This blog is dedicated to bringing players, coaches, parents, and fans the finer points of the game of baseball.

Click here for an explanation of "By the Yard."

Have a question or recommendation for a future post? Email me at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tips for an underhand toss

There are a number of plays in baseball that require an underhand toss:
Ranger pitcher CJ Wilson
  • A first baseman tossing the ball to the pitcher covering first.
  • A pitcher fielding a hard hit bunt on the first base side and tossing it to the first baseman.
  • A pitcher tossing the ball to the catcher on a squeeze bunt.
  • A shortstop tossing the ball to second base on a double play or force out.
  • A second baseman tossing the ball to the shortstop on a double play or force out.
Like everything else in baseball, there are a lot of little things that go into a simple throw like an underhand toss.  Here are a few to make it the best it can be.

Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira
Get your glove out of the way. Some players make the mistake of keeping their glove too close to the ball when they throw a ball underhand.  This makes it tough for the receiver to see where the ball is coming from.  After catching the ball, put your glove on or near your hip so the fielder clearly sees your throwing hand and where the ball is coming from.

Step to your target when you toss.  Standing still and tossing underhand tends to make your arm swing too high or not high enough.  Catch the batted ball, step towards your target, and underhand while you are moving to the target.

Former Tigers shortstop 
Adam Everett
Don't let your arm go above parallel.  When you swing your arm up to toss, make sure your arm doesn't go too high.  Stop it at the parallel mark.  An arm that stops before that will tend to toss the ball too low.  An arm that stops higher than that tends to put too much arc on the ball or throw it too high.

"Shake his hand." Recoiling after letting go of the ball screws up your accuracy.  After tossing the ball, stop your arm at the parallel mark and keep it there as you move to the target as if you are going to shake the hand of the person you are throwing to.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard
No arcs.  Firm, line drive tosses only.  A toss with too much arc will get there slower and usually is too high to handle easily and quickly.

Keep your head still.  By "still" I mean do not lift it up as you are throwing.  From the start of your toss to the finish, keep your head at the same height from the ground.  Picking your head up brings your arm up as well which creates an arc.

Chest high.  Aim for the chest.  It is more easily seen and handled by your teammate.

Throw and go.  Continue moving in a straight line towards your target after tossing to improve accuracy.

As you can see, even a simple play like an underhand toss involves a lot of little things that must be done consistently to get the most out of it for you and your teammate.


  1. Just read your tip on an underhand toss and it was excellent. I coach Little League and we always debate at what distance should a Little Leaguer make the choice to go to an short overhand toss vs underhand toss. I know it depends on their ability to some extent, but all things being equal isn't there some distance "rule" that it is just quicker to do one over the other? It is painful to watch some of them try an underhand from 20 feet and watch it arc upwards.

  2. Very true! The 20 foot toss is very painful to watch!
    The rule I've used with the underhand toss, at least for double plays, is that if the SS or 2B has to move even an inch towards the bag to field the ground ball, they underhand it. This takes advantage of their momentum. Having them stop any momentum in order to throw overhand or side arm is awkward and usually causes accuracy problems. Thanks for the comment!