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!