Throwing is the most flashy, exciting, and memorable aspect of catching. In fact, many college and pro coaches will rate this as their #1 priority because of their desire to control the running game. Catchers must make consistent, quick, and accurate throws using a complex motion with a lot of moving parts. What’s more, the clock is king and a mere 0.1 second can make all the difference.
Throwing is the skill that happens the least in a typical game, however it is often to most memorable and the most highly valued. In order to become the best thrower you can possibly become, there is one principle to remember and three fundamentals that you must work on mastering.
THE key principle that every catcher must remember at all times is this: THE CLOCK IS KING.
What do we mean by that?
Catchers are measured by their pop times. A pop time is measured using a stopwatch, and it measures the time it takes for the ball to get from the catcher’s glove to the middle infielders glove after the throw. The clock starts as soon as the ball hits the catchers glove, and stops as soon as the middle infielder catches it.
For your quick reference, here are some general guidelines for pop times per level:
- MLB: <1.9
- NCAA D1: 1.90-2.0
- High School Varsity: 2.0-2.2
As you can see, the difference between an MLB and a high school catcher is less an 0.5 seconds. In real-world time, that is nothing. In the baseball world, though, the gap between high school and the MLB is enormous.
In order to throw well as a catcher, you must be both quick and accurate. Every time I talk about throwing with catchers I remind them that the two most important things in throwing are:
- Quickness: The Clock is King. Nothing else really matters if you cannot get the ball down to second base quickly enough.
- Accuracy: Even though quickness is essential, catchers must also be accurate. You could have the best pop time in the world, but if you throw the ball into center field every time you will never throw somebody out.
Quickness and accuracy are two sides of the same coin, and they are the key to effective throwing.
One last thing to keep in mind before we dive into the specific fundamentals:
[shareable]In throwing out runners, the difference between the best and the rest is in the details.[/shareable]
As we touched on above, the difference between an MLB and High School catcher is a mere 0.3 seconds. Every little detail matters when throwing because the currency is literally hundredths of seconds.
We know this post is more abstract and philosophical and you are probably looking for some nuts and bolts fundamentals, but we have to start here. If a catcher does not understand that the Clock is King and that every detail matters, the physical work will not be as effective.
Now that we have established the first and most important principle of throwing, the next few posts will be walking through the physical keys to throwing.
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