Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Playing Catch With a Purpose

I read a good post at The Pitching Academy about the benefits of throwing often when done with a purpose. Baseball is fun, and it's fun to just go out a throw the ball around. But when teams are warming up for practice, players - especially pitchers - can gain a lot from working on their mechanics.

Far too often I see a kids that have been taught to pitch or throw correctly, some by me, go out and warm up for practice with poor mechanics - not closing up, glove flying out, no follow through. They get nothing out of those ten minutes other than getting their arm loose. But if they would focus on what they're doing during that time like they would the rest of practice, they could improve their arm strength, their mechanics, their control, their various fastballs and their changeup or other offspeed pitches.

Mechanics can be learned at an early age. Once players get in the habit of throwing correctly, they'll never lose that skill. It's like riding a bike. But until the good habits fully take over, players will continue to fight against the bad habits on the mound and in the field. If they don't close the shoulder, or tuck the glove, etc., during those 30 throws before practice, how can we expect them to do it in a game?

And that changeup grip takes months, if not years, to get comfortable with. Pitchers who practice it during long toss or while cooling down can speed up that time significantly. Play "catch" with a purpose and some focus and the progress will show.

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