How to Throw a Baseball – Top Gun Throwing Series

How to Throw a Baseball – Top Gun Throwing Series
(For The Complete Instruction Video on YouTube – click here)  

The ability to properly throw a baseball is one of the first skills a baseball player will attempt to learn. The finer details of throwing can separate the good athletes from the great ones. Factors such as the grip of the baseball in your hand, the rotational arm angle you create, and the release point and follow through are all necessary steps to take in order to make a good throw. As we develop as ballplayers, our mechanics become extremely important; preventing injury, increasing our M.P.H., and defining us as fielders. The Top Gun Throwing Series was designed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and was created to prepare your arm for practice, games, and any other baseball-related activity. This Tip of the Week will give you an inside look at a Professional style warm-up,  correctly warm up all the muscles in your arm, and help increase your arm strength, all while preserving your arm and preventing injury.

The Top Gun Throwing Series is a progression.

Station One – Forearm / Snap of the Wrist

  • Distance – 10 – 12 feet
  • # of throws – 10 – 12
  • Form – Feet are planted firmly on the ground, toes facing your target. Take your glove side arm and hold it out in front of your body, perpendicular to the glove. Take your throwing arm and make a right angle with your elbow resting on top of your glove. Hold the baseball in a four seam grip (Click here to see our “Finding the Seams” Video), and make sure your elbow does not drop below your shoulder. Flick your throwing wrist in a downward motion so the ball rolls off your fingers and towards your target. This triggers the muscles in your forearm; you may feel a slight burn in your muscle, this is normal.

Station Two – Power Position

  • Distance – 5 to 7 feet back from Station One (3 strides)
  • # of throws – 10 to 12
  • Form – After you take your steps back, do not face your partner. You will now turn your body to the right or left (depending on which arm you throw with) so your front hip and shoulder are pointed towards your target. Bend your knees a little, making sure you’re still in an athletic position. Raise your glove side elbow and point it at your target. Think of this as your “aiming device.” With proper mechanics and follow through, pointing your elbow should dictate where your throw will end up. Take your throwing arm, and from your waist, make a large outline of the letter C until your arm is raised at a right angle with your hand pointing out. Hint – If you are wearing a watch on your throwing hand, you should be able to clearly read the time.You are now in a power position.
    • Without stepping or lifting your feet off of the ground, rotate your back hip forward and throw the baseball. Your back foot should pivot into the ground while your front foot should stay planted. (It may slightly open up on the throw, this is okay) Follow through by having your throwing arm finish over your opposite knee.

Station Three – Power Position with Full Follow Through

  • Distance – 5 to 7 feet back from Station One (3 strides)
  • # of throws – 10 to 12
  • Form – This station uses the same concept as Station Two, although we will focus on generating more velocity and power by using a more concentrated and explosive back hip rotation during our throw. Repeat the Steps of Station Two until you are in your power position ready to throw. As you fire your back hip and throw, your back foot should rise off the ground because of the momentum of your throw. You should land with both toes pointing at your target and your feet more or less squared with your shoulders. This signifies a proper follow through.

Station Four – Footwork and Momentum

  • Distance – 5 to 7 feet back from Station One (3 strides)
  • # of throws – 10 to 12
  • Form – The goal of this drill will be to take two steps to get ourselves in our power position. Start with your toes pointing at your partner. Your first step depends on whether you are righty or lefty. Righties will step with their right foot first, while lefties will step with their left foot first. With your first step, make sure to openyour foot (swing it out) as you step, so you can clear your other side with the second step as your front hip and shoulder will end up pointing at your target. As you take your second step, let your front side elbow point at your target as your throwing arm performs the C to power position. If you end up in the same Power Position (with your front hip and shoulder ending pointing to your target) as you did in Station Two, you have performed this correctly.
    • The goal of this station is to create more momentum towards your target; this will in turn generate a stronger back hip rotation and help increase velocity on your throw.
    • Don’t rush through this station. Proper form is key, so your steps and movement should be at about 75% of regular speed.

Station Five – Putting it All Together | One Fluid Motion

  • Distance – 10 to 15 feet back from Station One (5 strides)
  • # of throws – 10 to 12
  • Form – The final station is the culmination of stations two through four. Set up the same way as Station Four, with both feet pointed at your partner. Perform everything the same, but in a more fluid motion. No pausing, no stopping; this is a full throw working on footwork, release, and follow through. This station needs to be performed at game speed.

Cool Down

  • Distance – 20 to 30 feet away from your partner
  • # of throws – 10 to 15
  • How – These are regular throws that we performed in Stations 4 and 5 (two steps, throw, follow-through) except your throws should be at about 75% effort.
    • Less effort doesn’t mean to become lazy on your throws; our mechanics should still be sound, just remember this is the cool down stage.
    • Form – DO NOT GO FROM STATION FIVE TO SITTING DOWN. This station is the most important for arm maintenance and injury prevention. Those five stations will have truly warmed up your arm, but a cool down is necessary before you perform any other baseball activities. These throws should focus on form and be at about 75% effort, giving all the muscles in your arm the necessary cool down they need.

Conclusion

The Top Gun Throwing Series is a Form Throwing Series designed to loosen up your arm and get you ready for games, practice, or any other baseball related drill. It is not a program that is specially designed to just increase velocity, although proper throwing form will allow you to reach your maximum arm strength. Follow these steps correctly, and your arm will be in top shape and ready to perform at 100 percent. Remember that every throw you make should have a purpose. Work on your form, aim for your target, and make sure you’re not aimlessly throwing. Bad habits can form quickly. Be your own coach!

FAQS

Q: I want my athlete to throw harder… how do I increase the M.P.H’s on his fastball?

A: This is an extremely popular question among parents, as the MLB has glorified all pitchers who can throw up that magical three-digit number. The ability to throw with more velocity results from flexibility, arm strength, and proper training. We will have a special advanced tip for our athletes that will lay out a complete Long Toss and Flexibility plan. There are no shortcuts when it comes to throwing “heat,” and if you start with our Top Gun Throwing Series, you’ll have the foundation on which increased velocity and arm strength can grow.

 

Q: Why is my athlete so inaccurate? Is he throwing the wrong way?

A: Inaccuracy in baseball is a result of poor form and concentration. There are so many variables that go into a throw that it’s hard to make a generalization. Some issues could be the release point, disconnection of the lower half, poor rotation, short-armed mechanics, front side leaking, just to name a few. My best advice is to schedule a personal lesson with a ProSwing Instructor. Our staff is trained to evaluate an athlete’s mechanics and not only determine the problem, but provide the best possible solution that your athlete will easily understand. We then try to create the best muscle memory of the proper mechanics, increasing the success rate your athlete will have.
(For The Complete Instruction Video on YouTube – click here)  

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