Youth Baseball Catcher Drills
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The position of catcher is both physically and mentally demanding for an adult. For a young player, catching can be an overwhelming task, unless the player develops fundamental skills of the position. From learning to block a ball in the dirt, to getting out of the squat and firing a ball to second base, the mechanics of being a catcher must be taught early through repetition and drills during practice.
Blocking Without a Ball
One of the basic fundamentals that must first be learned when playing catcher is how to block a ball. Before attempting to block a ball, however, a player must learn proper form. Have the young catcher squat behind the plate in full gear, with a coach saying when to drop or rise in any particular direction to stop a ball.
This drill is meant to be done after a young catcher learns proper blocking technique without using a ball. Have the catcher squat behind the plate in full gear, set one cone on each side of the catcher, equaling the width of both batter's boxes, and have a coach on one knee 20 to 30 feet in front of him with a bucket of balls. The coach should throw balls in random locations between the cones, some in the dirt and some in the air. Throw 20 balls and count how many "goals" the catcher allows.
The Throw Home
In most youth leagues, it is illegal for a catcher to block the plate before he has the ball. The catcher must know where he should be standing, depending on where the ball is coming from. Using a full field of players, practice taking balls from all directions of the field, including the outfield, and then tagging a would-be runner at the plate. The catcher should always leave his mask on for safety and maintain a low center of gravity for leverage.
Throwing to Second
This drill requires a second baseman or shortstop to cover second, a pitcher to throw balls home and a catcher in full gear behind the plate. The pitcher will throw balls to the catcher out of the stretch, and the catcher will then come up and throw the ball to second base in an attempt to get a mock runner out. Stress getting rid of the ball quickly over taking an extra step to put more velocity on the ball. Use a stopwatch to measure the time between when the pitch hits the catcher's mitt to when the fielder at second base catches the throw.
Flinch and Blink
This drill requires a catcher in full gear behind home plate, a coach in the batter's box with a bat and another coach on one knee 15 to 25 feet in front of the catcher. The purpose of this drill is to train the young catcher to not blink or flinch when a ball is coming at his face. To start, have the coach lob balls underhanded at the catcher's mask while the catcher keeps his hands behind his back. Then have the catcher bring his mitt forward, while having the pitcher throw balls at normal speed, aiming for the catcher's mask. Have the coach in the batter's box swing and miss at every pitch.
Nicholas Bragg, a lifelong athlete and certified personal trainer, attended four separate colleges from Maryland to California, finishing in 2004. Named to the CEO's club as an elite performer at Intuit in 2009, he changed careers in 2010 and now contributes writing to Mahalo and SportswithM.