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Throwing After Fielding a Ground Ball

March 14, 2012 0

 

There are two methods of throwing from the outfield after catching a fly ball.

The crow-hop method

If properly done, the crow-hop method of throwing will enable the outfielder to generate momentum into his throw without taking any extra steps prior to releasing the ball. We will describe the crow-hop method for a right handed outfielder. The corresponding footwork would of course be the same for the left handed outfielder.

If the outfielder is under control as he moves into the fly ball, he would catch the ball as his pivot foot lands (right foot). His body should be squared up with the ball as he makes the catch slightly on the throwing side of his body. The right foot should land on the ground slightly out in front of his right shoulder with the toes of the right foot pointing outward at about a 30 degree angle from the direction of the throw. The right knee should bend slightly as the right foot lands on the ground and the ball enters the glove. As the outfielder begins the crow-hop step off his right foot, the stride leg (left leg) should pull him straight ahead and slightly off the ground. As the outfielder crow-hops off his right foot toward the target, the left side of his body should close in order to allow the outfielder to “gather” himself for the throw. This should bring the body to a good balanced throwing position, allowing the weight to get behind the throw itself. When the right foot lands on the crow-hop it is now the pivot foot for the actual throw. Thus, the right foot must be facing at about a 90 degree angle from the intended target when the crow-hop step is completed. The distance and height of the crow-hop step is an individual matter for the outfielder, taking into consideration the amount of momentum he has generated into the throw. The average height off the ground would be about three inches, and the average distance of the crow-hop to the target is about two to three feet. As the pivot foot lands on the crow-hop, the right knee should now be bent far enough that the outfielder can get a maximum push oft his right leg. In the meantime, the stride leg swings around to stride directly toward the target so that his hips and shoulders end up facing the target. The stride leg must be bent at the knee as the throwing arm moves forward. The stride leg should act as a brake against the explosive drive off the right pivot leg. If the outfielder over strides with his left foot, he will have poor balance, along with the tendency to rush with his body causing the throw to be high with little velocity. Poor balance and rushing will also cause the outfielder to drop his arm slot in order for the arm to catch up with his body. This is very similar to the problem a pitcher has when he rushes with his body in delivering the ball to the plate. In order to maximize throwing power, the outfielder should not open up his front side until the arm starts forward. The hips and shoulders should be close to parallel to the ground throughout the throw. The front hip and shoulder may be slightly above the back hip and shoulder as the pivot leg bends under the body weight. On balls caught to either side, where the outfielder can not get in position to throw properly, he must quickly get himself under control. Once under control, he should then crow-hop off his right foot in the direction of his throw. The same would hold true for balls caught over the outfielder’s head. An outfielder can never afford to make a long throw flat footed no matter how off-balance he might be as he catches the ball. The extra step he would take in the crow-hop will provide the power and accuracy in the throw that he would not achieve if he threw the ball without benefit of the crow-hop step.

Click for a video demonstration.

The jump step method

Many outfielders use the jump step method of footwork in getting off throws that require a long distance. It is not advisable for an outfielder to throw with the crow-hop method along with the jump step method. He must make a decision as to which method he will use so that he can better refine his skills in that method. Otherwise, the outfielder might combine both methods in getting off the throw which can easily lead to extra steps and poor body balance. We will describe the jump step method for a right handed outfielder.

If the outfielder is using the jump step method of footwork in throwing the ball after making the catch of the fly ball, he should attempt to catch the ball as his left foot (stride foot) hits the ground. If he fields the ball as his right foot (pivot foot) hits the ground, it will necessitate his taking an extra step in order to properly execute the jump step. Even though the outfielder will be catching the ball with his left foot forward, he still must catch the ball with two hands slightly on the throwing side of his body. His body should be squared up with the target of his throw, and his body momentum at the time of the catch should be moving toward the target. The left foot should land on the ground slightly out in front of his left shoulder with the toes pointing in the direction of the throw. The left knee should bend slightly as the left foot lands on the ground and the ball enters the glove. The outfielder would then jump towards the target off his stride foot (left foot) to continue forward momentum. The jump off the left foot should only be a few inches high, or just enough to get his body turned sideways to the target and getting his pivot foot (right foot) directly under his body. This will transfer all of the outfielder’s weight directly over his right foot. The higher the ball is fielded, the lower the jump should be. If the outfielder happens to field the ball low, he will have to jump a little higher. As the outfielder jumps, the left side of his body should close in order for him to be able to open the left side as the throwing arm comes forward. If he does not close his left side on the jump, he will be throwing with just his arm without the benefit of the additional power which can be generated with the proper use of his body. When the right foot lands on the jump step, it now becomes the pivot foot. The pivot foot should land with the toes at about a 75 degree angle from a direct line with the target. This will further assist in getting the front side of the body closed to initiate proper body momentum toward the target as the throwing arm comes forward. The right knee should be bent far enough that the outfielder can get a maximum push off his right leg. In the meantime, the stride leg swings around to stride directly toward the target so that his hips and shoulders end up facing the target. The stride leg must be bent at the knee as the throwing arm comes forward. As was previously mentioned with the crow-hop method of throwing, the outfielder can not afford to over-stride with his left foot. The basic mechanics of the throw in regard to the use of the hips and shoulders are identical with that mentioned in the crow-hop method. The outfielder can use the jump step method after fielding a fly ball or line drive that he catches going laterally or over his head. Once under control, he would just lead with his left foot, execute the jump step, and step toward his target with the stride foot (left foot).

Click for a video demonstration.

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