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Catching

Baseball Catcher Instruction on video by Chad Moeller, the online leader in catcher instruction and baseball catching drills.



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Catcher Signals

A Catcher’s Stance and Catcher Signs

 

So catchers are basically the managers on the field. We tell the pitcher where to get over. Were in charge of a whole lot of things that take place out here. Were leaders on the field. We have to. Were the only one’s that see the whole field. It’s a rule that if you don’t like it, don’t catch because you have to be a leader.

So were going to talk about giving catcher signals. Once again were in control of this. A sign might be coming from our manager in either dugout or were just telling the pitcher what we believe he should do. From this stance, like we talked earlier, were in our stance to give signs. We got our third base coached blocked. We got our first base coach blocked. We want to give our signs. We want to give them in a way where only our pitcher and our middle infielders can see them.

Now when we talk about giving signs it’s not a big deal if there’s no one on base because there’s not that many people out there that can see them. But if there’s somebody on second base, that’s a little different. If there’s somebody on first that can also be different.

We want to use multiple signs. We want to disguise it because this is our information. This is not public knowledge. We don’t want everybody to know what’s coming. If a hitter knows what’s coming he’s sure going to put some damage into your pitcher.

The other part of that is if a guy on first base knows what’s coming and he sees a breaking ball, he knows it’s a good chance to run. He knows the pitch is going to be slower. That’s why we want to keep these closed. It’s always a good time for a base runner to steal when there’s a breaking ball coming because it’s probably going to bounce. No matter what, it’s going to be slower. So that’s why we want to stay closed and give good signs.

I’m going to give you a few examples of different sequences to use. One of them that’s often used, way to often, would be second sign. So we’d go three, one, two, one. That would be a fastball. That’s pretty basic. Some more in depth ones would be sign after two. So it would be three, two, one, three. That would be a fastball also.

There’s a lot of different sequences you can use. Look the idea is to keep the man on second from knowing what’s coming or a man on first from knowing what they want to run. We don’t want this hitter to know what’s coming. This is our knowledge. Were in control of this. So the next time your behind home plate, keep them to yourself. Disguise them a little bit. Don’t tell everyone what’s coming and have a great game behind the dish.


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A Catchers Blocking Stance

The Throwing Blocking Stance

 

I remember a game at Shea stadium. Four hours and twenty-five minutes. I have no idea what the score was. My legs hurt so bad by the end of it. It’s because I spent too much of the game in my catchers throwing and blocking stance with runners on base. That stance is a little different from our comfort stance where were all the way down.

Let’s talk about that. Our comfort stance were down nice and low but when we have a runner on first, second or third base, or two strikes on the hitter, we have to be up out of this position. Here’s what it’s going to look like. My rear end is now up off my calves. My right foot is still set about instep back behind my left. We still can show a low target.

Here’s one of the differences. Our bare hand, still closed around are thumb, is behind our glove. It doesn’t need to be touching it. It just has to be on the same line. So from this position we can drop down and block a ball. From this same position we need to be ready to come out and make a throw to second. This stance is going to take a little bit more toll on your legs. So hopefully you don’t spend too much of your game in this stance.

Hopefully you have quick games so you can spend the whole time in your comfort stance. But if not, make sure you get yourself a good base, feet are spread out, continue to give a low target. Put that bare hand behind and give yourself the best chance to make a throw, to block the ball. Use this tip the next time your behind the dish.

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Catcher’s Set Up – Distance to Hitter

A Catchers Set Up Position in Relation to the Hitter

 

So my teammate Carlos Lee with the Milwaukee Brewers did something I’ve never seen happen and you probably won’t see it happen again. He took a swing, came all the way through, he actually hit the umpire with his back swing. I know, the umpire right. Catchers get hit every so often but the umpire really. Yeah he hit the umpire right in the shoulder, caught him right in the side with a back swing.

So today i want to talk about how far back the catcher setup should be from the hitter. This simple answer is as close as we can be without getting hit. Well what is that distance. If your in the crouch you should be able to reach out and almost touch the hitter’s back knee. If your standing up we should almost be able to reach out and almost touch the hitter’s back elbow. Now understand, this is not a guaranteed way to avoid catcher’s interference. But it is a general guideline that you can follow.

We want to be as close as we can without getting hit. The reason is when were set up, the deeper we back up, the lower I’m going to end up catching this pitch. Like it or not, the umpires call pitches based on how the catcher catches them. They’ll tell you it’s where it crosses the plate. The reality is how the catcher makes it look. So the closer we can get to the home plate, the higher we can hold a low pitch. If we have to scoot up further and further back, were now going to catch that same pitch down here that we would of caught up here before. This is always dictated though by the hitter. You must know your hitter. Like I talked about Carlos Lee. If he’s going to hit you on a back swing, you better back up a little bit.

As a matter of fact, Carl Crawford actually got me twice on catcher’s interference. You asked, what’s catcher’s interference? It’s where you get a little too close. You get your hand out there a little too far. Got me on his swing. Came down right on top of my glove. It’s really and embarrassing play for a catcher. Because number one, no one else knows what happens except the batter’s talking. He’s pointing at me. He’s going to first. I get an error on the play. I know. I get hit on the hand, possibly break a hand and he gets to go to first. And I get an error. So we need to find what that distance is. How far back? We want to be as close as we can without getting hit. So find your distance behind the hitter. This tip will help you stay safe behind the dish.

 

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Catch the Ball

Catcher Set Up – Catching the Ball Fundamentals

 

So my high school coach. He was a large man. About six foot four, six foot five three hundred pounds. Really loud voice. Never cursed, but you always new where he was. That voice was unmistakable. So when I would drop a pitch behind home plate You know it happened once in a while. Not very often, but it would happen. I’d drop a pitch. I would here this voice, “catch the ball“, every time. I would think I was the only one on the field and he would still see it happen. He may of been at home at he saw it happen.

So as a point of pride as a catcher, the rest of my career, I always made sure I caught the ball. It bothers me when I watch games and I see catchers dropping the ball and not taking pride in making that pitch look good. That’s our job. Well just think about it. What’s the name of our position? That’s right were catcher’s. We catch the ball. So how do we do it?

Here’s what I want you to do. Take your glove off. That’s right squat with me. Take your glove off. See how my hand makes a V right here? We want this V to the sky. Our thumb should be pointed somewhere between two o’clock and three o’clock. We don’t want our thumb going down. Once our thumb goes down, our elbow goes up. What happens here is now we have a whole half turn to get to this pitch. Let me show you. My thumb right now is pointed down. This may look like a target you’d give. But now if the pitch is over here, I got a half turn to get there. When we have a V to the sky, my gloves here. I have a quarter turn to this pitch and a quarter turn to this pitch. It makes it much easier for us. When our thumb is pointed down, we have a tendency to catch pitches coming this way, as there moving in. This looks bad and anybody that’s ever done it, realizes this hurts our thumb.

So we want to make sure we give that low target. Our V is pointed up here to the sky. Give that pitcher something to look at. That’s it. Work that glove around. We want to make sure he has the best chance to succeed. That’s our job. When were catching, were making that pitcher look good. That’s our job. Make him look good. So the next time your giving that target. So keep that V to the sky the next time your behind the dish.

 

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Catcher Stance – Framing the Baseball

Catcher Stance and How to Frame the Ball

 

So most of my career was made because I made the pitcher look good. Not because I swung a giant stick. Not because I was the smartest guy on the field. I made the pitcher look good. So how do we do that? When were setting up behind home plate, we want to make the pitcher look as good as he possibly can. By doing that, we want to make sure that strikes remain strikes. That’s right it seems simple, but you’d be surprised watching catchers catch balls and their gloves going down and coming up. Going down and coming up.

One of my pet peeves is when we talk about framing the ball for the pitcher. We’ve been told turn the glove in. Get on top of it. Hold it in the zone this way. It drives me nuts when I see that. I apologize if you’ve been taught that. i was taught that too. But I’ve talked to a lot of umpires, a lot of pitchers, and I don’t think it looks good. So heres what I want you to do. Yeah squat with me thats right. Now show me what it looks like to catch a pitch down the middle. Yeah just like that. That’s a strike. So I want to make every pitch look like that. So if I have a pitch up high, I just squeeze. I just squeeze and sink. Squeeze and sink. If I catch a pitch on the corner, I just squeeze. I Squeeze and sink. If it’s on the corner, i just squeeze and sink.

What your doing when you turn your glove in like this or you turn your glove in like this. You automatically just told the umpire, I thought it was a ball and I’m trying to make it look better than it was. Make him at least figure it out. Catch it well. Catch it like a strike. You don’t have to sell a whole lot. When were catching the low pitch make sure you get below the ball. From here I can catch coming up. The ball is going to be coming on a downward trajectory. I want to get below the ball and catch it coming up. By doing this. I can stop the momentum. If I’m above the ball and Im not low in my stance, its going to take my glove down and go up. And every time that happens, the umpire’s going to say ball. We don’t want to hear that. We want to help our pitcher succeed. If it’s a strike, we want to keep it a strike. If it’s borderline, we want to get that pitch.

So here’s what we do. We sink. We sink. We sink. It’s done in the elbow, it’s not done with the wrist. We don’t want to see this. No one wants to see this. We sink. From here were bringing balls into the zone quietly. Their subtle movements, not these giant turns. It doesn’t look good. No one catches a pitch like this. Were trying to make it look better. No we just sink. Same pitch right here like that. So the next time your behind home plate, don’t make it obvious for the umpire if it was a ball or a strike. Be quite. Be subtle. Don’t change the way the glove looks. Use that tip the next time your behind the dish.

 

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