The simple skill of playing catch is sometimes overlooked. It is a tedious and boring skill when trying to master, but it is the skill that makes up the game of softball.
All too often I watch team practices; the team gets there the girls laugh and joke, some type of physical warm up takes place such as a jogging or stretching, and then the gloves get put on and the “simple” skill of playing catch beings. During this tedious warm up it never fails that legs are straight, girls are catching with 1 hand, feet are not moving, balls are being thrown over heads, and girls are chasing balls.
I cannot stress enough the importance, not only, of a proper FOCUSED warm up for our arms for injury prevention, but learning to master the skill of playing catch AT ALL AGES! I will always hear my 12U coach yelling to us…”How do you when ball games?” and our response in unison would be, “playing catch right.”
The Importance of Playing Catch
At the beginning of every defensive practice, come up with a regular routine, one that the girls know and understand. Consistency is HUGE! My suggestions for this are underlined below.
Warming Up Arms – Check out our Video on the website labeled arm warm up for explanation and proper technique.
-Flips on a knee – Working on rotation/spin
-Throwing on a knee – Working to snap down on the ball as well as finishing the arm
-Standing with body open – Working on proper line
-Playing Catch – Working on proper transfer, 2 hands, accuracy, footwork
-Long toss – Strengthen arms
-Quick Toss – Fast transfer and footwork
After the arms are properly warmed up, I would make sure that EVERY defensive practice to run some sort of throwing drill that is similar to what may happen in a game. Keep in mind getting the girls moving and setting challenges or goals for them during these drills will increase the competition, drive to succeed, and may create nerves, which is exactly what they will face in a game. Practicing the way you play is vital.
Team Throwing Drills
-Things to look for: Accuracy, 2 hands, footwork, quick transfer
-Place 3 to 4 girls at home, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Have the ball start at home plate and have the girls throw the ball around the horn. After every throw the girl that threw the ball follows her throw and gets back in line at the next base. This rotates the girls to every bag and keeps everyone moving.
-To challenge the girls call out reverse and have them reverse the throws the opposite way around the horn.
-Split the girls into2 groups. Having the 1st group start place 1 girl at shortstop, second base, 1st base, 3rd base, and home plate.
-Have the ball start at home plate and throw to the short stop, short stop throws to first, first throws to third, third throws to the second baseman, and the second baseman throws home. Repeat 5 rounds and then have the groups switch.
For more drills check out our e-drill page for ideas and proper technique!