The Most Exciting Thing In Baseball?
Throwing out baserunners is one of the most exciting, memorable things that a catcher does. We are obviously biased here at Catcher University, but we would argue that it’s one of the most exciting things in all of baseball. When you look up highlight videos of catchers you’ll find that they are almost exclusively of them throwing out baserunners.
On top of being the most exciting and memorable thing a catcher does, it’s also the most heavily evaluated. Every catcher is measured by their pop time (pop time = the time it takes the ball to get from the catchers glove to the glove of the middle infielder at 2nd base). Every tryout, showcase, and scouting profile includes the pop time, and many coaches/scouts will not even recruit a catcher that does not have a pop time that matches what they are looking for.
In other words, your ability as a catcher to throw out runners with the quickest possible pop time goes without saying. Naturally, then, that begs the question – how do you throw out more runners and Conquer the Clock by lowering your pop time?
If you break down throwing to its absolute simplest goal it is this: get the ball to 2nd base as quickly and accurately as possible.
While that looks like a simple goal on paper there are a lot of factors that make this seemingly simple goal one of the most challenging skills to master in all of baseball. In this post, we are going to focus on the most important thing for your footwork to help you Conquer the Clock, lower your pop time, and throw out more baserunners.
The Most Important Thing About Throwing Footwork
We fundamentally believe that catchers should be getting momentum towards their target when they throw. Quickness is essential, but catchers also need to be able to use their legs and make the strongest throw they possibly can while still being quick.
In order to establish forward momentum, we teach a small jab step 2-3 inches in front of the toes, right in the middle of the body. If you were to draw a straight line from your chin down to the ground while in your secondary stance, that would be the exact spot where the first step takes place. This step establishes forward momentum to help get the legs into the throw, but it also keeps the step short enough so that it remains quick. Taking too big of a step forward takes too much time. Stepping behind or in a square shaped motion can create too much rotational momentum. Stepping right under the chin is the most ideal spot for the first step.
(Note: some elite level catchers do step under their body or slightly behind themselves, but they have elite arm strength and are still able to establish forward momentum. Most catchers need a 2-3 inch step forward to generate enough strength and momentum, but either way, the principle of establishing forward momentum applies across the board).
If You Don’t Remember Anything Else…
When you are working on your footwork for your throws begin by focusing on your first step. If you are simply able to get your right foot down quickly and establish forward momentum + leg drive with your first step, then much of the rest of your throw will fall into place. This first step is like the first in a line of dominos – get this right and its much easier for the rest of your throwing technique to fall into place.
We teach stepping right under your chin, and when you break down most throws you’ll see this type of step. Some catchers step under or even slightly behind, but again, remember that establishing forward momentum with your leg drive is absolutely essential to Conquer the Clock, lower your pop time, and throw out more baserunners.
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