Strong footwork, a quick release, and accurate throws are essential for excelling behind the plate. While we must be proficient in all of our main skills behind the plate, the ability to consistently deliver good throws around the field is huge. Good footwork and transfers help you to make these quick throws to bases and nail runners when they try to steal. Here, we'll provide you with five drills that you can easily incorporate into your training routine. These simple drills will enhance your footwork, boost your defensive capabilities, and make you a more well-rounded catcher.

Drill #1: T-Drill

The T-Drill is a basic footwork drill for catchers that helps reinforce or teach the footwork used while throwing to bases. This drill also provides an understanding of alignment and sequencing for those just learning the position. To perform this drill, start by taping off or drawing a "T" shape on the ground underneath you, with the top of the "T" positioned underneath your feet while in a crouch. The bottom of the “T” should be in line with second base. Begin in your catching stance and focus on moving your feet from the bottom edges of the "T" and landing parallel to the other line of the "T". Your feet, hips, and shoulders should all be in line with second base. Repeat this movement pattern multiple times, emphasizing quick and precise footwork. Start slow and gradually increase the speed of your transfer as you become more comfortable. Incorporating the T-Drill into your training routine will help you develop the footwork skills necessary to excel as a catcher. Note that this drill can be done with or without a ball. We would encourage you to mimic the arm positioning used to throw even if you are not receiving a ball.

Drill #2: Kneeling Transfers

This drill focuses on improving the speed and efficiency of transitioning from receiving the ball to making a throw while isolating the upper half of your body. To perform Kneeling Transfers, start by kneeling down on both knees behind home plate, with a partner or coach positioned a short distance away (6-8 feet). Begin the drill by having your partner toss a ball towards you, simulating a pitch. As you receive the ball, focus on quickly transferring it from your glove/barehand to your throwing hand while maintaining proper mechanics. Your throwing hand should finish near your ear and you should have a four seam grip on the ball. See how efficient you can be while under control. Once the transfer is complete, return the ball to your partner or make an accurate and quick throw back to your partner. This drill helps develop the muscle memory and coordination required for seamless transfers and efficient throwing motions. By practicing this drill regularly, catchers can enhance their ability to make quick and accurate throws with repeatable transfer mechanics. We would challenge you to move as fast as possible while still remaining smooth (i.e. not out of control).

Drill #3: Kneeling Transfers With Jab Step

To perform this exercise, start in the kneeling position behind home plate like in Drill #2, with a partner or coach standing a short distance away. As your partner tosses a ball towards you, receive the ball and quickly transfer it from your glove/bare hand to your throwing hand. At the same time, incorporate a jab step with your back foot. The jab step is the short and quick step that we make as catchers to get our back foot in the ground while we are transferring the ball before a throw. You may hold this position before returning the ball to your partner. Or, you may push off the ground explosively with your jab step (rear) foot and make an accurate throw back to your partner or even to a base. This drill helps simulate the game-like mechanics needed to transfer and throw while isolating two of the most important pieces of the transfer. This drill is especially useful for those who tend to “hop” or “switch” their feet while transferring.

Drill #4: Transfers to Bases

For this drill, set up different bases on the field, such as first base, second base, and third base (if no bases are present). Or, mark off visuals that represent each base if indoors. Start in your catching stance behind home plate, and have a partner throw a ball to you (if no partner or if desired, complete this drill without a ball). As you catch the ball, focus on quickly transferring it from your glove to your throwing hand, executing proper footwork, and holding a strong throwing stance before returning the ball to your partner. Pay attention to your footwork, ensuring that you pivot and step in the right direction to generate power and accuracy in your throw while remaining quick and smooth. As simple as it seems, regularly working on your transfers will help with your throwing ability without taxing your arm. Finally, when you have completed the exercises above…

Drill #5: Let It Fly (Throws to Bases)

Get ready to throw to each base with high intent and focus. Have your coach or partner deliver throws to the zone/around the zone and transfer and throw the ball to each base. Make sure that your arm is loose beforehand and focus on staying compact and efficient. If available, use a machine to simulate game-like pitches in different locations or make throws while catching a pitcher. Make throws to first, second, and third base. Keep the ball on a line and be as accurate as possible. Maintain your fluid and smooth mechanics while remaining explosive. A good cue for throwing to bases (or anywhere else around the field) is to throw the ball through your target, not just to it. If your arm strength is not where it should be, consider implementing an arm care/strengthening routine or long tossing regularly.

As you may notice while reading through these drills, simplicity is a consistent theme. Execute proper mechanics, stay smooth, and be efficient. When the ball comes out of your hand, accuracy is key for throwing out runners. Control the run game! If you are looking for more advanced transfer exercises, send us a message or check out our options for remote training via The Futures App. You can also check out some of our other transfer drills here!

Photo credit: Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports

Tags: Throw Transfer