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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Step and Throw

“Step and Throw!"  If you were/are a pitcher, how many times have you heard that phrase on a ball hit back to you?  How many times have you said it as a coach?  A wonderful friend to any pitcher is an easily fielded ball hit back to them.  This is especially “friendly” when the pitcher needs a double play.  Of course, we’ve all seen this “easy” play turn into a disaster when the pitcher throws the ball down the right field line or into center field and gets nobody out. “Stepping and throwing” is good advice on these plays for one obvious reason and another reason that isn’t so obvious but just as important nonetheless.    

Practicing the pitcher's best friend.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
In my opinion, most throwing errors are the result of poor footwork.  Anything a pitcher can do to gather his weight and balance, set his feet properly, step towards the target, and follow through correctly is going to result in a more accurate, powerful throw.  Saying “step and throw” is a shorter way of expressing the need to do all of the above.

But there is a second reason why “stepping and throwing” is valuable on these types of plays especially those that require the pitcher to throw to second base to start a double play.  Some pitchers are in such a hurry to turn the double play that they catch the ground ball, turn, and throw to second base very quickly.  Because second base is fairly close to the mound, it usually becomes a fairly easy throw to make.  The problem that often arises is that the pitcher does not give the shortstop enough time to get to the bag.  The “step and throw” or “crow-hop” after catching the ball and before throwing allows the shortstop enough time to reach the bag.  In this case, the pitcher’s footwork is sometimes more for the shortstop than for the pitcher.

Good footwork before the throw helps pitchers with their throws and also improves the timing of allowing their teammates to be in a better position to make the catch and make a strong, accurate throw of their own.

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