The Ole Ball Game

do you ever coach an infielder to throw underhanded?

by Don Blake
(Houston, Texas)

Photo Bill Stanton:

Photo Bill Stanton:

Don asked: I have never allowed young players to throw underhand regardless of the situation or the proximity of the target because I feel they are likely to lose control and because it is too slow. Am I wrong?

Rick answered: Don, thank you for your question.

I would include underhand flips as part of all infield fielding progressions from the start, as it's a tool they will all use at some time and helps them fine tune some ball handling skills.

The majority of these flips come at or around second base; but are an essential skill for first basemen feeding pitchers as they cover ground balls hit to the right side.

Third baseman have a use for flips at times for plays at the plate, as do pitchers.

It provides the ability to adjust the height and speed of a throw at short range better than coming overhand. Quite often close around the base, the ball needs to be hung in the air, rather than put on a line. Underhand is easier on both ends of the throw.

Looking at the picture above, the player has squared up to his target, seperated the ball from his glove, stepped directly at his target with his throwing side foot, will be flipping the ball with a stiff wrist and then be following the ball towards the target.

  • Square body to target

  • Seperate ball from glove so receiver can see it

  • Step directly at your target with your throwing side foot

  • Flip underhand with a stiff wrist

  • Follow the ball towards the target

Have players yell "flip" to alert their target, as they are fielding the ball, provides some additional work on team communication skills, an area there can never have too much work in.

Younger kids find it fun and sometimes challenging. Once they get the hang of it, it is faster and more accurate, in and around the bags.

It is an additional way to get them working on ball handling, footwork and transfer skills, which is always a plus.

The step by step progression makes it easy to teach, and for younger players, to understand.

Once they gain some proficiency with it, there is the immediate benefit of an increase in self confidence that provides the base on which to build additional skills.

Thank you again for your question. Have fun with your upcoming season.

Yours in baseball,


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