10 Reasons to Front-Toss [ARTICLE]
|10 Reasons to Front-Toss|
|By: Bob McCreary
Provided by: Baseball by the Yard
There are several ways to practice hitting. Live BP and hitting off a tee are popular ones. All have value but in my opinion and all things considered, front-toss is king. Here are ten reasons why in no particular order.
Safety disclaimer: Whenever you front-toss, please use caution and make sure the screen in front of the thrower is of good quality and free of holes. Be careful of balls ricocheting off poles and the ceiling of cages. Players should always wear helmets when tossing.
1. It mimics the direction the ball will be coming from in the game. This is the problem with soft-toss. Soft-toss is ok but the batter is seeing the ball from the side which is not what he will be expected to do during the game.
2. Anyone can do it. Let's face it ... coaches who can consistently throw great live batting practice are rare even at the higher levels. It's almost nonexistent at the lower levels. Front-toss is easy. The coach can sit in a chair or stand so very little movement is required. The throw can be underhand or overhand, whichever the coach prefers. The shorter distance also allows for lots of swings without the coach having to go right to the chiropractor afterwards.
3. Accuracy. The short distance allows for more accurate throws. Coaches can throw more strikes which takes less time to move through hitters. It also allows pitchers to locate their throws so hitters can work on specific areas of the strike zone. Inside, outside, up, and down in the zone are easily able to be practiced. Mixing all those up also gives the batter something that is realistic to their at-bats.
4. Off-speed pitches. Front-toss can allow batters to work on both change-ups and curveballs without the thrower having to actually throw those pitches. To throw a change-up, the thrower simply takes a little velocity off their toss. Batters learn to keep their hands back. For curveballs, throwers arc the ball more which mimics the downward action of a curveball for the hitter.
5. Sliders and cutters. If you are facing a pitcher that has a good slider or cutter, just move the screen over a little towards the batter's box the batter is in. When you toss the ball it will travel across and away from the batter mimicking those pitches.
6. Lefties and righties. Along with #5, moving the screen over one way or the other can mimic the angle of the pitch that would come from righties and lefties. To mimic a lefty, I just move the screen in front of me to the left a little and use my left hand to underhand the ball to the batter. It takes some practice but it allows the batter to see a lefty's angle without having to find a good left handed BP thrower.
7. Replicates velocity. The shorter distance of the toss mimics the faster pitches that come from hard throwers during games. And the thrower doesn't have to research Tommy John surgery in the process.
8. Promotes swing efficiency. Coupled with #7, front-toss forces hitters to get rid of any unnecessary movement in their swing. The hitter doesn't have a lot of time so they naturally cut out the extras or they will not consistently get the barrel to the contact point.
9. Develops good rhythm. If the thrower uses the correct tossing motion (this will be shown in an upcoming video), batters get a chance to practice the same rhythm they will need to repeat over and over in games.
10. It doesn't take a lot of space. As you will see in my upcoming video, my son and I do front-toss in a small cage I set up in my studio. You can even set up two front-toss areas in a long cage and have both hitters in the center - separated by a net - hitting towards both ends of the cage. You can even set up the thrower in front of the backstop and toss towards the plate. The batter who is standing backwards at home plate hits towards the backstop so the rest of the field can be used for other things. It's tough to think of a drill that can be done by just about anyone that accomplishes all that front-tossing can do. Stay tuned for a video in the near future where I demonstrate a lot that was written in this post.