator cuff muscles. Arm circles also provide muscle balance, create endurance and promote better recovery periods. Make sure before games and practices to get in a few arm circles before actually throwing.
Long TossFor someone who is new to long toss, it might take a couple of weeks at a relatively short distance to strengthen and lengthen the arm to where it feels good before moving on to a longer distance and strengthening phase. Practice throws at a shorter distance and then keep moving back, until you are at a sufficient distance. Each week continue to back up and eliminate short hops. By practicing throwing at different distances, you’ll develop the muscle so that you have sufficient arm strength to throw anywhere on the field.
Fast TossAnother great way to build arm strength and improve your throw is to practice quick tossing. Have a partner stand 10-20 ft. apart from you and rapidly toss the baseball back and forth between each other. Your aim should be to toss the baseball right, but with quick and solid strength.
Wrist Throwing ExerciseIt is very obvious that when pitching and throwing wrist strength plays a vital role. If you have a strong wrist you will be able to throw harder, quick, farther and with less fatigue. A simple, yet great wrist exercise is to position your forearm at a 90-degree angle to your shoulder and hold a baseball in your hand. Now support your elbow with your other hand and throw the baseball by only using your wrist. A few tosses every day will add significant strength to your wrist.
Improving Pull-Down TechniqueOnce your arm and shoulder is warmed up and loose from long toss practice, one of the next techniques to work on is the pulling down aspect of the throw. This is the key to increasing your speed. The pull down is the whip action that gets the ball to the glove as fast as possible. You should only work on increasing the speed of your pull down technique when your arm is fully warmed up and stretched.
When you start practicing your pull down technique, you and your friend, teammate or partner should move closer together. Pay attention to the speed of your arm when you pull down and try to speed it up. Slowing down the arm slows down the ball.
When you practice hard and push yourself to get stronger, better, and faster, you’ll eventually be able to throw accurately and successfully from 300 feet. And you’ll be able to throw out a runner at second base without a moment wasted.