(From ThinkPitching.com...)

Pitchers play catch almost every day of the season. For most, playing catch requires about as much thought as it takes to tie a shoe. The daily game of catch during practice often becomes a social hour among pitchers while they aim for nothing more than to “get their arms loose”.

But considering that this activity is part of the pitchers’ daily practice, why are pitchers NOT:

Putting more focus on it?
Striving to be experts at it?
Measuring if they are getting better at it?
The reason is that the importance of playing catch isn’t being stressed enough.

I’ve stated this concept before in my posts, a pitcher doesn’t get to throw pitches every day the way a basketball player gets to shoot free throws. Since a pitchers’ arm needs rest and recovery time, he needs to make the most of each time the ball is in his hand and understand it is an opportunity to get better.

So what are some strategies that pitchers can use during their daily game of catch to get the most mileage?

“Target Practice”: This should be the mentality of any throwing session. In the past, I’ve even encouraged pitching coaches to put a sign up in the bullpen reminding their pitchers to do this.

Bring in Competition: Any time you can bring competition into practice the better. For example, when pitchers are playing catch, throw to targets on their partner’s body and keep score. This competition allows pitchers to put purpose behind every throw and measure their progress. Targets could include the partner’s right and left shoulder, their chest, their belt, etc. Pitchers can even do this while throwing only off-speed pitches such as change-ups or curve balls. Make it a game up to 10, one point for each target hit, and whoever has the most at the end wins.

Work on a mechanical flaw: Pitchers always have something they want to improve in their mechanics, and there is no better time to work on it than when they have the opportunity to throw. A pitcher can focus on one mechanical aspect that he wants to improve and go about correcting it with live throws.

Test Lab: Some of the biggest discoveries happen for a pitcher during their daily game of catch. New York Yankee’s closer Marino Rivera discovered his legendary cutter while playing catch in the outfield one day. He put his hand off to the side of the ball, and his throwing partner couldn’t believe what he saw. Now, 500+ saves later, it is still one of the most dominate pitches in the game and it all started one day while playing catch. The same can happen to any pitcher. Move your hand around on the ball, put pressure on the ball in different ways you haven’t before, try different arm slots with your fastball, etc… You might be surprised by what you find.


ThinkPitching.com | http://twitter.com/ThinkPitching