Getting a baseball over home plate requires several factors.
The first is speed, or the velocity in which the ball arrives at home plate after the release from the pitchers hand.
Then there is movement, or the path of which the ball takes to arrive at home plate. There is lateral movement, called cutting, which is going left from a right-handed pitcher. Running or tailing is movement that is the opposite of cutting. It is the ball moving from the pitcher’s arm side. The last and most devastating movement is depth. This movement lets rotation and gravity bring the ball down.
If a pitcher can incorporate speed with movement to a precise location (middle, in, up, or down) then they can develop into a consistent winning pitcher. The location of all pitches along with movement is and called ball placement. Most people refer to ball placement as control, but the word control really pertains to controlling body movements (mechanics) and control of the mind. The pitcher first must learn the movements and precision of pitching, then the individual pitches to successfully place the ball where he wants.
Ball placement must first be taught in a regular throwing. This means when playing catch, placement or location skills must be emphasized. There are three ways to play catch. There is conversational catch, or simply thrown to a partner with no real emphasis other than reaching your partner and talking leisurely. It is basically a relaxing activity of throwing.
The second form of catch is the purpose catch is based on ball placement. When throwing the ball in the purpose catch, a precise target must be thrown to. For example, in my pitching instructional classes I have all the pitchers playing catch and throwing to the head of their partner. They next throw to the partners left shoulder, then to the right shoulder. They then repeat the process; head, left shoulder, and right shoulder. They can also make two or three throws in a row to each specified target position. This type of catch develops the necessary skills of release, focus, concentration, and visualization. It will also enhance direction and rotation of the body in acquiring accuracy or ball placement.
The final phase in the catch is called the pitcher’s catch. This catch is designed to simulate the pitch or throw as if it were crossing home plate. One partner kneels down as the throwing partner throws the ball. The catcher catches it in the middle of his body while kneeling. This gives the thrower the impression of pitching the ball to a catcher. The pitcher’s catch will develop ball placement skills from all types of pitches, creating the feel of the release of the ball thrown to a specific location on the catcher. After 10 to 15 throws the partners can switch positions, catcher to thrower, thrower to catcher.
These three types of catches can be used by all players and will definitely help develop throwing mechanics and help pitchers with their placement skills.
Have fun and enjoy this great game!