How do I help my 9yo catcher with arm strength?
This week I received a message from a softball parent. Their daughter is 9-years-old and is moving up to 10U this fall.
Here’s what the parent asked me…
She catches, but just can’t make the throw to 2nd. She does good with 1st and 3rd. What can I do?
My answer was this…
A few things…
1. 9 is pretty young. I started playing at age 9. I played short stop. I don’t remember this, but my coach said that I used to one-hop the ball from SS to 1b! And still I made the all-star team and eventually went to a DI school on scholarship and I didn’t really do anything to “build arm strength” except grow and practice. The fact that I don’t even remember one bouncing balls to 1b just goes to show you how much of a big a deal was NOT made by anyone about my “arm strength.” I mean, I knew I didn’t have a “strong arm” because there were always a few girls on the team that obviously had MUCH stronger arms than I did, but I never thought of myself as having a “weak” arm either. Though, if I were looking at myself one hopping balls from SS to 1b now, I’d think I had a weak arm lol
2. What can you do? Be patient. She’s 9. She may simply NOT yet be physically ready to make that throw. We really can’t tell without seeing what’s going on. And if it’s a developmental thing, then NOTHING you do will change that right now. Trying to force it or make a big deal out of it could cause long term issues you don’t need.
3. What else can you do? Teach her how to make a solid throw (mechanically, i.e. make sure she’s using her LEGS to their fullest!) I and shoot it LOW to 2b (even if it bounces), NOT high. Eventually, when she builds up the arm strength, she’ll already be doing everything else “right.”
4. You CAN do some body weight exercises to improve overall strength, core strength, and shoulder stability: planks, pushups (and variations thereof), moving pushups, bench dips, handstands (against a wall or fence), climbing, pullups, etc.
The reason I say climbing and pullups, is because your arm will only go as fast FORWARD as the muscles on the back side of the shoulder can slow it down. So working the front side only doesn’t work optimally.
No matter how strong that front side gets, if the back side of the shoulder is weak and can’t slow the arm down efficiently, the arm won’t go forward as fast as those front muscles are strong. They only go as forward fast as the back muscles can slow them. Does that make sense?
SO, probably even more important than pushups are pullups (or variations thereof) or climbing up fences or walls or jungle gyms or exercises (like rows) where you’re pullling, not pushing.
5. I definitely wouldn’t just throw MORE in order to get better at throwing 😉
You know what was really cool? I posted this question in my private FB group so this parent could get some input from others as well. The members there gave some GREAT feedback! Loved it! You can read their thoughts and suggestions here. If you’re not a member yet, just click on the JOIN button and I’ll try to get you approved as soon as I can!
See you there 🙂