Catchers are many times referred to as a “receiver”, In fact, that is what they do. They catch the ball thrown by their pitchers while getting themselves in the best position for whatever comes next. They may need to block a pitch, make a throw or simply return the ball to the pitcher. But there are skills in becoming a good receiver of the baseball and things that every catcher should know and practice. We’ll cover those in this article.
Be “Quiet” When Receiving the Ball
Once the catcher is in their stance and has positioned themselves with the proper setup, it’s time to catch the pitch. Using their eyes to track the pitch and their glove to catch it, the rest of the body should stay relatively quiet. Remain in your position and catch the ball, making it appear that it does not require a lot of effort.
Watch the pitch into the glove and catch it with soft hands but with a firm wrist and arm. Move your glove only as much as needed in order the receive the ball properly. Make sure that you protect your throwing hand from foul tips by tucking it behind your right leg in a relaxed stance or behind your glove in the ready stance.
Hold the Ball
Once you’ve received the pitch and it is within the strike zone, most good catchers will hold the ball right where they caught it for a second or so. You want to provide the umpire with a good look at the pitch so you make sure you get the strike call. Do not move your glove when doing this, especially not up, down or sideways.
Remember to hold the ball where you catch it for low pitches or breaking balls that are moving down. By continuing to move your glove in a downward direction, you will give the impression that the pitch is actually low and could be called a ball. Instead, hold it right where you caught it and you’ll have a better chance of getting the call. Major League catchers are very good at this so watch a few games for additional tips.
Move Your Glove Toward the Ball
As you are tracking the pitch while it’s on its way, it is sometimes a good idea to reach forward a bit to catch the ball. Obviously, you don’t want to interfere with the bat of the hitter, but reaching forward or toward the ball location, just a bit will allow you to stop your momentum just enough to make it easier to hold the pitch where it’s caught. This can be helpful for a player who has trouble holding the ball in place. It is recommended that young catchers practice this method to see if it works for them before trying it in a game.
Receiving Different Pitches
Not every pitch will be right at the glove, so catchers will need to know how to adjust to a variety of different pitches. Some pitches will be high or up in the zone. In these cases, you won’t want to move your glove towards the ball as we discussed earlier. Catching it too early will make it clear it is not in the strike zone. Normally, you will want to catch the ball farther back in your body giving it a chance to drop more into the strike zone. Breaking balls or off-speed pitches are a good example of pitches that could move into the strike zone late.
On the other hand, low pitches would benefit more from moving your glove toward the baseball. This will give you the opportunity to catch and hold the ball for the umpire to see before it has a chance to drop out of the zone. As previously mentioned, be careful not to move too far forward so as to interfere with the batter.
So don’t take for granted that as a catcher, your number one task is to catch the ball. We have discussed numerous tips in this article including keeping you body quiet, holding the ball, moving towards certain pitches and handling different pitch types.
These are all important factors to consider when receiving the baseball.