Catching – The Leadership Position
It is impossible to have a great winning team without a very good catcher!
It is the most difficult position to fill on any youth team. Baseball Catching is to pitching like a jockey is to a horse. A trained catcher can serve as an on-field/in-game pitching coach. The catcher needs to be highly skilled at his position and an effective leader.
Why are so many catchers so poor at their position?
To begin with, many within the game of baseball treat catchers as inanimate pocket nets and not integral leaders in the process of pitching!
Do you ever wonder why some baseball players choose to catch? We believe that a very few players naturally possess the inherent unique talent and skill to play the catcher position. Catchers improve (to a point) in spite of a serious lack of training. The majority fail because they are ignored……. Who would want to play the most dangerous position on the field with littler more than attention than, “your turn to put the gear on!”
Catching is the perhaps the most misunderstood and the least trained position in the game.
Fear, fatigue and confusion are present due to a lack of instruction. Two parties are responsible; the coach AND the player. Yes it is the coach’s job to teach, but many developmental recreational coaches do not have the ability or the time. Ironically the baseball players that move on to high school are expected to already know the skill.
Young baseball players show up, put on the gear, and struggle. Rarely do they seek training. The catching position is compromised of adults pleading with several players on the team to only catch a few innings to help the team. Subsequently they are more often hurt, play poorly, and are constantly criticized. Geeeee! who would want that opportunity? Young baseball catchers never truly understand how to perform; they see it as a fill in job. In a sense, players default to catching.
Ball players who want to catch (especially youths) do not realize the scope of the responsibility and the commitment that is required. However, as catchers learn more, they realize how vital they are to the team and they become more motivated. Players and parents have more fun, take pride in their work, and learn to become successful leaders.
Positive Training for Improvement
Catching is much more than blocking and throwing to 2nd!
Eliminating the fear of becoming injured is a main focus of our basic baseball catching instruction. Learning how to catch and block the ball is certainly a priority. However, if a child is afraid, the learning process is compromised. Therefore we use softer baseballs so no danger or risk is present. As a result a youth catcher learns the necessary skills in less time without the fear of making a mistake and becoming injured.
Once a baseball player masters how to receive a strike (catch the ball) and block a ball in the dirt we focus on the most difficult part of catching — when to do it. Catchers have less than a ½ of a second to make that decision. The decision to drop and block, or stay quiet and hold the strike where it was thrown must be made in less than the first 50% of the distance to home plate. This is the reason that some catchers look so good in practice as they are told that a ball will be throw in the dirt and perform so bad in games when the flight of the ball is totally unpredictable. We believe that knowing when to block and when to receive is the most important catching skill. Therefore we train catchers in a unique manner to improve ball flight recognition.
Sports vision is the newest form of instruction in baseball. We’re not talking 20/20. Sports vision involves eye muscles as well as eye sight. Enhancing a catcher’s sports vision allows the eye muscles to track a moving object. Catchers do this ten times more than any other player. If they have poor sports vision they cannot proficiently perform the skill of catching. This is also the reason that catchers are most often great hitters. They track the ball better and more often. We have professional resources that diagnose, teach, and improve sports vision.
“Be quick, but don’t hurry!” John Wooden
Pressuring catchers early in their training to become fast and quick is the wrong approach. Speed can only come after skills are done correctly. An obsession to require a catcher to throw the ball quicker to second base without first learning how to catch the ball, and throw it accurately, is misguided. A quick throw to right center field doesn’t help.
Catchers throw more balls in one game than most pitchers- way more!
Training, protecting, and conditioning a baseball catcher’s arm is extremely important. Basic throwing mechanics are a must. A catcher throws twice as far to second base than the pitcher does to home; but must do that quicker with the same strike zone.
Catchers loose more game in the 6th & 7th innings than any other position
Failing to hold a strike in the strike zone that results in more walks, failing to block balls, dropping balls when tagging runners at home, inability to field bunts, and make good throws are most often the result of fatigue. Out of shape and tired catchers loose games.
We cover all fundamental skills plus leadership, command presence, communicating with and understanding pitchers. Players cannot become great catchers without understanding competitive pitching and pitchers.
Our Academy Mission to train all aspects of baseball athletic skill: fundamentals, handling pressure, learning strategy and tactics, athleticism, nutrition and the athletic values of leadership are vital in training baseball catchers. Please join us and see what is possible!