Throwing the baseball properly can mean the difference between an out or a hit on an infield grounder or it can mean the difference between an out and a runner advancing after a fly ball. No matter which position you play, over the course of a baseball season, you’ll likely have to make at least a few key throws. Using the correct technique lets you make the most powerful or accurate throw you can -- or both -- depending on the situation.
Gripping the Ball
When you have to make a quick throw, you won’t always have time to put your fingers exactly where you want them on the ball. Whenever possible, however, it pays to hold the ball correctly. Grip the ball with your index and middle fingers on top and your thumb on the bottom. The ball should rest against the side of your ring finger and should not touch your palm. Position your middle and index fingers so the ball’s seams run roughly perpendicular to those fingers. If your fingers are parallel with the seams, you have a greater chance of curving the ball, forcing your throw off target.
Basic Throwing Technique
Most baseball throws use a similar technique. After you field the ball, you turn your non-throwing side toward the target, flex your knees a bit and draw your arm back, with your elbow about shoulder high and your palm facing away from you. Step toward the target with your lead foot and push off the ground with your back foot. As you move your legs, simultaneously rotate your upper body so your chest faces the target, keeping your elbow high and bringing your arm forward as you do so. Follow through toward your target after you release the ball.
Outfield throws usually need to be much longer than throws made by infielders, so outfielders must often generate additional momentum. When you’re preparing to catch a fly ball with runners on base and less than two outs, try to stand 2 to 3 feet behind the point where the ball will drop. An imaginary line drawn from you to the catching point should travel straight to your eventual target -- either a base or a relay man. Move forward, catch the ball, make a quick hop on your throwing foot as you turn your non-throwing side to the target and then throw the ball immediately, using your forward motion to add momentum. When a ball is hit on the ground in front of you, charge the ball aggressively, scoop it up with your glove at the side of your foot and then execute the throw.
Double Play Throws
Second basemen and shortstops trying to start a double play must toss the ball quickly to their teammates. But they can’t throw too hard and expect the ball to be caught. If you’re throwing from close range after moving toward second base to field the ball, hold the ball in front of you about waist high, swing the ball down and back and then toss it underhand. Try to throw the ball about chest high and aim your throw at second base, even if your teammate hasn’t arrived yet. If you’re too far away to toss the ball underhand, make a fairly standard overhand throw, but turn your chest to your target immediately and don’t step into the throw -- accuracy is more important than throwing hard.