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Stealing Third? Not on my Watch

Stealing_ThirdKevin Wheeler is a former college player, All-Star Performance Instructor, and sports radio personality. Additional educational resources for players, coaches and parents are available at gamersacademy.net.

Throwing to Third Base

Stealing third is uncommon for good reason. With the shorter throwing distance from home plate, the risk is much higher for a base runner; however, this presumes that the catcher has perfect technique. Without this, he could very well give that base up. Here’s how to make sure that never happens.

The upper body technique remains the same as when throwing to second base, with the catcher getting on top of the ball, throwing on a downward plane. The key technical difference lies in the footwork: on most throws to third base, the catcher should step behind the batter in order to make room for his throw. It is important, however, for the catcher to see what the batter is doing as he is coming out of the crouch.

If the batter bails out of the box or falls over home plate, then the catcher should attack in a straight line to third base. If contact is unavoidable, it is best that young catchers DO NOT attempt to throw over top of the batter’s head. Wild throws to third base lead to runs. We prefer to train our catchers to hold on to the ball, and create contact with the batter in the hopes that it will initiate an interference call.

When the batter holds his position in the box, your catcher will want to move behind the batter. That being said, when it comes time to execute the throw, it is extremely important to direct all momentum toward third base and not toward the backstop—this means that his feet must move in a direct path toward third, and his shoulders must close sharply and drive toward third as well.

In some cases, particularly when the catcher is lined up on the first base side of home plate, a "jab step" technique can be utilized to clear a throwing path. When the catcher is caught leaning to his glove side because of the location of the pitch, a short jab step toward first with the right foot, followed by a quick stride toward third with the left foot will clear that throwing path.

Lastly, when left handed batters are at the plate, your catcher should simply move his feet and shoulders directly toward third down the chalk line.