From Behind the Dish,
So what is the most important part job of the catcher? In my opinion, the name of the position says it all. CATCHER. Catching the ball from the pitcher is the most important job of the catcher. I can still hear my high school coaches booming voice scream “catchers catch the ball.” Catchers, as they progress should not drop balls or miss catchable pitches consistently. It may happen from time to time but not consistently. This should be a point of pride for a catcher. So how do catchers catch the ball consistently?
First off, the stance must be right to give the catcher a chance (see archives on Set up). Now we need to give the pitcher a target to throw too. What should this target look like? Show the pitcher a big target where he can see the pocket of the glove. With the glove off hold the catcher hand in front of them the thumb should be at 2oclock and the rest of the hand at 10oclock. You should see a V facing the sky. The reason for this is simple. It leaves only a quarter turn of the glove to get to the pitch on the right or left. Not a half turn, which makes catching the ball more difficult. If the thumb is pointing down the left elbow is up and will make certain pitches more difficult. So we want the V to the sky.
Now that we know how to hold the glove and present a target we need to relax and anticipate what the pitch ball is going to do. Anticipation is key to consistently receiving the ball well and blocking as well. Catchers have to be the thinkers on the field. We don’t want to have left arm fully extended and we also don’t want it too close to our body. Find the middle ground and avoid the extremes. The catcher must have soft hands yet strong forearms. Once the ball hits our glove all motion stops. We don’t want to catch a strike and have the momentum of the pitch take the glove out of the strike zone. We want to make sure a strike remain a strike. Catchers play a huge role in this. Just ask any umpire. The body remains relatively still while only the eyes and glove move. The best way to get better at this is practice.
Here is a soft hands drill- with tennis balls
Firmly underhand toss tennis balls to the catcher from 10-12 feet away. He will work on receiving these pitches with out a glove on. Work balls in and out up and down. Also check and make sure the “V” is still to the sky. Balls should not consistently pop out of his hand after some practice.
To become a quality receiver it takes practice, and a lot of it. Catch bullpens to practice or utilize a pitching machine. The more pitches you catch the better you will become.
Until Next Time,