Monday, February 28, 2011

Build Arm Strength By Throwing Through Your Partner

By Perry Cunningham

During my collegiate and professional pitching career, I was always looking for the miracle formula that would allow me to increase my velocity and help me continue to progress.

As a coach, I seem to always be asked by players, "How do I throw harder?"

Sorry to ruin everyone's hopes and dreams, but there is no magic bullet. There is no easy way around things. There are two ways to build arm strength - develop good mechanics understanding how to use your body to your advantage and throw through your partner.

Almost every coach at one point or another has made the comment to "hit your partner in the chest." But my advice is a little different - throw the baseball through your partner's chest.

Let's say your partner is 75 feet away and you are trying to hit him in the chest. If he would miss the ball completely, how far would the ball travel in the air? I would guess somewhere in the area of 80 feet.

You are again 75 feet away and are now trying to throw the ball through your partner's chest. Again, if he would miss it, the baseball may travel approximately 100 feet or more.

Think of it this way. Your partner is standing away from you with both hands above his head. If you hit him in the chest, the ball will probably glance off his chest. But you are trying to throw it so hard that he falls down and is gasping for air after being hit by your toss.

Why is this a better way? There are three main reasons.

Because you are trying to throw farther, you throw the ball harder. Throwing harder while playing catch develops the arm strength you need in the game.

You are keeping a consistent release point. Your release point is where the baseball leaves your hand. I would bet that when you try to throw the ball to your partner, you throw it twenty feet off the ground. You judge how far you need to throw the baseball and the flight of the baseball isn't in a straight line. But in a game, you try to keep every throw - from the outfield, on the infield, on the mound or behind the plate - on a straight line because that is the shortest distance to throw. A consistent release point will help your accuracy on the field.

For any player that lives in a colder climate, you don't have the ability to throw outdoors during a portion of the year and may not have the luxury of having a large indoor facility to train. So if your only option is an indoor basketball or tennis court, you may only have 100 feet to throw. But it takes more that100 feet to develop arm strength. So, if you throw through your partner and not to your partner, you can still get your necessary practice.

It is a simple suggestion, but one that isn't often taught and is easy to incorporate at practice or in the backyard. It will lead to more arm strength and better accuracy, which lead to a more confident player. With confidence come success.

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