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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Throwing Errors - Physical Or Mental?

Throwing Errors - Physical Or Mental?

By Jim Bain

Are throwing errors the result of a physical miscue... or a mental lapse? That, of course is a trick question because both or correct. However, do you know it's a proven fact throwing errors are the result of a mental issue more than a physical miscue?

Teaching players "How" to throw begins at Tee-ball, but learning "Where" to throw the ball does not occur until much later, possibly four or five years, into a player's career.

This makes a difference? A resounding "Yes". When players are taught situational strategy and conditioned on where to throw the ball defensive blunders, due to bad throws, drop dramatically.

To explain, let's look at the pitcher, who has to throw every ball over a rubber plate that is 17" wide and within the strike zone, as far as up and down, which could be different for every batter and every umpire. Add this control issue to the pitcher being restricted, by rules, on how and where he must throw the ball from, the pitching mound, this becomes a daunting task. Yet he is expected to achieve this pinpoint control on the greater percentages of his throws.

Now look at an example of the second baseman. The greater percentage of time this infielder, after catching the baseball, has the ability and time to move his feet in order to get into proper throwing position.

He is throwing to a target, first baseman, which could be 6 feet tall or more, with an arm span of three to four feet on either side of the base. In addition, the first baseman is permitted to move from the base, then return, in order to catch the ball. In other words, the fielder is throwing to a target which could measure 10 feet high and 14 feet wide.

Hitting a target 17 inches wide vs. one 14 feet wide, and at times thrown from the exact same distance. Based on this scenario, should there ever be a wild throw to first base created by a pure physical miscue? The answer is most likely, "Not normally."

Yet they do occur and based on proven statistics, mainly from mental mistakes. So how do we stop these mental miscues?

1. Knowing the situation and how you will react is the single most important method in eliminating mental related throwing errors. Number of outs, inning, score, speed of runners, where are force plays and numerous other factors must be analyzed and action assigned to each scenario "Before" the play.

This may seem a daunting task at first, but after obtaining experience the average player will perform this task in a matter of seconds, but it must be a mental action, it's not automatic.

2. Don't compound errors by throwing foolishly. The more throws a play involves the greater the chance of an errant throw. If the infielder muffs the play and has no chance of throwing the runner out at first, why throw it? Sometimes the smart play is to simply hold the ball and limit the damage.

3. Turning long throws into short throws reduces the risk of errors. Ever see a major league shortstop throw to the second baseman for a force out while only beating the runner by a couple of feet, when he could have thrown the batter out at first by yards and wondered why?

The throw to second was shorter. It's just that simple.

Throwing errors created by mental lapses can nearly be eliminated if the player keeps his head in the game, always analyzing, thinking ahead and asking what if this happens.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player and member of "Baseball Coaches of America" shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

Be sure to check out his 2 books on Amazon, "The Pitch" and "Season of Pain". Great reading about baseball.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick