Thursday Throwing Tips
Sometimes, all that is necessary to help kids gain more speed and throwing accuracy is by changing their grip, so the correct ball spin occurs. Spin recognition is the first clue that players’ grips are incorrect.
Key Baseball-throwing Information
- Kids hand sizes vary and small hands have trouble gripping balls correctly, leading to inadequate spin and speed on balls. Even kids with good size hands often grip balls incorrectly, so coaches should not take this for granted.
- Once incorrect, throwing habits may be the most difficult ones to change of all baseball skills, and bigger hands do not always solve the incorrect grip problem.
- It is difficult for players to know if they are getting the correct spin on the ball, as correct rotation is difficult know and to notice. For that reason, it is important that coaches play warm-up catch with all players, from time to time, so they notice when ball rotation is correct or not. Occasional follow up catch to see if improvement comes, is important, also.
Baseball Throwing Tips for Correct Spin
- For young players, the three-finger grip should be encouraged until their hand size dictates they can keep two fingers on top of the ball and through the middle of it through release point.
- Placing a half inch or inch strip of black tape through the middle of the ball is a good way to notice correct spin.
- The self-flip drill, when players flip balls up in the air to themselves, with their elbow shoulder height, helps players recognize and practice correct ball rotation.
- Having players throw long distance to notice which way balls hop after hitting the ground indicates the type spin on the ball.
- Along with incorrect throwing grips, bad ball rotation comes from the incorrect hand position on players’ arm- backswings. It is paramount that players keep their fingers on top of the ball on the back swing and through ball release. This key throwing fundamental takes a good amount of time and practice to correct, when incorrect.
Sometimes the only way to correct players with incorrect ball rotation is by having them do the opposite of what they normally do. For instance, players who have natural slider spin on the ball, should act as if they are throwing a screw ball, the opposite hand action, in order to compensate for the slider spin, until the correct spin becomes natural. Furthermore, gaining correct control of ball spin is one of the reasons why I encourage all youth ballplayers to practice pitching, whether they pitch in games or not. Pitching works on grips, accuracy, speed and balance, all necessary for good throwing mechanics.