Thursday Throwing Tips – Line up for Success on Defense
The concept of cutoffs and relays are often misunderstood – relays are for outfielders when they retrieve balls deep in the outfield and they need a relay (infielder) to get the ball back to the infield. Cut-off throws are when throwing to a base and players are in line just in case the throw is inadequate, either off line or lacking in distance.
Relay throws are self-explanatory because the ball needs to get to the relay-infielder with a firm throw. However, cut offs throws are often mistaken for relay throws.
Good baseball coaching suggests that players “hit the cut off man.” However, cutoff men are there as a guide to the base where the ball is to be thrown, not as the objective of the throw. Most kids, and many youth baseball coaches, think the cut off player is their target, when it should be the base.
Good baseball coaches teach players to throw the ball to the base and hopefully, “through” the cut off, but not to them. When the ball is thrown to the base, coaches can notice if the cut-off is in the correct place or not.
Some players seem to have a good sense of a direct line, which is the shortest distance between two points. Other ballplayers are straight-line challenged, for whatever reasons. By having players throw to the base, coaches can easily notice players who do not line up correctly. Coaching the difference between these two throws as well as practicing cutoffs and relays, should be a season long occurrence for youth baseball coaches.