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How to Throw Out Base Stealers in Baseball

In the world of baseball, being a catcher is one of the most difficult positions. One of the many reasons catching is so tough is because you have to be able to catch base stealers when they attempt to take extra bases. If you are unable to do so, then the other team will constantly have runners in scoring position. This is a huge advantage for the other team, and will cost you the catcher position over time. Throwing out a base stealer is not as hard as it sounds, even if you do not have a rocket arm like Pudge Rodriguez. The key is to know the little details, and to control the game.

For example, did you know that the majority of stolen bases can be stopped before the baserunner even leaves the base? Making sure your pitcher is on board with this is essential, as they are an important part of stopping those extra bases. Your pitcher must learn to keep the runner close to the bag. This is accomplished by throwing over to the base every so often and attempting a pick off. The idea is not necessarily to get the runner out. The idea is to keep them close to the bag so that they do not get a huge head start when they steal or the batter puts the ball into play.

Another key aspect is to have a set signal for pick off attempts and pitch outs. Pitch outs are when you have the pitcher throw wide of the batter to give you a clear throw to the base. You only signal this when you know for sure the base runner is likely to steal, and when the current batter has a favorable count such as 0-2 or 0-3. Use these signals when you have reason to believe the base runner is going to steal. How do you know that?

The best way to know that the runner is going is to watch their eyes and body language. A baserunner that is about to steal will be looking intently at the pitcher to see when they release the ball. If a runner is not going to steal, they generally will be watching home plate to see what happens with the hitter. The best base stealers know this, however, and watch the pitcher out of their peripheral vision. These base runners are harder to guess. Other signs a base stealer might be going is when the count is in their favor, or when they take an extra large lead from first base.

So you have gone through all of the checklist and you feel that the base runner is stealing. How do you position yourself so that you make the best possible throw? Your feet should be squarely set underneath you with your feet shoulder width apart. You should be on your toes, and ready to spring forward with your throw. One of the primary mistakes a young catcher makes is trying to throw the ball before catching it. This can lead to errant throws or even a passed ball. Catch the ball first.

Once you have the ball secure, then in one full motion you should deliver a low, over the top throw down to the base taking only one step. Many catchers take a few hop steps before throwing to try to get more power behind the throw. This will almost guarantee failure. Take one step and deliver the ball straight and low. This will get the ball to the base the quickest and the most accurately.

It takes a great deal of practice, but throwing out runners that are stealing is something that you can learn to do with a great degree of success. You simply must be willing to take your time and learn the little details along the way.

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