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Teaching A Kid To Throw And Catch From Scratch - help?

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by OilCanShotTupac, Mar 27, 2019.

  1. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member


    My 8 yo daughter has suddenly taken an interest in softball.

    She can hit decently well but cannot throw. Like, at all.

    We signed her up for a league starting next week. They're letting her play in the instructional league for kids with no experience. Still I'd like to get her started on at least a very basic level.

    Any books to recommend? The simpler the better, like the most bare-bones simple possible.

  2. absintheofmalaise

    absintheofmalaise too many flowers Dope SoSH Member

    There are some good books and videos out there to help with teaching kids to throw and catch. Amazon has many books.
    This one might be too advanced, but it's great for coaching teams. The Baseball Drill Book

    This one looks good for younger kids. Youth Baseball Drills

    One drill that might help with throwing is the towel drill that pitchers use. It should help teach her to elongate her arm towards the target and she won't get frustrated by releasing the ball too early and throwing it in the dirt.

    When I coached kids who couldn't catch or were afraid to catch I'd start off by throwing a tennis ball into the pocket from a few feet away and then work up to throwing the baseball into the mitt. I'd then gradually wean them off of throwing it directly to the pocket and start moving the ball around so the kids would have to track the ball into the pocket to catch it.

    With older kids I would sometimes have them stand with their backs directly against a fence so they couldn't retreat and do the above, but just with a baseball.
    #2 absintheofmalaise, Mar 27, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  3. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member

    What is the towel drill? I know nothing.
  4. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

    The same as with other ball sports that involve throwing. Go out and throw. And throw some more. And when you think you've done enough throwing, suggest going out for some more. Talk about life or whatever while you throw, make the throwing a background activity. Make sure she wants to go throw on any given occasion, that you're not twisting her arm to do so. Give lots of positive reinforcement and feedback when you do go throw. But the most irreplaceable thing is the muscle memory from lots of reps (as long as there's good technique developing). You can't shortcut that. Unlike a basketball, she can't go out on her own and just work on shot after shot, she needs a partner-in-crime. All you can do is make that a positive experience every time, while gently steering her towards good technique that gets a little more automatic every time.
  5. pokey_reese

    pokey_reese Member SoSH Member

    Counterpoint: I used to throw a tennis ball at a wall/garage door/whatever for hours. But InstaFace is right that reps are going to matter, and luckily, it's an easy thing to self-evaluate, because you can 'feel' if a throw worked or not. It's easy to tell if you hit a target (chalk outline, tire, bottle on a wall, etc.), and you can always tell how far you threw. Making a game out of it is good, too. I would often just put a cardboard box on a folding chair to approximate a strike zone, and consider an 'at bat' where I either walked or struck a guy out, and then after each outcome the count resets.

    My point being, don't worry about form and such this early on, because it will develop rapidly as a fairly natural motion. Humans have been throwing stuff forever, and the learning curve is fast if you are starting at the bottom. If you start with something goal oriented like 'hit x with a ball from y distance' she will quickly figure out what she has to do with her body in order to make that happen. Maybe you give some very basic advice (like which foot to have forward, step into the throw, and make sure that you release the ball when your hand is roughly pointing at the thing you want to hit) if she has truly never thrown an object before, but I wouldn't worry too much about 'teaching' it yet. Has she ever been in a snowball fight? Thrown rocks in a pond? Thrown a toy at another child? Motion is basically the same.
  6. bankshot1

    bankshot1 Member SoSH Member

    She's 8, play catch with her.

    Use a tennis ball or smaller softer kid-sized "hardball" as a softball is probably too large for a young arm/hand to control. And getting hit with a tennis ball doesn't hurt.

    And play catch from an easy distance for her to gain some confidence so that she'll have some fun playing catch with dad.
    #6 bankshot1, Mar 27, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  7. pappymojo

    pappymojo Member SoSH Member

    found this

  8. pappymojo

    pappymojo Member SoSH Member

    I would say use a tennis ball and her glove. Get on your knees (it sucks) and play catch. emphasize that she should be stepping forward with the leg opposite her throwing hand as she throws. Her goal as a thrower is to throw the ball in your catching area. See how many times you guys can throw it back and forth without either one of you dropping the ball. Start close together (shorter throw) and then move further apart the more comfortable that you get.
  9. VORP Speed

    VORP Speed Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

    I’m a 7/8 year old girls softball coach. I really hope my daughter appreciates that someday! Most of the girls don’t really throw all that well, so you shouldn’t feel like she’s so far behind or anything.

    We do these drills to start practice and they seem to work pretty well. The extending your arm back while on one knee thing seems to click with a lot of them. We call it the surfer drill.

  10. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    If you want to get a little technical, I'd show her the proper grip (harder with a softball with smaller hands at age 8), and things about pointing the front (non throwing) shoulder at the target. There's the get the ball to back ear things, but I think there are better ways to go about teaching arm motion, weight transfer and follow through in terms simple for that age.

    And yes, throw throw throw. I like the tennis ball idea to start. That's also good for teaching how to catch popups. I had an old tennis racket in the equipment bag for a year for this purpose.
  11. steveluck7

    steveluck7 Member SoSH Member

    I agree with this. Once she has any semblance of a throwing motion with her arm, work on the shoulder pointing at the target. I did that with my son when he was 4. He is a pretty accurate thrower now. It was a bit tricky getting a 4 year old to "turn sideways" but he picked it up pretty quickly.
  12. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

    I have an 8 year old. Agree that you just need to get out there and throw with her.

    If the weather isn't cooperating, one thing I have done with my son is that our gym has a heated kiddie pool and we generally take a soft, small ball or football to the pool and throw. I also find that there's usually another kid or two who will throw too, so that's some time to let my elbow and shoulder recover.
  13. cmac24

    cmac24 Member SoSH Member

    Sometimes it's helpful, especially if she knows another kid on the team, for a kid to see other kids throwing and playing catch with each other and joining in. She'll pick it up pretty quickly. I coached instructional softball and most of the kids (5-7) weren't good throwers at first but like everyone else said, the more repetitions the better. Ours was a pretty laid back league with lots of encouragement to keep trying and have fun. The throwing drills we did were to have the kids play catch to warm up and throwing to first and then building up to throwing to other bases.
  14. Old Fart Tree

    Old Fart Tree the maven of meat Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Start with the footwork. If you can get that going the arm has to follow.
  15. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Member

    Re footwork, when I taught my kid to throw, I’d tell him to point at his target (me) with his left hand (he’s right-handed) and point the hand with the ball in it the opposite direction. Then throw. You can’t do that without more-or-less proper footwork. I’d demonstrate. He’d mimic. Most kids are good mimics.
  16. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member

    Thank you everyone.
  17. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

    Tons of kids when first starting struggle with keeping the glove "fingers up" - they want to back up so the ball can land in the glove turned palm up. An easy way to help break this habit is to play catch with a tennis ball with the kid on their knees. Start without a glove and she'll get used to moving her hand in the right direction - then add the glove. Being on her knees limits how much she can move her body, so she has to move the glove the right way.
  18. Old Fart Tree

    Old Fart Tree the maven of meat Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Yeah, this is exactly what I meant (I was in a rush when I posted). If you follow dhappy's advice, it'll get the overall body mechanics moving in the right direction. Throwing starts with the feet.
  19. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Member


    Agree x10. Learning to catch is much easier without a glove.
  20. Justin Ricke

    Justin Ricke lurker

    Lot's of good advice on here for this one! I agree video's over books. Also agree get a tennis ball or soft trainer ball to start, nothing kills catch with a beginner like getting hit in the head with a ball. I would also add KEEP IT FUN, with a beginner like you've got it's more important to keep them engaged and get them reps than to drill them on getting it perfect. Good Luck!!!
  21. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    There are some pretty good visuals in the video posted above. I get kids when they're 8-10 years old. Most of them have played organized baseball for 3-5 years, Fall and Spring seasons (this is Florida - we are year 'round). Less than 10% of these players come to me with anything near correct throwing technique. One of the first things I tell them at the first practice "I guarantee you will not finish this season throwing incorrectly."

    These are the techniques I try to drill and teach (some already mentioned)
    • Hold the ball in a loose four seam grip out on the fingertips leveraging the seams for grip, including the thumb on an underneath seam
    • There should be visible gap between the palm of the hand and the baseball
    • As the ball is removed from the glove and the ball and throwing arm are starting back, rotate the torso and point the glove shoulder and one of either the elbow or the glove itself at the target (be nearly sideways to the target)
    • When taking the arm behind the back, point the ball down to the ground, back of hand up - should be pointing down as forward arm motion starts toward release
    • Glove side foot step straight at the target, preferably toe pointed at the target (toe point is especially true for pitching)
    • As forward motion begins, bring the core into the throw not just the arm (same principal as hitting)
    • Carry the ball forward and over the shoulder and release at target - throwing arm follow through pointing at the ground somewhere near the glove side knee
    • Keep the glove up and elbow bent after release - don't hang it down to the ground - elbow height or higher (again, especially important for pitching)
    • Follow the throw with the throwing hand foot brought forward at least one partial step - torso should be leaning toward the target at the waist
    Early in the season a good drill for teaching the hand pointed downward once drawn back: have the kids kneel in two parallel lines about 10-15 apart. Each kid has a throwing partner in the other line. Glove shoulder should be pointing at the partner. They should have the glove side facing each other. Place a ball on the ground behind each player in one of the lines. The player should be able to reach this ball with his throwing hand with a slight torso twist and short reach back behind him. One by one have them reach back, pick up the ball from the ground and throw to the partner all in one motion. Follow the glove elbow or glove pointing at target and kept up after the throw mentioned above. Repeat for the other line. You can add a contest or competition to it for fun - first one to throw and catch 10 in a row, something like that. Once they are generally doing this correctly while kneeling, have them stand up and throw normally.
  22. Over Guapo Grande

    Over Guapo Grande panty merchant SoSH Member

    I hope that this the proper place for this (though it may be better suited for TBLTS)- My SO's daughter (age 6 now) started playing t-ball last summer. She struggles with throwing... not a big deal, most kids do. But this winter as we were tossing snowballs at each-other, I noticed that her inclination was to throw lefty, while everything she has been 'coached' has been righty. She tends to want to cut her food lefty, too... so I think that is her natural side.

    I am thinking of just dropping a bunch of balls in front of her, no glove, and have her throw them at me-- just to reaffirm that. THe TBLTS part would be communicating to her father if it turns out she is truly a lefty... as he is the one who paid for her equipment/ registration last year...
  23. Fred not Lynn

    Fred not Lynn Dick Button Jr. SoSH Member

    When you teach catching and throwing skills, you don’t necessarily need to link them as playing catch, because at first the main thing you’ll be practicing is ball-retrieval skills... get a bucket of balls of your choice and spend a bunch of reps throwing them off into a field, or a fence or whatever. Then after you’ve done the number of reps you wanted, you can toss them to the athlete and do a bunch of uninterrupted reps practicing catching.
  24. Skiponzo

    Skiponzo Member SoSH Member

    Great stuff from Lowe up above. I’ll add that teaching them to follow through is key (especially when pitching). I make them bring the hand all the way through the throw and slap their hip/ass. Keep the motion loose and with a little snap.

    I also teach them “the circle”. When bringing the ball up from posting to ground (or by the hip) the arm goes in a sort of circle to complete the throw. The quicker you get through that circle the harder the ball will come out.
  25. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Can you explain that second paragraph in more detail?

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