Become Better at the Toughest Position on the Field
Baseball catcher drills are a very important part of a youth baseball coach’s practice. Catching, in my opinion, is the most important defensive position on a youth baseball team. It is the one player that can lose youth baseball games but can also win the with solid defense. The catcher needs to be tough, smart and athletic all at the same time. Unless you are Buster Posey or Pudge Rodriguez, catchers don’t necessarily have to be great hitters to play a lot.
The “tough” mentality must come into play because he cannot let any ball get by him. He is the backstop. This toughness and ability allow the pitcher to trust his catcher will block any pitch he throws (pitcher doesn’t have to worry about wild pitches and passed balls).
The baseball catcher also needs to have a very high “baseball IQ.” He is the only defensive player that faces the rest of the team. His teammates look for him to captain the team by calling out plays and where to throw the ball. The catcher needs to be vocal with his teammates. In summary, the catcher is the ROCK on the team and everyone needs to know it!
With all of these responsibilities, this player needs to work hard on catcher drills. Baseball catching drills can be a lot of hard work, but they can also be fun! Where else can you get dirty and use your body to block and hit things? It is a great position to play!
BASIC & ADVANCED CATCHER DRILLS
Playing the catcher position in baseball is a unique position and requires many different skills in order to be successful. There’s a lot more to it than to catch and throw, which is why it’s important for coaches to work with their catchers using a variety of different drills. Each individual drill is meant to isolate a certain skill and when you put all the skills together, will help your player become better when they put them to use at game speed.
For the purpose of this article, we have put together a list of individual drills that coaches can have their catchers work on. The idea is to keep each individual drill simple and easy to perform. By mastering as many of these skills as possible, the chances of your catchers performance getting better on game day will be greatly improved.
Catcher Soft Hands Drill
This drill can be done either indoors or outdoors and you can use a tennis ball or a regular baseball. The idea is to have someone lob a ball to your catcher who catches it by letting the ball come to them rather than reaching for it. They should also be flexible and practice slightly moving or framing the ball when they catch it.
Bare Hand Receiving Catching Drill
This is very similar to the soft hand drill in that the goal is to practice receiving the ball with soft hands and flexibility. However, always catch the ball with bare hands rather than using a glove.
Catch Balls off a Wall Drill
The coach or another player will stand behind the catcher and throw balls off a wall. The catcher will not know which direction the ball will go and they will need to judge the bounce and make sure they stay in front of it and make the catch.
Two Ball Catcher Drill
This is another drill that teaches a catcher to have soft hands. Your catcher will hold one ball in the lower part of their hand while receiving a second ball that they catch primarily with their fingers in the same hand.
Catch and Frame a Bounced Ball Catching Drill
The catcher will practice receiving a ball bounced to them and work on framing the pitch. This improves their receiving skills and also reinforces soft hands and flexibility.
Catch and Throw Drills
The idea here is to teach your catchers how to go from receiving the ball to getting themselves in the proper throwing position. The drill can begin with receiving a throw from 15 feet with the catcher practicing receiving the ball and then making the transfer to the throwing position. Work on keeping the glove and ball high at all times.
Then move the drill out to about 30 feet and work on making the transfer to the throwing position and also work on your throw to second footwork. When you begin working on your throw to second base footwork, start by standing to isolate your footwork. Then add the throw. Then add the crouch. The person receiving the throw should stand about 3/4 of the distance to second base to receive the throws. This reason for this is to emphasize making sharp, line drive throws. It’s better to make a one hop throw to second than to make a popup like throw..
Next work on the hop and catch (catch after hop). Transfer ball to the throwing position and then add in throwing the ball. If available, you can use a pitching machine to deliver consistent reps and give better control for the drill.
Another catch and throw drill you can do is to practice throws from catcher to third base. Focus on the footwork they need to throw to third. When you begin working on your throw to third base, start by standing to isolate your footwork. The person receiving the throw should stand about 3/4 of the distance to third base to receive throws. This reason for this is to emphasize making sharp, line drive throws.
Catcher Bunt Drill
For the bunt drill, drop the ball in different positions so the catcher will need to first practice finding the ball. They should then move quickly to the ball and approach it so they pick it up in the throwing position. Then, shuffle feet and throw. Work on making throws to different bases so they can get the lead runner when runners are on base.
Make Throws When Ball on the Ground
For catchers, there are many times where you’ll need to pick up a ball that has either caromed off of your chest protector or hit the ground after you blocked it. A catcher needs to recover quickly and get into throwing position. For this drill, bounce balls off the chest protector or have the catcher block balls in the dirt. Practice having your catcher quickly pick up the ball and try to get into throwing position as quickly as possible.
Wild Pitch with Runner on Third Catcher Drill
In this scenario, there is a runner on third base and your pitcher makes a wild pitch and the ball gets behind you. The first thing the catcher should do is to locate the ball behind them as quickly as possible. They should then work on approaching the ball on their throwing arm side which will allow them to get rid of the ball quicker. The can also work on sliding towards the ball on a knee if they prefer. Then grab ball and throw from one or both knees to the pitcher covering home.
Force Play at Home Plate Catcher Drill
There are times when the bases are loaded with less than two outs and the play is to force the runner at home to stop a run from scoring. Although this seems to be an easy play for the catcher, it is worth practicing if you want to turn the double play. For this drill, the catcher should receive the ball like a first baseman, providing a good target with one foot on the plate and reaching for the ball. The can also add a crouch to get ready for the next move. Once they receive the ball, they can add a shuffle to the left of the baseline and throw to first to try and get the batter out. Shuffling to the left will give them a better angle for the throw.
Tag Play at Home Catcher Drill
This is a play that can happen somewhat regularly but is probably not practiced enough. A catcher needs to be in a good position to be successful making the play. Have them work on keeping their left foot in front of the plate. Make sure that after receiving the ball they secure it with both hands for the tag so that it doesn’t get jarred loose. It can also be helpful for them to collapse on their left knee for a more secure tagging position.
Outfield Throws to Catcher Drill
This is a simple drill that most coaches don’t have their catchers work on. Throws to the plate from the outfield will normally reach the catcher on one hop. Practice making these throws to your catcher with the emphasis on them blocking the ball no matter what. Make sure they don’t let the ball get past them.
Catcher Pop Ups Drill
It’s not an easy play for a catcher to go from the crouched position to chasing down a pop up. However, with practice they can get better at it. The first thing is to make sure they locate the ball and get rid of their mask. If the ball is close to a fence, try to find the fence so you know how much room you have. It can help to slide and catch if you are going towards a dangerous area like a fence or dugout. Practice making them go in multiple directions to make the catch.
As mentioned earlier, each of these drills are fairly simple in nature but it’s important to remember that each individual drill will isolate a specific skill that a catcher needs. As you get better at mastering each of these individual drills, you will progress to a point where you take all of these skills to game day and tie them all together at game speed.
BASIC & ADVANCED CATCHER DRILLS & SKILLS
Below are some baseball catching drills that are important at ALL levels of baseball. Even the youngest of catchers need to start hearing about blocking, setting up and their stances. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t expect really young players to be great at these skills, but they need to start hearing the terminology at that age.
IN-DEPTH CATCHING DRILLS & SKILLS
The skills & drills below are for the more skilled and older baseball catchers. As a baseball catcher gets older, he must start mastering the basic skills from above and start learning the skills below. Click on each of these to see some drills to improve.
- Relays, Cutoffs & Plays At Home
- Coaches Signs and Signals to Catcher
- Calling Pitches In a Game
- Covering Bases
- Getting Along With The Umpire
BASEBALL CATCHER WORKOUTS
Catching is the most demanding position in baseball. A quick way to improve as a catcher is to improve your strength conditioning and stamina. We have a great catchers workout you can do at home.
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