The quickest way to get a ball in from the fence or from a location that is farther than one quick throw is a softball relay throw. This throw makes it easier to get the ball to its destination quickly and with less chance for errors. It happens when the ball is hit in between two outfielders, over an outfielders head, or down the line out of reach of the left or right fielder.
Softball Relay Throw Execution
The middle infielder sets up between the base that the ball is going to and the player who is going to make the first throw. This is most times the outfielder closest to the ball. If the ball is hit to the right side of the field it is the second base player who sets up and if it is on the left side of the field the shortstop sets up for the relay.
The player closest to the ball gets there and then looks for the relay player just outside the infield. If one of the middle infielders has a stronger arm then she might be designated to take all relay throws. This is different from a cut play where the first base player is the person to look for. This player is going to receive your throw and relay it to its destination.
The relay player moves about one third the distance between the thrower from the outfield and the destination because the outfielder has the stronger arm. She then puts her arms up in the air like a goal post and calls for the ball so that she is visible and can be heard. This may be opposite if the infielder has a stronger arm. It is entirely dependent on the team abilities. The catcher or the player she will be throwing to can adjust her position by saying left or right so that it is a straight line to the base. It is important for the destination base to have a backup in the event of an errant throw.
The catcher will call out the play and where the throw is going because she has the best view of the field. If she determines that there does not need to be a relay and the outfielder is just going to get the ball in she will let her know. In this case the outfielder will get the ball to the middle infielder. If it is to be relayed she will call for the ball to be relayed to the pitcher, second or third base or to home if there are no runners on base. The relay player can call out the message to the outfielder so she knows in which direction to look.
Softball Relay Throw Mechanics
The relay player receives the throw and then pivots on the glove side of the body with a step towards the destination with the throwing side foot. If needed, she can use a crow hop to get the ball there faster. This will depend on how far away she is from the receiver she is throwing to.
This step requires a lot of practice because it seems almost natural for most players to turn and pivot on the throwing side instead. It needs to be reinforced to create muscle memory as any skill in softball.
Here is a relay drill that will be perfect for your team
Two lines of players lined up on the field. The first player throw the ball to the glove side of the second player in the line. Do the same for the rest of the players until the ball gets to the end of the line. The last player who receives the ball can do a spinarama and throw the ball back down the line or run to where the ball started and start again.
It can be done in a relay as well which ads some stress to the situation. It is when players are anxious that errors occur the most. It is best to have at least 4 players per line and have them spread out at least 50 feet apart. The team that finishes getting the ball down the line and back is the winner. You can dictate how many times this occurs such as saying every player has to be at the beginning. You will see at the beginning many errors and as the team gains more confidence and realizes just how fast it can happen if done correctly, the errors will diminish.
You can also use a stop watch and time the complete rotation. This illustrates a game like situation as well because as we know milliseconds count in defensive play.
This teaches the proper location for the relay throw and also reinforces a quick glove side pivot and release of the throw. The receiver has to create a smooth and quick transition to decrease the time of the execution.
The important thing in this play is that there needs to be communication and backup. For this reason it is critical that you practice the relay in different situations and add stress to the situation. It is not uncommon for the outfielder to want to quickly get rid of the ball and miss the target. Mental training is a good tool to teach the players to execute under control.