How the Catcher Should Handle Pop Ups
As a catcher, do you want to embarrass yourself? There’s a sure fire way. It takes place on a pop up. It happens when the catcher takes off and runs after the ball too quick. The first thing a catcher needs to do on a pop up is turn around, get his back to the pitcher, get his mask off but don’t throw it. Hold onto it. We don’t know where this ball’s going to end up. Hold onto it until we’re sure.
So we’ve gotten our back to the pitcher. We’re here. Our back is to the pitcher. From this position we need to find the baseball. Remember, a baseball’s always going to come back towards the field of play. It’s not going to stay back there unless there’s a real strong wind. The baseball’s always going to want to come back towards the field. That’s why we want to get our back turned so it can come back to us. So we’ve turned, we got our back to the pitcher. We want to keep our chin at a 45 degree angle. This is where we want to keep the ball. If we keep the ball at this angle, we have a chance to work into it.
Remember, the ball’s going to come back to us. So we’ve taken our mask off, we’re holding it here. We find the ball and we work our way into it slowly, keeping our legs flexed, moving slowly. We can always accelerate late, but if you take off sprinting after the ball, we don’t do reverse. It’s a sure fire way for a catcher to end up on his back. Trust me I’ve done it. It’ really embarrassing laying on the ground, have the ball land next to you. Everybody’s giggling. The problem is the next guy doubles and you feel really bad about it. So take your time.
Take your time getting after the ball. Find it. We found the ball. We’re working our way underneath it. Toss the mask to the side, clear away from where anyplace you’re going to be. Work your way into it. Two hands, up here, catch the ball. We want to make sure every time there’s a pop up, they know that we’re going to cover it. So get your back turned toward the pitcher. Keep that ball at a 45 degree angle and work into it slowly. You have to time. You have more time than you can think. You can always accelerate late. So the next time you’re behind the dish, give yourself a chance. Find the ball first before you take off running and catch that pop up.