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Youth Baseball Fundamentals - Catching and Throwing

Fans love offense and seeing a lot of runs scored, but teams win with good defense. Defense starts with good pitching, and a team will have a hard time being successful without a good pitching staff and a catcher who can handle them. But defense also involves the entire team. Playing good defense means players must execute the basic skills consistently.

Everything in defense revolves around being able to catch and throw the ball. It serves no purpose in trying to master a complicated play before learning to catch and throw properly; a team can't expect to execute a double-play when one guy can't throw the ball and the other one can't catch it. Players should spend most of their time on catching and throwing because without those skills defensive play will always be inconsistent.

The key to improving the basic skills of catching and throwing the ball can be accomplished by using proper mechanics when warming up in practice. Players should focus on executing the following five things:

  1. Begin the catching-moving-throwing movement as the ball approaches to develop a proper and consistent rhythm, moving the feet to get to the ball rather than standing still and reaching.
  2. When the ball is in the glove, players should begin to "give" with the hands toward the throwing position and shift the feet simultaneously and in rhythm into position and shift the feet simultaneously and in rhythm into the throwing position. He should learn to roll the ball for a cross-seam grip.
  3. Players shouldn't practice pitches in warm-up. No curve balls, knuckleballs, etc.. Players should practice the throwing skills that they will need in game action.
  4. Develop consistent control, players should throw at a target on every throw. Control isn't just for pitchers. Catchers who can't throw accurately to second, or shortstops who throw into the dugout as often as they do to first base, lack control.
  5. Overload the arm in warm-up to develop arm strength, doing a little more each day. Players can overload their arms by increasing the length of time they throw or the distance they throw. Players should start the warm-up at a short distance and gradually lengthen the throws to that of the longest throw they must make during a game.

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