It's rare to see a coach these days without a fielding bat and a baseball catching mitt in the kitbag. But the mitt is a tool that can be used by all players.
I can hear people saying, "Hang on, mitts are cheating. Why would a player want one?"
The answer is simple: to improve your throwing.
At club and academy level, it's rare to see players warming up well with throwing. There is usually some kind of drill where the fielders are required to ping the ball to the keeper.
We can do better.
Throwing is tough on the shoulder, so it makes sense to ease yourself in, and the best way to do that is to gradually build up throwing speed and power.
The drill is simple: get into pairs and throw the ball to each other, gradually increasing the distance.
That takes a lot of throws, and so a mitt is a useful tool to save your hands and be more likely to catch the wayward throws (of which there will be many).
Mitts are also useful for the "return journey" when the throws are getting harder.
What do I mean by that?
A throwing warm up has 2 stages:
- "lobbing" the ball back and forth, increasing the distance
- Throwing the ball hard and flat back and forth, decreasing the distance
On the second stage you will be grateful for that mitt. The throws are coming in flat and hard.
In baseball they call this the "long toss" and it's used by pitchers to increase arm speed and power. It works perfectly as a warm up for the arm giving you power and accuracy before you move on to more specific drills.
It's a tool used in strength and conditioning too, so if you are thinking of improving your throws, you would do well to toss a mitt into your bag when you go to practice.
If you are in pre-match warm up mode, once you are done with your throws, you can head into your proper catching, stopping and throwing and leave the mitt for when the bowlers are warming up and the keeper is tied up somewhere else.
So if you want your team to be stronger and more accurate at throwing it's worth investing in a catching mitt each (or at least one between two) so everyone can warm up their throwing arms on the day of the match.
image courtesty of Sarah Canterbury