BaseballPreparing for The Main Act | The Exchange by Eddy Rodriguez


Blog by: Eddy Rodriguez

Sep 8, 2023


Preparing For the Main Act – the Exchange

Throwing is one of the more personal things a baseball player does. We can argue that for a position player hitting is the most personal, but throwing is a close second. Arm strength is not only a conversation piece amongst players, but it is also one of the main points of emphasis by recruiters/scouts when evaluating players. Another reason that the arm strength is so personal is because it is something really simple to measure. We know for pitchers the standard is 90 MPH, which is the benchmark velocity pitchers try to surpass. Behind the plate this benchmark is not the focus, instead our benchmark is measured in time.  We focus our benchmark on the 2.0 second pop time. 

This blog will not be about the arm strength component of a pop time, instead we are going to dive into the exchange (or the transfer).  The exchange involves the act of getting the ball from our glove into our throwing while getting the body in position to throw the baseball at optimal velocity and accuracy in a quick and efficient move. In order to understand this further, we will additionally dive into some of the misconceptions of the exchange.

Let’s dive in!

For long we have been told that the trick to a low transfer time is being “quick”. Quickness is definitely a part of it. Step one for us here at The Florida Baseball Ranch is “pre-catch movement”. Pre-catch movement happens as the ball is traveling after pitcher release and we are beginning to put our body in position to create efficient footwork. In our opinion this is something that is crucial because if we do this inefficiently we will have difficulty in the next steps of the process of throwing. Some common coaching commands in the past have been to “stay low” and “move like an airplane taking off, not helicopter”. As we have been dissecting here at FBR the elite throwers in MLB, most if not all go more upwards like a helicopter than forward and gradual lift.

After we have initiated that movement the next step is to get that ball to our barehand in preparation for the throw. 2 major discussion points on this topic: when do we get the ball to our barehand and at what height do we transfer the ball? I don’t mean to over simplify this, but get the ball from mitt to barehand ASAP and transfer the ball at whichever height it guarantees no bobble and promotes a clean/powerful arm action. Nope, I didn’t say transfer the ball “in the middle of your body” nor did I mention “transfer the ball by your ear.” Strong arm actions are typically initiated below the chest and above the hip line. Lets get that ball to our hand so we can load up and let it fly!

As all this is happening our body is moving in space. Remember this move is more of a helicopter instead of gaining ground. Wait…… did we just say DON’T gain ground???? Not exactly. But video analysis will show that upwards of 80-90% of catchers never actually gain ground when throwing to second base. Actually some even step backwards with their back foot. Yes, they step backwards! I cannot tell you how many times prior to 2016 I told students “make sure to jab forward with the right foot”. Some players need to FEEL this, but a grand majority of the time this is far from what is REAL. 

Diving in a little deeper, think about the following:

  • Hitters’ stances
  • Pitchers’ first move from the windup
  • Outfielders attempting to throw someone out at the plate 
  • Infielders fielding a ball and then throwing to first

In reference to the athlete’s pelvis:

  • Hitters are already “sideways”
  • Pitchers take sidestep and get “sideways”
  • Outfielders charge the ball hard and turn “sideways” to throw
  • Infielders field the ball rotate hips “sideways” to face the target and throw 

Catchers are not any different. Catchers are athletes. The only caveat is we have been told for 200 years to jab step forward, when really we should be telling them “as that ball is arriving, fight to turn those hips sideways towards your target”. The more of this can be done prior to the ball hitting your mitt the lower your exchange time will be!

So where does the right foot go??? In reality it goes anywhere as long as we are getting “sideways”. Some catchers think to “replace” the right foot with the left foot, some think right foot under right their hip, some don’t even think about foot and think about their hips, some think about shoulders. Shoot….some even think to step back. Typically the “step back” action is performed by taller catchers such as Salvador Perez who is 6’3”.

Think of the exchange as the opening act to a concert or a show. All they are doing is slowly working towards the main act. Making sure to do their best to leave everything in place to give opportunity for most success. Exchange isn’t only about being quick, it is about being quick while putting your body in position to throw the ball hard and accurately at your target.

Prepare for the main act and get to work on your exchange!

Win Every Pitch!

Check out our Transfer/Exchange Webinar where Greg/Josh/Eddy dive in deep into each of these topics. Remember to follow us on all social media and check out our website for upcoming camps and 1:1 training with our coaches.


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