Baseball throwing drills that develop the correct arm action

Baseball throwing drills may be the only chance kids have of changing their natural throwing patterns.

There is nothing more important for youth ballplayers than being able to throw a baseball with speed and accuracy, especially with major league field dimensions approaching at the high school level. In all my years of coaching baseball, rarely have I seen players capable of changing their throwing motion after a few years of incorrect throwing mechanics. It is necessary to develop correct throwing habits at a young age to develop arm strength and to avoid arm injury. The following baseball throwing drills will develop good mechanics, which leads to speed, accuracy, and freedom from injury.

Baseball Throwing Drills for Correct Throwing Mechanics

1. Grip – Developing the correct grip is the initial key to great mechanics. The ability to keep the middle finger and thumb in the center of the ball, as the fingertips go across the 4 seams of the ball is important for backspin, speed, and accuracy. A three finger grip is recommended for youngsters until they can do the above with their release. Usually around 9 or ten years old, depending on the size of the player’s hand, is when they can handle the two finger on-top grip.

2. Backspin Drill – With the above grip, players set their elbow shoulder height and practice flipping the ball up in the air with as much backspin on the ball
baseball throwing drills

Self-backspin drill

as possible. Controlling the release of the flipped ball, so they do not have to chase the ball after flipping it, is the goal. With practice, players should try to flip it higher and higher in the same manner. Of course, this drill also works on a player’s knee while flipping the ball to a partner, a wall, or a backstop at a short distance. Both drills will develop a fingertip feel for the ball, which is necessary for accuracy. In addition, the faster the rotation on the ball with the correct backspin, the better and it will help speed. Attention to detail, so thrower’ elbow is shoulder height is essential.

3. Set-up and direction drill– Using three cardboard cutouts develops the correct and crucial footwork for throwing speed and accuracy. Throwers begin with their feet square upon catching the ball, step into the second box with a complete rotation of the throwing-arm side foot, and then step into the third box, which is directly at the target. Without a direct step, the thrower’s hips will not function correctly causing a lack of accuracy and power. The length of the step will be determined by the distance of the throw and will develop naturally, with the key being the direction. Players should land with the ball of the foot striking the ground first to prevent an early opening of the hips.

Throwing fundamentals

Cardboard cut outs for footwork

Similarly, drawing a direct line from the lead foot towards the target or setting down a couple of objects for the player to step in between is a good practice drill to reinforce the correct step. An indirect step is the most common area of break down in a player’s throwing fundamentals, especially on longer throws. **** Players should practice pointing their front elbow at the target and not their glove, as that will help keep them closed, too. Have players follow the direction of their elbow as they step.

Other Key Baseball Throwing Drills

4. Arm Swing drill

With player standing with their feet in a direct line and front shoulder facing the target, the coach holds a ball up at ear level and player’s arms distance away. The player reaches back and grabs the ball from the coach before looking at the target and throwing to it. This drill promotes the correct arm motion of the thumb breaking down and the fingers on top of the ball with the wrist and hand facing away from the target on the arm backswing.
5. 2nd Arm Swing drill – Similar to above, with player standing with their feet in a direct line and front shoulder facing the target,
baseball throwing drills

Arm swing drill to keep thumb under and fingers on top of ball

the player takes the ball out of their glove and reaches back and sets the ball against the raised coach’s hand, before looking at the target and throwing to it. This drill is the next step in promoting the correct arm motion of the thumb under and fingers on top, with the wrist and hand facing away from the target on the arm path.
5. Follow through drill – Set the throwers rear foot on a chair and have them make some throws. This drill forces a weight transfer and follow through with the arm. It is necessary that throwers allow their arm to travel the complete path so the body can alleviate some of the stress of the arm action on the shoulder and to prevent aiming the ball. This is done by the players throwing arm finishing at his opposite side hip, thigh or knee and by having his rear leg come up and forward as they throw. Like hitting, this weight transfer and full rotation of the hips puts power into the throw.
baseball throwing drills

leg up to help weight transfer and follow through after release

To make sure player follows through and does not start aiming the ball, have player slap their glove side hip after release. Players, who are working on pitching, should slap their glove side thigh or knee on the follow through with the longer stride of pitching.
With all baseball throwing drills, players must perform the same arm action with the front side arm also, with the thumbs breaking under.  Players should gradually increase speed and distance of throws until they are able to perform the correct mechanics at all distances.
When a coach is unavailable, players can practice by setting balls in a bucket and placing the bucket behind them. They can practice taking the ball out of the bucket and dropping balls into the bucket. This action also gives them
the proper motion of fingers staying on top of the ball on takeaway.

Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is now available. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 120 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos. 

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