Catcher is perhaps the most difficult position on a softball team, especially for a fast pitch team. The catcher must be able to call the right pitches, catch the pitches properly, block pitches in the dirt, and throw runners out on the bases. And all this must be done while wearing a lot of heavy gear, which can get in the way when throwing. These skills can be improved through various drills, including those that build arm strength to allow the catcher to throw harder and more accurately. The long toss is an effective way to improve a catcher's arm strength.
Cross your arms in front of you, with the throwing arm on the bottom. Bend your arms as if you were hugging yourself, then grasp the elbow of your throwing arm with the hand of the opposite arm. Gently pull the elbow across your chest to stretch your throwing arm. Hold this stretch for five to 10 seconds and repeat three to five times.
Perform warm-up throws. Have your throwing partner stand about 45 feet -- 15 long steps or so -- from you and lightly throw the ball between you. After about five minutes, increase the velocity of your throws. Do this for five more minutes.
Move back about 15 feet, or another five long steps, and throw close to maximum effort. This will put you about 60 feet apart, which is the distance between the bases. Do this for another five to 10 minutes.
Back up another 10 feet. This will put you and your throwing partner approximately 85 feet apart -- about the distance between home and second base. Throw at this distance for another five to 10 minutes.
- Repeat Steps 3 and 4 as many times as you are able.
- Throw at least four times a week. If you don’t always have enough room to do the long toss, at least do some throwing for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Weight training can also build up arm strength. Focus on low weights and many repetitions to build up strength without bulking up, which can hinder throwing speed.
- Be careful about how far you push the distance. If you can only go to 85 feet the first few times you do long toss, that is OK. Gradually push out the distance over many throwing sessions.
- If your arm begins to hurt, stop throwing. Wait until the soreness goes away to start throwing again. If it doesn’t go away after a few days, then go see your doctor.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional writer since 1997. He was a copy editor for several California newspapers, including "The Sun" in San Bernardino, the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" in Ontario and the "San Gabriel Valley Tribune" in West Covina. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in math education from Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho.