Catcher Footwork-Throw to Second Base
One thing that you can’t teach in sports is speed. An athlete with speed has huge advantages in any sport, and baseball is no different. One of the biggest keys to winning a baseball game is the ability to take extra bases, and stealing second base is the most common and effective way for fast base runners to try to take those extra bases. As a catcher, we need to learn the proper technique to keep those speedsters off the bases and put them back on the bench.
Foot positioning is key when getting ready to throw out a runner. When you have a potential base stealer on first base, we can make a slight adjustment in our feet to get a head start on our throw. Slightly off set your right foot back to get a slight turn in your hips towards right center field. The right toe of the right foot should go back to a maximum depth of even with the left heel. If the right foot gets any deeper then we have significantly lowered our ability to block a ball in the dirt to the glove hand side.
The throwing hand should be behind the glove ready for a quick transfer of the ball for the throw. Remember to wrap the thumb of the throwing hand under your fingers and to keep your grip loose. This will help prevent broken or fractured fingers in the case of a foul tip. We should be in the secondary position, which is a wide base with the butt up off the heels to be more athletic.
When the runner goes, we need to be patient. Let the pitch GET TO YOU! I see too many kids reach out to try and get the pitch instead of letting it travel to their body. The speed of the pitch is faster than the time it will take to rip the ball all the way back.
Once we have received the pitch, now we have to set our feet and throw. There are a few different techniques that can be used here. First is the rock step, in when you rock back to your back foot and push forward. With this technique, the back foot will stay still while the left foot and left hip square up with second base. Once the front foot is down, the catcher pushes of his back side and makes the throw. This technique requires a lot of both arm strength and lower half strength.
The next technique is the jump pivot. This sounds deceiving, the catcher will not actually jump into the air but rather elevate of the ground just high enough to rotate the feet. Once the ball gets to the catcher, he will do a quick turn of the hips while both feet are in the air. When landing, the back foot will land fractions of a second before the front foot, this will allow the catcher to drive off his back side on the throw. This is for catchers who focus more on a quick release than a high velocity throw.
The last technique and my favorite is what I call the drive technique. Not only does this give you the most momentum on the throw to second, I also think it can be just as quick as the pivot technique. For this technique once the catcher has received the baseball the back foot will step forward a couple inches out in front of them. From here the left hip squares with second base and the catcher completes the throw. Once you become more comfortable with this technique, you will be able to begin the step with the right foot forward and swing the left hip almost simultaneously. This will allow the catcher to significantly cut down on their release time.
Whatever technique works for you the most important thing is to be quick and to get directional drive off your back side. The goal is to be able to throw downhill, much like a pitcher. We need to be able to get the maximum momentum while using minimal time. Don’t fall off towards the first of third base foul lines; keep your momentum towards second base as you follow the throw. Implement any of these steps and continue to perfect your technique. With that, you will be throwing out runners on a consistent basis in no time.
Extra note: I did not include the technique of throwing from the knees. Once you have the arm strength and ability of a Yadier Molina, then you can look into this technique.
- Ashley Hewitt