Quick feet are the key to quick throws from catchers

Catchers have an enormous deal of responsibility behind the plate. Not only do they have to call the pitches, make sure the pitcher is hitting his marks and keep the ball in front of them at all times, they also have to manage runners on the basepaths.

The latter duty is probably one of the more difficult things to do in the game of baseball, as so many things need to come together in order to get off the perfect throw. First, the catcher has to see the runner advancing in the corner of his eye while the pitch is soaring in his direction. He then needs to make a good catch, get a solid grip on the ball, spring up, plant his feet and fire a perfect throw right into the glove of the receiving fielder. And, of course, all of this needs to happen before the runner gets there.

The gel that holds together a good throw down to second or third base is quick feet. With slow or clumsy steps, the throw will either be wild or won't get there in time. Since a number of catchers aren't exactly the smallest or fastest players on the team, coaches need to take the time in practice to improve their catchers' footwork.

Up-down conditioning drills are common in football, and can be useful in baseball, too. Have your catchers start in the standard crouch position with a ball in their youth catchers mitt. Quickly. instruct them to either drop to their knees or pop up into a throwing position.

When they drop down, they should immediately be instructed to throw to first or third base. When they spring up, they should be told to throw to any of the three bases. This will help them master reaction time, footwork and throwing mechanics.