Throwing seems to be a lost art

I was watching some collegiate softball on TV over the weekend, and was struck by the throwing mechanics I saw at key points during the game. Maybe I just wasn’t seeing it right, but it seemed like there were some terrible mechanics going on. I probably should’ve gone back and run it a couple of times to be sure of what I was seeing since I was watching it on DVR. But from what I think I saw it didn’t seem like anyone was setting their feet, turning sideways, or using a circular motion. Instead, it looked like the players were picking up the ball straight on to their targets and throwing that way.

Perhaps at that level they don’t need the proper mechanics. Maybe the players are big enough, strong enough, or just plain talented enough that they can get away with what essentially amounts to arm throws. But it sure seems like taking that extra little bit of time to get in a stronger position would help get the ball there faster — and more on-target.

I’ll be watching some other games so I’ll give it a closer look in the future. But if what I think I saw is actually the case I certainly will find it interesting. Anyone else notice this?

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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 April 7, 2009, in Throwing. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Ken,As a travel ball coach for a 12U team, this is a skill that we spend a great deal of time improving. For some reason, unknown to me, this is something that is not taught to the girls. I attend many clinics to improve my skills and always ask the speakers what the one thing is that they would like us to teach to help the girls the most as they get to that level. And almost unanimously, it has been throwing mechanics. So, to answer your question, yes I notice it as well.

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  2. Ok, Lee, so it’s not just me. I hear the same things that you do. When I attended the NFCC classes they spent a lot of time on throwing mechanics, the importance of shifting your feet, etc. But then in the college games I watch it appears that all goes out the window. Maybe that’s why they’re telling travel coaches this — they can’t get the girls at that age to change either, so they want them to come in with the skills. One thing I have noticed is throwing doesn’t seem to come as naturally as you would think, especially for girls. It really is a skill that has to be taught. Just getting the ball there isn’t enough. I think coaches should understand what constitutes good throwing mechanics, and then insist their players use them.

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  3. Hi Ken, I had the opportunity to watch about 5 minutes worth of infield drills from a big ten school at an NSC clinic this past December. During the drill, I saw well above 100 throws and am pretty sure I only saw one throw that was overhand with good technique. Some were short throws but many were base to base or corner to corner – and only one – just one – was overhand. Most were side-armed or a 3/4 throw – no turn, no setting of the feet… I was stunned and mentioned it to the other coach I was with and he watched for it too – 1 throw. I was honestly depressed. As you know me well, I am a huge proponent of the proper overhand throw and was concerned that I spent so much time teaching my daughter and her teammates how to throw properly…overhand. If they didn’t want infielders throwing overhand, then was all that work for naught? I saw the coach at the social, explained what I saw and asked if they teach/preach the side-arm or 3/4 throw. She said in cases of short throws they do use either one to get rid of it quicker, BUT, she said it is a team-wide issue that needs to be corrected. She went to the point of stating it is a lazy technique issue and thanked me for reminding her they need to address it – they do not preach it for regular throws. She might have been appeasing me, but she appeared sincere. Anyway, it was very evident in the videos of this team that they were using very poor technique and some of the errant throws supported it. Now I should watch some of their games this year to see if they worked on it.

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  4. Rick Cartwright

    Ken, I don’t think you are imagining it. I watched part of an NIU game and saw one of the players throw two ground spikes and otherwise use poor mechanics also. Saw a mix of good and bad on telvision but should have paid more attention to see if this was something showing up at particular schools. I will this week.

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  5. It’s such a fundamental part of the game, you’d think it would be ingrained in players by the time they get to college. I’ve always told kids I’ve worked with that poor throwing mechanics makes it easy for coaches to cut you. They look at how you throw and decide whether you’d be too much work. I still believe that, but there probably still isn’t enough stress on it. I should probably save this for a whole new post, but I wonder if the desire to win often gets in the way of imnproving mechanics. Do coaches figure if their SS can get the ball to first in time most of the time they don’t care how it’s done? I would think that better mechanics would yield better results. Mike, like you I stress good throwing a lot. If your players throw well you minimize errors. The stats I’ve heard are 80% of all errors are throwing errors. Who wouldn’t like to eliminate 80% of their team’s errors? In the games I watched this past weekend, the poor or panic throws were late getting to their targets. Runs scored, runners advanced, because the release was quick but the throw wasn’t powerful or on target — or both. Seems like demanding better techniques, and more importantly making sure they’re ingrained into players rather than something they have to remember to do, would be of value. But what do I know?

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