Baseball Tips – Young Catchers Stick With It!

Life as a Little League or Pony League catcher can be tough. You can read baseball tips on this, baseball tips on that, do drill for this and train for that. Listen to this person, listen to that person. Try this and try that.

But still, you find yourself not throwing many people out in games. It seems like there are always balls getting by you and going back to the backstop. You may have gotten whacked way more times than you’d like by wild pitches. Long games and hot games. Is catching really worth it?

Well, fear not young catchers! Here are a few baseball tips and advice for you on why you should hang in there if you really like catching.

Right now at your age in Little League or Pony League there are things going on that you really have no control over. This makes catching seem impossible at times. It can be discouraging to young catchers because at this age and in these leagues success doesn’t come often. You’re not throwing a lot of people out, balls are flying everywhere (and hitting you) and you many times feel like you’re the catcher only because no one else is stupid enough to do it. Well, those things may be true right now, but here are some things to consider:

  • In Little League and Pony League the bases are pretty short. When someone takes off, you’re relying on a good pitch from the pitcher, a perfect throw from you and a perfect catch and tag from the second baseman or shortstop. These things don’t happen routinely in Little League and are just getting better in Pony League.
  • Kids are bigger, stronger and faster these days. Look at the Little League World Series this year. They moved the fence back a good distance because the home runs keep increasing and there are just too many. (yes, those high tech bats played a role too!) My point is, the bases are short and there are a lot of fast runners. This is not a good combination for throwing runners out.
  • Many young pitchers at these ages throw a lot of balls and wild pitches. You need good pitches to have any chance at all of throwing someone out. Wild pitches and runners advancing easily can be discouraging You can catch, but you can’t pitch and catch. So you are at the mercy of the pitcher too.
  • Young pitchers don’t always know how to hold runners well or perform good pick-off moves to keep runners honest. Watch a Pony League game sometime. Smart runners will be more than half way down to second base by the time the catcher gets the ball. There’s nothing you can do here. Just do your best.

So if you are a young catcher and get a little bit discouraged from time to time, remember these baseball tips and keep your head up.

You can’t control the pitched ball. It’s going to go where it’s going to go. What you need to do is become very, very good at blocking the ball. So what if you don’t pop up and throw the runner out. That time will come. Just focus on becoming a technically good blocking catcher. This will always make you stand out from other catchers and this becomes even more true as you get older.

Throwing runners out? If it happens, great! But, what you want to do is develop fast, correct footwork instead of worrying too much about how many people you throw out. Learn correct footwork and practice it over and over and develop a technically correct delivery to second base. Wait and see what happens once the bases become 90 feet apart. You’ll be amazed.

Work on other things like:

  • Handling bunts, or choppers in front of the plate
  • Footwork to block home plate on throws from the outfield. Again, the Little League World Series had great plays at home this year.
  • Handling passed balls

Also, and very important, work on that thing sitting on top of your shoulders! Be confident, know that you are a good catcher and believe in yourself and your ability.

When those bases become 90 feet apart, the whole game changes for catchers. If you really worked on being technically good, fast feet and good delivery, you’ll throw a lot of people out because now your pitchers and fielders are also much better.

Block everything. People will notice you for this. This will separate you from other catchers. This is true right into High School. Lazy catchers who won’t block balls will sit at that point, regardless of their arm strength.

Consider these baseball tips that you’ve just read young catchers. Stick with it. It will pay off and catching will become a lot more fun once the bases are 90 feet. Just be ready and prepared with your skills when this time comes. And when it does, those same kids that might have thought you were stupid for catching years ago will look to you for the big play, the bases loaded block of a wild pitch, or the big throw that turns the game around. This is when you’ll realize that it was all worth it…being a catcher. The BEST position to play!

Coaching Baseball – 20 Points For Coaching Baseball Catchers

There are many skills and much knowledge that baseball catchers must have to be successful. A good baseball catcher is the foundation of a championship baseball team. If you have a skilled catcher that can field, throw and talk the game, you are well on your way to building a strong team. Here are 20 coaching points we teach our catchers.

We will always have at least 4 catchers in our program each year. Two Junior Varsity catchers and 2 varsity catchers make up our catching staff each year. Here are 12 basic things that we teach our catchers to know or do. There are others things but here are the basic 12 we start with.

1. Wear your chest protector loosely. Do not strap it on too tightly. If the chest protector is too tight to the chest, the ball will bounce farther away from the body on a block. A loose fitting chest protector deadens the energy of the ball on impact allowing the ball to fall closer to the plate.

2. With no runners on base, keep the bare had behind your back. With runners on base, depending on the level of play, the catcher may position the bare hand behind the mitt.

3. The correct blocking position requires that you drop immediately to you knees. Learn to drop to block. Kick your feet back from under your body and get the knees on the ground as soon as possible.

4. The correct blocking position has the mitt in a flattened out or vertical position to block the hole under the crotch. The mitt must be flat and vertical to prevent a ball from ramping or deflecting upward off of the mitt.

5. The correct blocking position has the chin tucked, the upper body slightly leaned forward, and the elbows slightly out from the body.

6. The correct blocking position has the bare hand behind the mitt.

7. If you see that pitch is going to be in the dirt assume the blocking body position immediately. Learn to react quickly. Do consider catching it, you job is simply to keep the ball in front.

8. If time allows use a circling or rounding technique to get around the ball and direct it back to the plate. This is possible with slow pitches but is impossible to do with high velocity pitchers. Keeping the shoulders square is the only alternative when your pitcher is throwing the heat.

Know where the breaking ball in the dirt will bounce and position yourself a shade in that direction when you drop to block.

9. Know how to hide signs when you give them. Keep the legs as close as possible. Keep the sign hand as deep as possible and high enough that the fingers are in the crotch and not visible below. Put your left forearm your left thigh. Turn your arm so your mitt palm is in the hand-shake position off the front of your knee. This will prevent the 3rd base coach from stealing signs.

10. Establish a good rapport with the umpire. Keep the climate positive around the plate. Should he ask you a question, always respond with a Yes, Sir or No Sir. Do not turn around on any calls and never shake your head in reaction to an umpires call. Making an umpire mad is easiest done by two players on the field, the catcher and the pitcher. Do not dig a hole for you team by showing negative emotion.

11. When a ball needs to be retrieved near home plate. There are two people that can go get it, the catcher or the umpire. If you are lazy and make the umpire pick it up, you are asking for trouble. Hustle and get every ball and hand it to the umpire.

12. Run out to the plate between innings. Walking out sets a bad tone. Make quick crisp throws back to the pitcher during warm-ups.

13. Talk and communicate on every play. Make loud calls that everyone can hear.

14. Move slightly outward during the game to see how far off the plate the umpire will call a pitch a strike. If you move so far that he calls it a ball move slightly back in and know where that magic spot is so that you can use it to get the call on the outer half of the plate.

15. Keep the mitt low. It takes more effort to keep the mitt at a low target spot but you must do it. It is important to keep your pitcher down in the zone.

16. On pop-ups do not remove or discard the mask until you know exactly where the ball is. If you throw the mask too early, you may trip or stumble over it as filed the ball.

17. On a passed ball or wild pitch learn to execute the slide-by and pick up technique with your throwing hand. As you slide by the ball, you pick it up, come up on your left knee and make the throw to the pitcher covering home. The throw must be low and at a tag high spot to insure that the tag can be quickly applied to the runner.

18. When making throws to the bags stay low. Learn to get the ball up as soon as possible. The action requires getting the elbows up and even as if they are on a table. Step directly toward the target. Drive the hips through on the throw. Do not take unnecessary steps, catch the ball and fire it. Get on top of your throw and learn to throw hit a tag high spot at the base every time.

19. When making you throw to 2nd between innings, take it serious, and make a solid throw. Lobbing the ball down there is useless.

20. Learn to discreetly frame. Meaning that you should learn to frame with making it so obvious. Always try to get outside the ball and catch it coming back toward the strike zone. Do not hold the catch spot too long because that will only agitate the umpire.

I know that there are many other things that catchers must know, but this was as many as I could think of at the moment. I hope that this information is beneficial to you and your team.

Good luck till next time, Nick Dixon

Strategies For the Catcher in Baseball

Like others on the defense, the catcher in baseball has an assignment when the ball is hit. Most of the time, it’s guarding the plate. On pop-ups and bunts, however, the play for the put-out is very often all his. No matter what the play, the catcher ought to toss his mask aside as quickly as possible.

To field the bunt, the catcher (presumably right-handed) should always try to go to the left of the ball-make a little circle if he can-so he’ll be in good position to throw when he comes up with it. If the ball is still rolling when the catcher reaches it, he should stab his glove down in front of it to stop the roll, then scoop his glove and bare hand together for the pickup. If the ball has stopped, the catcher can make the pickup with the bare hand.

Catch It With Your Nose
On all pop-ups, the catcher wants to get under the ball as quickly as he can and be waiting as the ball comes down. Since pop-ups to the catcher are caused by a sharp undercut of the ball, the ball spins at terrific speed. The spin will make the ball “move” in one direction or another but usually toward the infield. The catcher must be careful of this drift as the ball comes down and not try to catch it with the arms extended, else he will suddenly find that his arms are two inches short!

To keep the ball from floating out of reach, the catcher should keep his nose right underneath it. “Catch it with your nose” the pros say. (It’s a good idea, too, to blink eyes rapidly as they follow downward flight of the ball. This helps prevent “blind staggers.”) On pop-ups that go in back of the catcher, the spin caused by the undercut of the bat often makes the ball curve as it goes up.

As a general rule, it will curve toward the batter if he undercuts an outside pitch and away from him if the pitch is inside. Thus, if the ball goes up over the catcher’s left shoulder, he should turn to his right to go back and under. That way, he will usually find the ball curving toward him, making the catch much easier. If the ball goes up over the right shoulder, the catcher should turn left to chase it.

Catchers Cover 3rd
There are three times when the catcher in baseball covers 3rd. The first and most important is part of his assignment in the bunt defense with a runner on 1st. The catcher charges into the diamond on the bunt, but if the third baseman fields the ball, he circles to his left and hustles to 3rd. If he doesn’t do that, the base will be open and the runner advancing from 1st to 2nd can continue to 3rd.

The catcher also occasionally finds himself on 3rd during a run-down between home and 3rd. He again goes to 3rd when both the shortstop and second baseman chase a pop fly directly in back of 2nd with runners on base. (Third baseman takes 2nd, pitcher covers home.) It’s a good idea for catchers to back up 1st when the bases are unoccupied and the batter hits a grounder to the infield. This is especially important in a close ball game. The catcher, to make this back-up play, should start running at the crack of the bat and head for a spot at least 20 feet to the foul side of 1st. Thus, if the ball gets by the first base-man, the catcher and ball will arrive at about the same time and the catcher will be able to either hold the runner on 1st or nip him going into 2nd if he tries to advance.

Remember, it is imperative that the catcher in baseball be thoroughly versed in the skills and technique required.