A good catcher is, shall we say, a dime a dozen, but a Great Catcher is worth his weight in Gold. A Great Catcher has an uncanny ability to withstand pain and play through it, he’s expected to provide power with his bat, have a rocket launcher for a throwing arm and must be one of, if not the Smartest player on the field.
Obviously the learning curve for a catcher is Never Ending as there are always skills to refine, perfection is unattainable but near perfection is, there are always new skills to learn, otherwise catchers would get a break at Spring Training instead of being one of the first players required to attend and a pitching staff to baby sit.
As the saying goes “You have to eat an elephant one bite at a time” so we’ll exam one drill at a time which will increase your skills and get you on the road from being a good catcher, to a Great Catcher.
This particular drill is called Bare Handed Drill and requires the use of a blue racquet ball and racquetball racket. The intent of this drill is to increase the catcher’s ability to catch (receive) a pitch bare handed, which if he can catch a ball bare handed he’ll feel like he’s wearing a magnet when wearing his mitt, instead of an overstuffed pillow.
The catcher will assume his catching position, it’s optional whether he wears his equipment or not for this drill, but I strongly suggest he wear everything except his mitt. The more he becomes accustomed to the “Tools of Ignorance” the better he’ll perform in them.
The coach positions himself about 30′ away or half way between home plate and the pitchers mound. He uses the racquet to hit line drives, which simulates pitches, to the catcher.
The benefit of hitting the ball with the racquet instead of throwing the ball, is the ball comes off the racquet quicker, which develops quick hands, and the coach can easily vary the speed of the ball without throwing his arm out, which allows for a longer practice session.
The catcher should be encouraged to use two hands to catch the ball, but insure he’s holding his hands properly, one behind the other as he would hold his throwing hand behind his mitt if he were wearing one. He can also use batting gloves if he wishes, as the gloves do not deter from the basic principles of the drill.
One last suggestion, as coaches are notorious for launching high fly balls when first hitting a racquet ball, performing the drill inside may be advisable.