Got an aspiring Little League or softball player?
Throwing a ball requires balance, direction and timing – all of which take practice and patience. Teach your son or daughter these basics from Jeff Trundy, a veteran teacher at The Gunnery prep school in Connecticut and longtime manager of the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League in Massachusetts:
1. Have your child kneel about 20 feet away, with his chest facing you. This position forces him to rotate his upper body and raise his elbow to shoulder height when he throws. Ultimately, you want him to be on top of the ball and throw downhill.
2. Still kneeling, have his arm come to his opposite knee. Kids tend to stop or recoil once they release the ball, and this encourages full follow-through.
3. Now, move to about 40 feet apart and have him stand with his back foot parallel to you and his lead leg out front with the foot at a 45-degree angle. Don’t worry if the child steps forward; you’re simply introducing the idea of first loading onto the back foot and then shifting weight to the front one while throwing the ball.
4. When he’s comfortable, incorporate lifting his front leg and having that foot land toward his target at the same 45-degree angle as he releases the ball.
5. To reach his target, have him imagine throwing to whatever is behind your glove for more strength and accuracy. Tell him to have his chin go to the target as he throws, which will keep his head up, help with direction and ensure follow-through.
6. Don’t focus too much on how your child grips or releases the ball. He’ll see where his ball goes and can self-adjust. Too high? Release the ball later. Too low? Release a little sooner. Let him figure out what works and what doesn’t.
7. Most important, keep the throwing sessions fun. Practice for no more than 30 minutes, focusing on one element, at a time – too much and he’ll shut down. Make a game of it: try distance-throwing contests or have him aim for different spots in your glove, whatever gives him both a challenge and a sense of accomplishment.
– Steve Calechman