Throwing a baseball appears to be very simple in its nature. Just throw, right? Wrong. Throwing a baseball the right way takes proper mechanics and techniques. Just ask Bud Black. Black, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who recorded 121 wins over his 15-year career, knows a thing or two about the art of throwing a baseball. These days, Black puts his vast knowledge of the game to use as the Manager of the San Diego Padres. During the off-season, we caught up with Black for a few tips on the subject. Below, Black cites the three critical aspects of throwing a baseball.
When you catch a baseball, the first thing to do is remove the ball from the glove, which is called separating the ball from the glove. "Start with your hands on top of the ball or your fingers on top with your thumb underneath, same with your glove arm, thumbs down," Black says. "So you catch the ball, you separate your hands with thumbs down, fingers on top of the ball and start to make a circle."
According to Black, the second point of focus is ensuring that one's elbow is above the shoulder when a throw is made. "A lot of kids who have arm trouble as they move on through baseball do so as a result of not having enough strength during childhood to get their elbow above the shoulder or it's simply easier to not do so," Black says. "Throwing the baseball from a low position is simply easier. It takes more work and effort to get the elbow up."
In this instance, the involvement of a parent or coach to encourage proper mechanics can help lead to future success. "I can watch a kid 5, 6, 7, 8 years old and if they have proper separation mechanics and can get the elbow up, I say, hey they got a chance," Black says. "If they are athletic, they have a chance to be successful at whatever level they're competing."
The third critical aspect of throwing a baseball is proper stride direction. "These days, you see some young shortstops stepping towards the pitching mound and making a throw to first base across the body," Black says. "There needs to be a stride toward where you're throwing the ball. Stride to the person you're playing catch with or stride toward the direction where you want the ball to be thrown."
Black believes stride direction is an aspect that is easier to fix when kids become older, unlike the first two components. "It is critical to key in on the first two components early in a baseball player's career," he says. "Essentially, all three components are critical in my eyes. That is it, you can talk or instruct for hours on those three things. If you get a kid early enough you're fine. If you have a little bit of athleticism and aptitude, then you got action."
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