Turning the ball backwards

Sorry about the lack of recent posts. I’ve been traveling a lot for business the last few weeks, which sounds like fun but really isn’t. Fortunately, both time in the last two weeks that I was stuck on the tarmac for a couple of hours there was no one in the seat beside me so I could relax and invade that space without feeling bad about it.

Traveling has also cost me a fair amount of lesson time. I haven’t seen most of my Tuesday students since November, which I feel very bad about. But as long as my day job pays most of the bills there’s not a lot I can do about it. Sort of the real world version of a bad umpire.

Mixed into all of that was a couple of days at the National Sports Clinics watching presentations by several high-level coaches. One of them was Deb Hartwig, a former top catcher and D1 coach who now has her own instructional business. Nobody makes her take non-softball business trips, that’s for sure!

In any case, she brought up something very interesting about throwing. The conventional way of teaching throwing is to have the player bring the ball back behind the body, turn it to face backwards (ball to the wall), and then bring it forward. I know I’ve taught that for years. But she said if you watch video you’ll see nobody really throws that way. According to Coach Hartwig, what really happens is the ball faces down when the arm goes back, then comes up and forward as the throw occurs.

It certainly makes sense. If you think about making a quick throw, you’re going to want the wrist to stay loose. As the arm comes back a loose wrist will tend to make the ball face down. You’d have to use some tension to actually pull it up to face the “wall.” The ball facing down would actually seem more efficient.

Of course, I hate to take anything on face value, so I’m going to work on finding some video of baseball and softball players throwing, slow it down, and see what they actually do. Although I’ve taught “ball to the wall” for years, if there’s a better way I’m all for it! Especially if it helps create a few more outs.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on December 20, 2007, in Coaching, Throwing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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