Ball should be held in fingers (not palm)- place pads of fingers on seem and thumb on opposite side of ball in middle if possible. Practice finding the “C” on the ball and place 2-4 fingers along the top edge of the C. Have a firm grip with relaxed fingers. Typically, there will be a small gap between the ball and the base of the thumb.
Reverse Spin/Wrist Snap
With good grip, practice snapping ball off fingers. Hold ball high, with wrist cocked underneath (ball visible to birds). Snap wrist and roll ball off fingers trying to get a consistent reverse spin on the ball (using a strip of tape provides good feedback about the spin). A reverse spin will increase stability in flight (not curving too much), and encourage the ball to stay airborne a bit longer (4 seams turning up= trying to curve ball up).
Lower Body/Hip Rotation
The footwork sets the foundation for a balanced position where hip rotation can occur. This rotation will create much of the power of the throw.
To set up for the throw, the PIVOT foot (back foot-on the side of throwing hand), turns perpendicular to target. When learning, this can be a deliberate ´pre-stride´, and will be used for outfield throws. But will be more subtle for infielders (more a pivot). As ball is brought up and back, STRIDE foot (front foot-glove side) swings briefly across body to close the hips (so target can only see one hip). Athlete will push off pivot foot and take an extended walking step toward target with the stride foot. Foot will land softly/smoothly with toes pointed between 12 and 2 o´clock (for R handers), 10-12 o´clock (for L handers). Follow thru will have the pivot foot come forward and move to a position ready for fielding. On the follow thru, the throwing arm will come down to opposite leg and throwing shoulder will finish pointed toward target.
Common Faults (*Fault Identification*)
Often, there are only a few faults that appear consistently with athletes that struggle to generate good throws:
1. No hip rotation: throughout the throw, the person receiving the ball can see both hips because the thrower does not turn pivot foot. Instead, they walk into throw and force power to come from upper body.
2. Elbow is below shoulder height during throw: the thrower is not able to use the whip action of a long arm- instead, the throw appears like a shot-put and the power is greatly reduced.
3. Poor Grip and Snap: Ball will squirt out of hand due to poor grip; or the ball is in the palm- creating a change-up throw (losing a lot of the power of the snap). Or wrist is not cocked under ball.
4. No follow thru: thrower stops throwing actions as soon as ball is released. This will often cause the thrower to slow down arm speed prior to release (without even realizing it). For the coach, the follow thru can tell a lot about the throwing motion that is not visible during the throw. For example, the finishing position can tell the arm angle on release (if thrower is throwing side-arm)
5. No Shoulder Rotation: often caused by a “lazy glove” that stays at athlete´s side. In order to close shoulders, glove (or elbow) must point at target- this puts shoulders in a loaded position where they can rotate to generate power during the throw.