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As with our hitting and pitching philosophies, Baseball Rebellion believes that moving athletically is the key to maximizing your skills as a catcher. From an early age, I was taught to throw to 2nd base by taking a step with my right foot slightly forward and directly in the middle of my feet in the crouched position. While this did get my right foot and leg turned towards my target, it did not cue my hips or torso to rotate quickly, if at all. In this post, I aim to show you a faster and more efficient way of learning footwork to 2nd base from the catching position. In order to do this, I'll use Jonathan Lucroy as he is one of the best throwing catchers in today's game.
The first thing that jumps out at me in this video is that Lucroy's fluid body movement never allows the ball to stop from the pitcher's hand to 2nd base. The commonly taught stepping motion that I mentioned earlier encourages a segmented motion in which the ball moves slower to allow the body to catch up to the initial step that starts the movement. Notice how Lucroy does NOT step in the middle of his crouched base of support. Instead, he allows his hips and body to begin turning before the pitch even reaches his mitt. This results in a much more explosive beginning to his throw since he is using the rotational power of his core, hips, and legs instead of a quick step to initiate the throw. The hips leading the throw results in the back foot being brought by the hips rather than the reverse. This also gets the upper body turned as well so that the quick transfer can continue right into the throw instead of the arm having to stall out to wait for the lower half to be set. Lucroy's back foot ends up where his front foot began in the crouch. Unfortunately, this is something that most youth players are instructed not to do because it is perceived that the momentum would no longer be towards 2nd base. In reality, this is false since a proper initial hip turn will get the body turned to 2nd base more powerfully and efficiently. Many may watch the video above and ask, what about if there is a right-handed hitter?
In this video, Lucroy is receiving a pitch on the inner half of the plate to a right-handed hitter. Because of this, Lucroy is not able to replace his feet as much as in the 1st video but he still initiates the body turn with his hips causing his back foot to land on the 3rd base side of the center of his base of support. The exact placement of the back foot will vary some based on pitch location, the handedness of the batter, and how close the batter stands to the plate. That being said, the exact location of the back foot placement is far less important than the slight shift and turn of the body prior to receiving the ball and leading the throw with a powerful hip turn to match a lightning-quick transfer.
As with almost everything in baseball, if you are being taught something that doesn't feel fast, athletic, and explosive, there is probably a better way. Practice this footwork diligently and watch your pop time improve!
Gabe Dimock - Baseball Rebellion Hitting and Catching Instructor