Throwing from your knees
Got an excited text tonight from a catcher (Lindsay) who played on the team I coached this summer. She wanted to let me know that she used a technique we worked on this summer and it worked — mostly, anyway.
The technique was a pickoff to third by dropping to her knees. It’s good to do on runners on third who are not paying attention, or who are looking to come home on a passed ball.
Essentially, you set up a little deeper behind the hitter than normal — just a foot or two, enough to clear a little extra room. The pitcher throws the pitch — something the catcher can grab easily, preferably to the inside on a right handed hitter — and the catcher receives it. Instead of throwing it back to the pitcher, or standing up, the catcher drops her left knee and throws as she “falls” to her left. The momentum of the knee dropping helps get a little something extra on the ball.
Here’s why it’s effective. When most catchers want to throw, they stand up, turn toward the base, and make a full throw. Everyone on the field can see it coming, and it gives the runner plenty of time to get back.
But when the catcher drops a knee and throws, the runner never sees it coming. The catcher is somewhat shielded by the hitter, and she doesn’t act the way the runner is expecting. All of a sudden here comes the ball and often it freezes and confuses the runner.
From what Lindsay said, that part of it worked like a charm. In fact, it worked so well it also caught the third baseman by surprise. (They hadn’t had a chance to practice it, so the timing wasn’t quite there.) She had little doubt it would work in the future.
Of course, it’s not for everyone. You need a catcher with a good arm, a quick release and the brains to know when the opportunity is there. But if you have a catcher like Lindsay, it’s a great play.