Baseball Throwing Drills You’re Probably (Definitely) Not Doing
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
You show up to the field an hour, maybe two, early for the game. You stretch, grab your glove, a ball, and start to play catch to warm up your arm.
Gradually, you back up to 90-120 feet, airing it out for a bit, and then you call it good. You're warmed up. But is there more that you could be doing?
Yes. The answer is yes.
Obviously, there are more things you could be doing to not only warm up your arm, but at the same time, increasing accuracy, strength, and solidifying the fundamentals that make for strong, accurate throws on the field. But maybe you don't know any baseball throwing drills.
Well, now you do!
And if you put just a few of these into practice before games, or during your workouts, you'll be ahead of the competition.
1. Cutoff Throw Race
Objective: Quick Hands and Feet/Accuracy
There's nothing like a competition to get athletes focused - so whenever you can turn a throwing drill into a game, you're going to get better results.
This particular drill is great for working on quick hands and feet. Infielders should do this drill religiously, but it can also benefit outfielders as well. It basically goes like this:
- Get about ten players together (the more, the merrier), and divide them into two teams
- Starting on the foul line, have the two teams line their players up parallel to each other out into the outfield (like a long, five person cutoff throw) - have each player about 40 feet apart to start (depending on age and skill level).
- The ball starts at the foul line for both teams. When the coach gives the command, the race starts. Each player throws the ball as quickly as possible to the next person in the chain.
- IMPORTANT: Once the ball reaches the end, the race isn't over. The players then throw the ball back the other way and the foul line serves as the finish line.
- After each race, spread the player's out a little bit more. Make it a best of five.
A few suggestions: These types of games tend to work better when there's a punishment for the loser. Try windsprints, push-ups, or laps for the losing team.
2. Ready, Break, Throw - From One Knee
This throwing drill comes from DNA Sports, which has quite a range of options on their website, throughout multiple sports, for programs aimed at teaching kids the fundamentals and then some. Check 'em out!
Ready, break, throw, is a drill that can also be done from the standing position. The benefit to doing it from one knee is that it reinforces the power of using your upper body to really "finish" the throw.
In addition, it helps reinforce keeping a centered balance through the throw. If you get out of line in this drill, you'll fall to one side or another. This one's really good for kids.
3. Long Toss for Developing Better Velocity
Objective: Arm Strength & Flexibility
Jaeger Sports definitely knows what they're talking about when it comes to improving velocity and overall throwing mechanics. Thats' why I'm all ears when it comes to their long toss program (and you should be too).
Two things that stick out to me in this video/program are the distance at which they're playing catch, and also how much of an arc they are throwing the ball with.
When I would play long toss in the past, I never would do so at this long of a distance (I'm not sure I can throw that far, honestly), nor would I do so in such a loose manner. The idea in this throwing drill, of keeping your arm loose and arcing the ball more and more as you move back makes a lot of sense.
It allows you to really lengthen your throwing motion. And lengthening your motion = more velocity.
If you like this video, check out some of their other programs:
4. The Towel Drill
I like this throwing drill for pitchers quite a bit - and for a few different reasons. It comes from Tom House, former MLB pitcher and founder of The National Pitching Association.
It's a fantastic drill for working on your throwing form without having to actually stress your arm by throwing real pitches.
It helps keep your body in line, and your throwing motion extended (with your release point further out).
By the way, if you're in Southern California, Tom and the NPA have Daily (Yes Daily) open workouts at USC. They're not cheap, but well worth it if you, or your child, are serious about pitching. If I could have gotten pro instruction like that when I was a kid I would have been in heaven.
- One thing that isn't mentioned in the video, but should be noted, is that you should hold the towel in between your index and middle finger like you would grip a baseball (minus the thumb). Don't hold it like you would if you were snapping a towel. Holding it properly helps mimic the finger action and extension that you want at the end of a pitch.
5. The One Knee Tee Drill
Objective: Correct Elbow Position
- Set Up a Tee just below Shoulder Height
- Thrower lines up next to tee square with hip, on one knee
- Have the player make throws without knocking his elbow on the tee
When was the last time you really thought about your throwing mechanics? Do you know where your elbow is in relation to your shoulder during your throwing motion? If it's below your shoulder, you've got a problem.
Sometimes this is really easy to spot in kids, because it makes it seem like they're pushing the ball and not throwing it (because they are).
It's less noticeable in higher level players, but equally devastating. It puts extra strain on the arm and saps the throw of power. If this problem goes uncorrected for a long time, you can end up with a pretty bad arm injury.
I know this because I'm a victim! I've been a middle infielder my whole life, so making short quick throws is what I did. Unfortunately, this trained me in the bad habit of keeping my elbow too low in my motion. The result? Rotator cuff issues, bursitis, and pain when I throw.
Watch the entire video over at Ripken Baseball (a great resource).
6. The 20 Foot Square Drill for Infielders
Objective: Infield Quickness and Accuracy
Speaking of quick, short throws, here's a great exercise for all you middle infielders. It comes from Charlie Greene and baseballnews.com.
Here's how it goes down:
- Gather four players and arrange them in a square - each player is 20 feet apart
- A Coach will instruct the players which way the ball is to be thrown - clockwise, counter-clockwise, diagonal, or even by calling out player's names.
- Depending on which way the ball is moving (and which hand you throw with) you'll be working on short tosses including arm side flips (where the ball is flipped with your thumb pronated [turned down], underhand tosses, and "dart throws").
- Focus on quick hands, and accurate throws.
- Start slowly, but ramp up the speed as you go.
For a few other "Square Drills" and an in depth look at this drill, head over to Charlie's article here.