How to increase arm strength for throwing runners out
Any catcher who wants to move beyond junior varsity teams needs to learn how to quickly pop up from the squat and throw out a runner at second.
Those who want to move on to play ball in college and beyond need to be able to do it from their knees.
This is not an action that comes naturally to most ball players, so the key to getting the job done is to develop significant arm strength.
Since catchers do not get the same number of days off that pitchers get, it is important that catchers can consistently and effective make the throw to second without having to suffer from arm pain the next morning.
It’s all about training, especially training the arm to throw.
Stretch the Arm
Arm strength and flexibility is the key to success. This means that a good training program involves building strength and taking the time to stretch.
In too many youth leagues, stretching is neglected – which is one of the issues with so many young ball player suffering from overuse injuries. Instead of just throwing, ballplayers must learn to stretch using simple exercises like arm circles and stretches with surgical tubing. Long toss throwing can help build strength, too.
Of course it is important to exercise during the season, but off-season preparation makes the in-season work that much more successful.
In the off-season, catchers and all ball players can work on their throwing skills without worrying about the stress of the game. They can work on their mechanics and the development of the the subtleties that make the throws more accurate.
Start with Arm Circles
Baseball training experts highly recommend using arm circles to warm up before any throwing occurs.
This develops the small muscles in the shoulders by creating flexibility and range of motion. Arm circles help develop the rotator cuff muscles. Getting the muscles moving helps bring oxygen and circulation to them, so they can get ready to move onto the next step – the surgical tubing work.
Use Surgical Tubing
When ball players use surgical tubing, they get their arms ready for serious throwing. Surgical tubing exercises allow the ball player to focus on strengthening and stretching the back and the front of the shoulder.
Since surgical tubing does not involve using heavy weights, the shoulder is protected. This simple and inexpensive tool helps build balance in the rotator cuff and it shortens the recovery needed after each ball game.
Warm the Shoulder First
Before doing any form of long toss, it is always recommended to get the shoulder and arm warmed up and loose to prevent injury from throwing hard to a long distance.
It is vital to let the arm stretch out while throwing in a way that feels good and follows the rules of good mechanics. At first, your long toss might be about 60 feet, but after a while of loosening up, the distance can extend even farther to 100 feet or more.
As a ball player in the off-season, it is important to do this on a daily basis, because the arm needs to stretch. It is best for young players to start doing this every day to keep the arm stretched out. Instead, by not throwing daily, the arm gets tight – just like the rest of the body when it is not exercises on a regular basis.
If you do find that you are throwing more than 150 feet, it is time to incorporate the crow hop to add more body strength to the throw.
Pull-Down Technique is Important
As soon as you recognize that your arm is warm through long toss practice, it is time to focus on the pulling down aspect of the throw. This is how speed increases. The pull down is the whip action that quickly gets the ball to the glove. Speed increases through the whip, which can only happen when the arm is fully warmed and stretched.
When you get to the pull-down phase of playing long toss, you should move closer to each other. It is a good idea to become aware of your arm slowing down when you pull down and then stop doing this. Slowing down the arm in the pull-down phase slows the ball.
Eventually, you should be able to throw accurately and successfully from 300 feet. This makes it easy for a catcher to throw out a runner at second on a regular basis.
Don’t Forget the Legs and Core
It is also important for the catcher to develop solid strength in the core and legs, since the throw to second often has to come from a bent-knee position.
Without quick pop-time from the squat, the catcher has no chance to get the runner out in time. Like stretching the arm, catchers should also regularly stretch their hamstrings and glutes so they do not develop cramps during practices and games.