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.