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Baseball – 4 tips for planning your throw in

Elvis Elvis

When looking to throw in toward the infield after catching a pop fly or fielding a ground ball, the outfielder should be thinking ahead. That does not only mean that you should have been thinking about where you should throw the ball if you had a chance to field it. Rather, you should also be literally “thinking ahead”.

Depending on the situation, this means that you’ll need to throw one, two, or three bases in front of the lead runner.

Where to be directing your throws.

When playing the outfield, with a few exceptions, any time you are able to keep the baseball in front of you, you should be thinking about throwing two bases in front of the lead runner.

For example, if you happen to cleanly field a line drive on a bounce with no runners on base, you should be looking to throw in toward second base … two bases in front of home plate – where the hitter is starting from.

If that same hitter were to have hit a ball that bounced in front of you that you were able to field cleanly, except that this time there was already a runner on second base, you would be looking to throw toward home. In this case, home plate is the second base in front of the lead runner.

If the lead runner had been starting from first base, you would have wanted to direct your throw in toward third base.

Baseball   4 tips for planning your throw in

Exceptions to throwing two bases in front.

There are times when throwing two bases in front of the lead runner is not the best thing to do. For example, let’s say your team has a two or more run lead late in the game. Your opposition has a fast runner at second base and it is unlikely you’ll be able to throw the runner out at home on any ball that bounces either in front of or on the side of you.

Instead of attempting to throw the runner out at home, your team’s best interest may be to throw the baseball in toward second base – giving the opposition the run. In doing so, you prevent the hitter from moving two bases on any throw home, keeping him out of scoring position while you still maintain the lead.

Another example is of course the sacrifice fly. In this case your throw in toward the infield should be the base where the base runner is attempting to advance.

Lastly, any ball that gets by you, either over your head or past you on the ground (and in some cases, any ball that you happen to bobble), should have you thinking about throwing three bases in front of the runner. If a ball gets past you the runner is free to run and, unless he is slow, that third base is what he initially is looking for.

If there is no one on base and the baseball gets by you, third base is where you should direct your throw. If there was a runner on first, you should be looking toward home plate.

Throw in toward the cutoff man.

On any play with men on base, be sure to return the ball back to the infield as quickly as possible. Don’t get lazy and take anything for granted.

Your throw in should always be strong and directed through the cutoff man, who should be aligned with the base that is two in front of the lead base runner (unless one of the noted exceptions above is in effect).

It is then up to your teammate who is responsible for directing the cutoff man to determine how your throw should be handled. He’ll either direct the cutoff man to let the ball continue toward the intended base, instruct the cutoff to catch the ball and then throw toward the intended target (because your throw has slowed down too much, or is too far off line, to catch the runner), or direct the cutoff man to catch and redirect the throw to another base.

Finding the cutoff man.

Seeing that you’ll often be on the move while attempting to keep your eyes on the baseball, you may find it difficult to pick-up where the cutoff man is standing immediately after fielding the baseball. Not only does finding the cutoff man depend on your ability to hold your eyes level while being on the run, it also often depends on what is happening in the background.

In an attempt to help you, you should find the cutoff man holding his arms high in the air to catch your attention as he moves out toward you. If he isn’t helping you in this manner, let him know that it would be helpful if he did employ this technique, as finding your cutoff man in a quick manner will help you follow through on a quick and fluid throw back to the infield.

Another technique to finding the cutoff is to look toward the base you should be throwing. Your cutoff man should have been able to align himself between you and that particular base and you by the time you come up throwing.