As a former professional player, I have found that some of the things that I took for granted at the end of my career are very valuable for many of young players that I deal with day in and day out. As we always say at Catch and Throw, “Old age and treachery will beat youth and exuberance any day”. How a young athlete prepares for the game will have a significant outcome on how he performs during the game.
Everyone knows that preparation is a large part of the game, but I tend to look at it as a way to set one’s self up for success or for failure. It pains me when I hear from a player that they were not ready or loose for the first inning of a game. Part of the maturation process of a catcher is knowing what one has to do each day to be the most prepared athlete on the field. What does that mean?
The physical and mental rigors of catching can take a toll on the catcher. Being prepared for the game TODAY should be the most important thing. The responsibilities that a catcher has are endless. Over the course of a Major League Baseball Season, a starting catcher will have to be ready to receive in between 18,000 and 20,000 pitches. That doesn’t include any in the bullpen or in between innings. The preparation starts right now!
When teaching catchers, it is important to look at each individual and see his strengths and weaknesses. At Catch & Throw, we look at each catcher and take a One Size Fits One attitude instead of a One Size Fits All stance. Everyone is different and has different levels of skill and physical restraints.
Ball!!! How many times has that four letter word frustrated pitchers, managers, and fans that thought the pitch was a strike? We all understand that the umpire’s calls are part of the game, but that doesn’t soften the blow of a ball thrown right down the middle on a 3-2 count and called for a ball. I am going to try to give you a different read on how to accept calls but why happy umpires are important, and how you can learn, learn about, and from each umpire.
The hardest working player on the field usually is the catcher, but there is one variation that makes it even harder. Left Handed hitting Right Handed throwing catchers have a very large problem with shoulder injuries because the muscles that are used to decelerate the arm while throwing and hitting are the same. On a typical catcher that throws right handed and hits right handed, opposite shoulders are having to slow either the arm or the bat down.
How a hitter stands in the box often dictates the kind of hitter he is and where he likes the ball.
Remember, these are just general guidelines. This is not going to perfectly blanket all hitters, but the hitters who fall into these categories will usually follow these generalizations.
Although every pitch is very important, learning what counts are the most important will not only make you a smart catcher, but it will help keep pitchers in the ballgame longer and translate into more wins for the team.
Stop back soon for more articles on all things catching!
When choosing the right catchers mitt for a catcher, you must take the glove size and weight into account. While I worked for the National Pitching Association, we weighed gloves for over two years. Every person who came through the doors of the NPA Performance Center in San Diego emptied out their bag and we weighed gloves of all shapes and sizes. Depending on the size, model, quality of leather, wear and tear, and substances put onto the glove made every glove different. During this study, I weighed over 1,500 gloves of which 140 were Catchers mitts. The average weight for a catcher’s mitt youth and adult combined was close to 26 ounces.
Catchers are sometimes guilty of giving a target that doesn’t help the pitcher out in anyway. Pitchers trust us to call pitches, know hitters, give locations, and if we don’t come through with that trust, we are not helping that pitcher, but hurting him. I can think of one instance when I gave a sign for a fastball middle inside to a right handed hitter. I gave the target and the pitcher pitched. The ball never reached my mitt and was a three run home run. I, like many other catchers, held the spot with my glove for a second after the ball was hit. The problem was when I saw my glove and realized where the pitch was; I saw that the pitcher hit the exact spot that I laid out for him. Perfect pitch if you were to look at the target and pitch location. Getting lazy with a target or giving the wrong target is just a bad as calling a wrong pitch.