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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 Catchers Blocking Drill – Knee Drill

Baseball Catching Blocking Drills

 

            One of the key fundamentals of being a catcher is blocking the ball.  We need to make sure we are in a good position so that we are able to keep the ball in front.  This helps set up double plays.  It keeps the runner from scoring on balls in the dirt.  It gives our pitcher more confidence.

            When I do blocking drills, I like to take them apart; shorten what needs to be done by the catcher so he can build muscle memory of what needs to be done.  I want catchers to just focus on one or two things.  Let me show you.  Right now I am going to get ready.  Casey is going to throw balls at me.  And what I am going to do is just put the glove between my legs.  My bare hand, thumb tucked in behind my glove.

            The focus for this drill is to stay right here and my chin is going to go down.  That is all I do on this drill.

As you can see, all I am doing is staying right there.  My arms aren’t moving.  My glove is filling the hole between my legs.

            There is a next step to this drill.  Let me show you.  What I am going to do is give a target now.  Bare hand is going to be behind the glove.  Thumb still tucked in.  That’s how we protect from getting broken fingers.

            So we are going to focus on glove down, bare hand behind glove, chin to my chest.  Just like that.

            You can see, all I’m doing is coming from here and going down.  The mistake that is going to be made is that most catchers at first will go with their bare hand on the outside.  You can obviously see why this is going to be a problem.

           For these drills I use T-balls.  They bounce a little higher, but you get the same feel.  You get the same work without all the bruises.  Just make sure that it is bare hand behind the glove and down.  Here and down.  It is so important that my chin makes it to my chest.  If it doesn’t, we leave our throat exposed, and catchers can really get hurt.

            Use these drills. Become a more efficient blocker.  Build that muscle memory so when it happens we don’t have to think about it; we react.  Use this drill and become a better catcher.

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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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Plays at the Plate

The Catcher and Plays at the Plate


So one of the more exciting plays for a catcher, is plays at the plate. It can also be one of the most dangerous plays for a catcher. I speak from experience. I tore an ACL my junior year in college on a play at home plate because I was not in the proper position. So what do we do? How do we get in the proper position where we can be safe on a play at home plate? Now understand, not until you get into professional baseball should you be able to run over a catcher. That being said, I was in college where you can’t run over the catcher and that’s where I also got hurt.

So we want to make sure we set up and we’re always prepared for that. So here’s what it looks like. We always want to make sure we’re about 6 to 8 inches in front of home plate. The reason is if he slides into us and our foot comes back, we want to still be able to stop him before he gets to home plate. So our foot is about 6 to 8 inches in front of home plate. Very important, make sure your foot and your knee are always pointed at the 3rd base bag. That is how we protect ourselves. If we get turned sideways, we become exposed. Where our knee our ankle becomes very exposed. We want our left foot pointed at the 3rd base bag. Our foot our knee are both pointed directly there. From here we want to stay in an athletic position.

The lower we can get the better. It makes it easier to see the hop. Most throws aren’t going to make it here on the line. And let’s be honest, most of them aren’t going to be that accurate. But we want to set up, our foot’s 6 to 8 inches from the line. If the throws coming from left field it’s an easy play for us because we can see the whole play in front of us. We set up. Our glove is always open. No reason to set up and have our glove like this because we’re going to field a ball. The ball is going to bounce into us. We want our glove open. So from here we’re low. We catch the ball. Always take your bare hand, put it around the ball. Drop to a knee, deliver the tag and come up ready to make a play at another base.

This can be a little different with a play in center field. The throw will come over the mound. Sometimes that actually poses a little bit of a problem. You’d be surprised how often the ball actually hits the mound on a throw home. So we’re set up, same stance 6 to 8 inches in front of home plate, foot pointed at 3rd. As low as we can be, we’re set up like this. So when I catch the ball my bare hand goes around it. I come down and deliver the tag.

Here’s the dangerous one, the throw from right field. Catcher’s blind, we’re looking this way. Our foot’s still set up the same. We’re 6 to 8 inches In front of home plate, knees still pointed at 3rd base. This difficulty is we’re set up, we’re catching a ball here and we can’t see him. This is where catcher’s get hit most often because we’re set up here and we’re trying to deliver a tag this way and we can’t see where he’s at. So that’s why we want to stay as low as possible, keep our knees in line, stay as low as possible and deliver the tag. Remember he has to touch home plate. So tagging up high when he slides down isn’t always a good thing. Catch the ball, bare hand around it. Deliver the tag. Be aggressive with it. He’s going to be aggressive coming into you. So the next time you’re behind the dish, be safe. Keep your knee pointed at the bag, stay low, be confident, deliver that tag and be safe.

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