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Evaluating a Catchers Throw to 2nd

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  • Evaluating a Catchers Throw to 2nd

    Below is the technique that I use to evaluate catchers throws.

    A catcher's throw down to second base to catch a potential base stealer is in essence a three-part skill that can be evaluated for strengths and weaknesses and improved. The three components are: (1) Ball Control and Release Efficiency, (2) In-Flight Velocity, and (3) Accuracy.

    On average a catcher's success rate is just twenty-five percent (25%) and, at best, around fifty percent (50%). Each of the three components of the throw contributes to the success or failure. Without evaluating each part and just practicing the throw, success will only increase slightly. The following is the three-part evaluation process, presented in reverse order.

    (3) Accuracy is the easiest to evaluate and most observable component, irrespective of the other two parts. Rating a catcher on this portion is just a matter of noting whether or not the ball arrives at the 9" x 18" target some 127 feet away. Practice usually results in improvement unless the throwing mechanics are completely wrong. A simple observation of the act of throwing will tell you if the catcher is doing it right or wrong.

    (2) In-Flight Velocity -- Once I get the player's arm warmed-up to game readiness, I have him make six (6) throws from a crow hop. He can use whatever mechanics he likes to generate the maximum velocity he can. I time that on the Radar Gun. I get six (6) readings; I throw out the fastest, and the slowest, and average the other four (4). This gives me an average maximum velocity. I then have him get into his crouch. I throw him pitches down the middle and have him throw down full speed. I again have him do this six (6) times and use the same method to determine his average maximum throw down velocity.

    After timing over 1000 catchers this way I have found that a drop in velocity of less than three percent (3%) from maximum velocity to throw down velocity is the goal. More of a drop then that and there is something in that player's mechanics of his throw to second base that is excessively "eating" velocity. At that point a close evaluation of those mechanics is needed.

    Velocity is all over the map for me when I look at the database of players I have timed. If I look at the high school maximum velocity player's as a group the low side is in the low 60's, good for high school players would be low-mid 70's, and excellent would be 78 to 82. In the college group the low side is 70 to 74, good would fall in 75 to 79, excellent would be 80 to 84, and 85+ would be a serious prospect as far as velocity goes.

    (1) Ball Control and Release Efficiency -- To evaluate this component I use the following technique. I position the player in front of the Backdrop (tarp) that hangs behind home plate in our batting cage. I measure out ten (10) feet and draw a line. (It must always be ten feet.) The player puts his toes on the line facing the tarp. The coach kneels in front of the catcher, slightly off center. The player gets into his secondary receiving position. The coach throws the "pitch" and the player completes a full speed throw into the tarp. The stopwatch is started when the ball hits his glove and stopped when the ball hits the tarp. The player must sit on the strike and not move until the ball hits his glove as if it were a 0-2 count late in the game. Because the catcher is releasing the ball about five (5) feet in front of the tarp, arm strength has little to do with the time recorded on the stopwatch. The drill gives an accurate measurement of how fast the athlete gets it in the air. You can also have the catcher throw directly into the fence backstop, but I find the tarp makes a more precise sound when hit, making it easier to ensure a good clocking.

    Average release times for high school players would be under .85 down to .78, good would be .78 down to .70, and excellent would be .69 down to .65. Below .65 is very fast for high school players.

    For the college players in my database the average release times would be under .78 down to .70, good would be .70 down to .65, and excellent would be .65 down to .59. Below .59 is really moving. Fastest release I have ever timed at any age was a 14 year old that throws in the .49 to .52 range. He was just amazing. (Note: This player has just turned 16, gotten 6 inches taller and 25lbs heavier and now clocks in at .55-.62 and has throw down times to 2nd in the low 1.8’s.)

    While some critics of the evaluation process mention that it does not incorporate all the variables of a game situation, it does give a good base for comparison between any groups of players. Using these measurement techniques allows me to break the throw down into its three (3) different phases and better be able to attack the area of greatest weakness in any given player.

    I have a number of college players that have guns for arms, velocities out of crouch 85 mph+, but have slower releases then a number of high school players.

    The above evaluation technique has enabled me to isolate what section of the catcher's throw is the weakest and look for the flaws that are eating time. Likewise, I have some players that have lightning fast releases, but 65 mph velocity. Again, it helps me direct their training efforts in the area of greatest weakness.
    Coach Weaver
    Facebook: New England Catching Camp
    Phil 4:13

  • #2
    Excellent post.


    • #3

      My son is 10 and plays traveling baseball. He loves playing catcher.Whats a good throwing drill at this age and ways to increase his throwing speed?


      • #4
        Thanks coach, will add to my catching file!
        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.


        • #5
          Catching drills

          Originally posted by ROGUE
          My son is 10 and plays traveling baseball. He loves playing catcher.Whats a good throwing drill at this age and ways to increase his throwing speed?
          It's not about speed - at least not completely. It's about total time to get the ball to the bag. TO THE BAG. Not to the player at 2nd and certainly not to the CF. We time pop-to-pop and that's from the time the ball hits his glove until it hits the next glove.

          My kid threw about 81 mph in high school and his competition for catcher threw about 85. My kid's pop-to-pop was always under 2.0 seconds and his best was 1.83 seconds. His competitor was 2.1 seconds. Guess who got the job? (He practiced body speed and accuracy by the hour.)

          Fast hands, fast feet and deadly accurate. That's what you're looking for. The 30 second drill is one of the best for speed. Accuracy is about practice. Start close and move back. Pick any target. I like using a brick wall and a lacrosse ball because it comes back at him quickly and improves overall speed and reaction. It he starts missing at distance, bring him in until he hits.

          Ideally the target is low because that's where he's throwing.

          Fast feet is about moving quickly in pivot motions.

          Break the skill down into it's components and practice each separately.
          - 30 second drill for quick release of the ball
          - throwing at a target for accuracy
          - practice the feet motion over and over and over and over.

          Good luck!
          Baseball Drills


          • #6
            I'm bumping this thread that was started by Catchingcoach 14 years ago because he provided some really good info.


            • #7
              Thanks for the bump, Skip, looks like some great info in the OP. I'm taking special interest in this because my son's team has decided they want to try him at catcher, a position he has never played. He's practiced it on-and-off a little over the years, but never played the position. He'll be 14 soon, so I don't know how it will go. He has traditionally been a pitcher, and he does throw fast and accurately, but he just doesn't know the footwork very well. He's also not quick moving out of a crouched position, which is the main reason he's never caught before. He's getting quicker as he moves further into puberty, but I don't know. We shall see, I suppose.


              • #8
                Getting catcher's good "in game" work when they're playing 12U and below is tough because kids get huge jumps and a lot of pitchers haven't learned how to switch up their delivery to keep runners guessing. Regardless, this is great advice!


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