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Advanced Catchers Blocking Drill

Advanced Catchers Blocking Drill (Don’t Let Me hit You in the Face)

 

 

It’s so important for us as catchers to block the ball.  To give the pitcher confidence! To give the coach or manager confidence!  That we are going to keep the ball in front.  Keep the double play in order.  That run is not going to score from third.

When we do the dropping drills if the catcher knows the ball is going into the dirt, its not really all that difficult to get down in front of it.

We need to raise the level of difficulty.  Coach Casey is going to throw balls at me.  Some of these are going to be in the air.  Some of these are going to be in the dirt.  There will be some strikes and I will catch them.  There will be some in the dirt and I will come down to block.

I’m still going to do the drill, but I am going to do it from my knees.  I’m eliminating the part where I’m dropping to my knees and just set up.  I’m going down or I’m staying right there and catching it.  You’ll see why I say, “Don’t let it hit you in the face.”

You can see, I have to react to the ball.  I can’t automatically go down.  I can’t just anticipate what it’s going to be.  You start adjusting and you are going to get hit in the face or the shoulder.

This raises the level of difficulty.  This is going to make you a more efficient blocker of the ball because, lets be honest, we don’t know when the pitcher is going to throw one in the dirt.  We’ve got to be ready all the time.  To become a more efficient blocker, use these drills.  Get down there and don’t let me hit you in the face.

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Baseball Catcher Stance

Baseball Catcher Stance vs Comfort Stance

 

So I was fortunate. I had a lot of great coaches in my career. One of my favorite coaches was Tony Pena. It was when I was with the New York Yankees. Tony was flamboyant. He was exciting. He’s one of the greatest catchers to ever play this game. He’s often remembered for one of his one baseball catchers stance. He would have a way of being on the ground, leg out to the side on a knee. Yeah that’s the picture. And when he would set up like this, you wondered how he’d even get up. But that was his comfort stance. And in today’s lesson were going to talk about your comfort stance. Well what is a comfort stance?

That is where there’s nobody on base. There’s not two strikes on the hitter. This is where we have to be comfortable as a catcher. This is where we want to spend our game. We want to sit here. We need to be able to sit here. We need to be able to have tee sitting here like this. So how do we get to this. First off we want our feet to be a little bit like a duck. Our feet are spread out and our rear end is basically resting on our calves at this point. If you can’t get down there I understand. It’s going to be different for each catcher. Not every catcher looks the same. But we want to be as low as possible. The reason is we want to give the pitcher the lowest target we can possibly give him.

The other thing is we want to make sure our glove is as wide and open because pitchers like to see a big target. Their not perfect but they want something to aim at that’s going to give them the best chance to succeed. And are job as a catcher is to give them that. Were here to help that pitcher do better each day. That is a major job of the catcher. So when were in our comfort stance we want to be as low as possible. Our chest is square to the pitcher. We don’t want to be turned to far sideways. We don’t want to be sitting to straight up. We want to be nice and low right here for the pitcher. Yeah just like that.

We also want to make sure are bare hand is behind our back. Here’s what I want you to do. Tuck your thumb in wrap your hands around it. It’s basically a fist. A nice loose fist with our thumb tucked in. Now put this behind your back. Because I can promise you. If this hands exposed and gets hit, it hurts. You don’t want to find out yourself although I’m sure you will. Keep this hand behind your back. Our target’s low at the knees. This way our pitcher has the best chance to succeed. So this is our comfort stance. Were nice and low. Were making him look good. That’s our job. Were catchers. So next time your behind the dish. Give the pitcher a low target. Give him a chance to succeed. And have a great game.

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The Baseball Catcher’s Set Up

Baseball Catcher Set Up

What is the proper way for a catcher to set up? How do you stand, squat and prepare to do your job most efficiently? Let me be clear: all catchers should have their own style that works best for them. One should not be a clone. The same is true for hitters, pitchers and all of us in general. There are certain elements that should be included, although they may look different from catcher to catcher. The bottom line? It’s about just getting the job done.

3 Basic Stances for a Baseball Catcher

1. Stance to give signs.

2. Stance to receive with no one on base, and less than two strikes

3. Stance to receive with someone on base and/or two strikes on the hitter.

The stance to give signs for a catcher is up on his toes. His knees are close enough together closing off the first and third base coaches from looking in and seeing the signs. The catcher’s glove hand is placed on his left knee, or in front of his left knee for added protection from the opposing coaches or players. The sign is then given with the right hand and is up against the cup. You don’t want a lot of angle in the sign making it more difficult for the pitcher to see i. Have coaches stand in either coaching boxes to check the exposure of the signs.

The stance with no one on, and less then two strikes, is your most comfortable catcher stance. This is where you hope to spend most of the game. Right hand is behind your back or behind the right leg hidden from the ball while the glove presents a large target to the pitcher. Your chest is square to the pitcher not offset or angled. And your feet are a little more then shoulder distance apart. You right foot should be about 3” further back then the left, but not much more than that. This will give the catcher an extra couple of inches to reach for the pitch down and away without hitting his knee. If you offset too much it make it difficult to block pitches and receive pitches to glove side of the plate.

The lower the stance, the better the target. Glove should be at the lowest part of the strike zone. This stance will be somewhat dictated by your body design. Remember, you have the best seat in the house, while the umpire has the second best. If you do not lower the stance, the umpire is blocked out and the last thing he will remember is where the ball was when it was a long way from the plate. The lower the stance, the better calls the pitcher will get from the umpire.

The stance, with runners on base or with two strikes is similar but the feet are a little wider and the catcher’s rear end is higher in the air. From this position the catcher must be ready to block a pitch in the dirt or throw out a base stealer. The right or bare hand is behind the glove. The hand should be closed around the thumb. It is like a loose fist with thumb tucked in.

Lastly, how far back should the catcher be from the hitter? The simple answer is as close as you can be without getting hit by the batter. The final distance depends on the hitter. Some hitters have longer swings and some have longer backswings. In those cases you need to back up a bit more. Here is a point of reference I used. If set up in the middle of the plate, the catcher should almost be able to extend his glove hand and touch the batters back knee.

Remember, all of these suggestions are starting points. As the leader on the field the catcher must help adjust his teammates, as well as himself. Preparation for each pitch, with the proper set up, will help make you a better catcher.

From Behind the Dish,

Chad

 

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