Coaching Throwing Fundamentals are Key
As with all baseball skills, coaching throwing fundamentals is not easy and patience is key. Few kids will pick up a ball at a young age and just throw the ball correctly. What’s important to know though is that when kids have or develop incorrect throwing habits at a young age, it is very difficult to change them so coaching the following throwing drills at a young age is necessary. These throwing drills develop fundamentals that give players a chance at reaching maximum arm strength while staying injury free. It is important to note that many more repetitions are possible before fatigue sets in by using a lighter weight ball. Performing the drills in the order shown is best for beginners. Coaching throwing fundamentals should be done in warm-up time, so kids do not reinforce bad throwing mechanics from the start, even when lobbing baseballs.
Having kids put their back against a wall and flapping the arms in the manner shown is a nice way to loosen up, along with establishing arm swing motion and step direction. It also helps kids understand that both arms rise to throw. Putting kids on a line is another way of establishing direction.
Getting the feel of how the ball comes off the hand with backspin begins with this ball flip drill – by lying on the back kids will not be able to throw sidearm and can see the ball come off their hand. As kids get a good feel for the ball they can practice throwing it higher, of course with the goal of controlling the ball so they do not have to move to catch it.
Coaching Throwing Fundamentals Drills
The ball on the floor helps initiate the crucial movement of turning the thumb down initially as it will be very difficult to pick the ball up in any other manner. All good throwing fundamentals are dependent on this thumb turning down.
To continue developing the correct arm action, coaches hold a ball up around the player’s ear level and directly behind them. Players grab the ball, look at the target, and rotate their wrist, as the arm moves forward. At this point, coaches should make sure kids grip the ball, with the correct finger placement on the ball.
The next drill has players take the ball out of their glove and place it against the coach’s palm before throwing. For kids who still drop their throwing elbow, the coach can place his hand under the elbow to help them keep the elbow from dropping.
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Lower Body Throwing Fundamentals Tips
Of course, the lower body action and footwork must be correct, also. Teaching this with a few cardboard cutouts, as seen here, works well. Kids may have to watch the cutouts at first so they step inside the boxes until it becomes natural when they should work on the footwork without looking. The crucial component of good throwing mechanics and an often-made mistake is an insufficient turn of the throwing side foot to where the front shoulder does not point at their target. Notice the middle box is set at ninety degrees from the initial boxes. This box throwing drill helps kids achieve that ninety-degree turn and a direct step with their stride foot. This is a good way to teach footwork for the crow hop also, as seen here. Finally, having kids set their foot up on an object and throwing helps, so they transfer their weight and get their head and chest out front.
The good news, like learning to ride a bike, once players learn correctly they won’t forget how to do it.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 28 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” 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.