Learning the proper throwing technique is of paramount importance for youngsters who are just learning to play baseball. Not only does proper technique help players throw harder and with more accuracy, but it can also help prevent injuries.
“Even in college we stress the importance of throwing,” said Vincent Losurdo, who played college ball for the University of Rhode Island and is now a Double A Minor coach in the Barrington Little League in Rhode Island.
When working with players who struggle with throwing, Losurdo focuses on developing proper fundamentals and confidence.
“The biggest thing at this age is (keeping) the elbow above the shoulder and the hand away from the ear,” he said.
Losurdo has developed a four-step approach that he uses to help baseball players in his 8-9 age group learn the proper way to throw while also developing arm strength:
Step 1 – Kneeling and Flicking
In the first step, the player kneels down and flicks the ball to another person. This helps the player strengthen the wrist.
To begin, the player faces his partner. The non-throwing elbow is placed on the step leg. If the player is right-handed, the glove is to the right side of the body. Then the player rests his right elbow on the glove and flicks the ball to the other person.
“You must stress the wrist action after you’ve stressed the bunny ears,” Losurdo said, referring to the two-finger grip on the ball. “That’s to make sure they’ve warmed up and have good wrist action when they throw the ball.”
Step 2 – Kneeling and Throwing
Once the player has that down, he can move to throwing the ball to the partner from the kneeling position. This second step focuses on keeping the arm above the shoulder with the fingers pointing back toward the thrower.
“I do this because I’m looking for arm positioning and nothing with the lower body,” Losurdo said. “I look for wrist, arm and then hips. When the arm’s away from the body, one mistake kids make is the arm isn’t above the shoulder and the hand is too close to their ear and they short-arm it.
“To correct that at a young age, we have the bunny ears away from their body so when they throw it, they’re unable to keep their hand close to their ear, which prevents short-arming. By not keeping the ball close to their ear, kids learn to get good extension on their arm.”
Step 3 – The Power Position
Next up, the players stand and throw the ball from what Losurdo calls the power position.
“Start in the stretch with the feet shoulder-width apart,” he said. “Keep the feet planted and emphasize the hip turn.
“Hip, turn and throw without moving your legs.”
Step 4 – The Follow Through
The follow through constitutes the fourth step.
“They step and follow through so their back leg comes around,” Losurdo said. “Push off from the power position, hip turn and follow through with the right leg. Step with your throwing leg. You’re teaching them to step and throw.
“It’s important to build these practices at a young age. We take 10 to 15 throws each. It properly warms up an arm. From there, for arm strength, you progress to long throws.”