The catcher’s responsibilities go way beyond just receiving pitches. The catcher is the last line of defense against runners attempting to cross home plate and they will do some “directing of traffic” in high pressure situations. The catcher in a lot of ways is the “anchor” of the infield. Let’s take a look at some Little League Coaching Tips for Situational Responsibilities of the Catcher.

#1 Base Empty

The catcher should run up the line to back up throws coming from infielders to first base.

#2 Runner on First

With two outs and a runner on first base, the catcher will throw to first base for the final out. With less than two outs, the catcher can throw down to second base to start a double play or simply throw down to first base for an out. The catcher could also attempt a pick off to retire the base runner at first. *Any pick off attempt made by the catcher is a calculated risk.

#3 Runners on First & Second

With two outs and runners on first and second base, the catcher can throw to first or third for the final out depending on which play is easier (will depend on where the catcher picks the ball up). In this situation, the catcher normally will not throw down to second for the final out because it would be a bit more difficult play to execute. The catcher could gamble with a pick off attempt at first base in this situation because an out would end the inning.With less than two outs, the catcher has a number of options that will depend on the play’s difficulty which will depend on where they pick the ball up. The catcher can throw down to third base to start a double or triple play! The catcher can also either throw down to second base to start a double play or throw over to first base for an out. The catcher will want to stay away from any type of pick off attempt at first base in this situation because the runner on second base could advance to third base regardless if the pick off is successful or not. It’s a much riskier play with less than two outs.

#4 Runners on First & Third

With two outs and runners on first and third base, the catcher will simply want to throw the ball to first base for the final out. With two outs, the catcher could consider “gambling” with a pick off attempt at either base because it would end the inning.With one out, the catcher can throw down to second base to start a double play. With no outs, the catcher should look back the runner on third base and then throw to first for an out. With less than two outs, the catcher could also fake a throw to first before throwing to first base. If the fake throw draws the runner off third base then the catcher could attempt to pick the runner off or start a run down. This would be a risky and complicated play. If the runner on third is the game winning run then the catcher may have to consider just “eating” the ball to prevent that run from scoring. The catcher should also avoid any type of pickoff play at first base with less than two outs. The catcher could still consider a pick off attempt at third base because an out would eliminate a scoring threat.

#5 Runners on Second & Third

With two outs and runners on second and third base, the catcher will want to simply throw to first base for the final out. The catcher can also attempt a pick off at third base but normally will not attempt to pick off the runner at second base (too risky). With less than two outs, the catcher should look back the runner at third base before throwing to first base for an out. The catcher could also fake a throw to first base before throwing to first base for an out. If the fake throw draws the runner off third base then the catcher could choose to pick the runner off third base or start a run down. For the most part, the catcher will ignore the runner on second base. If the runner on third is the game winning run then the catcher may have to consider just “eating” the ball to prevent that run from scoring. With less than two outs, the catcher could consider a pick off attempt at third but should not attempt a pick off attempt at second base ( again; too risky).

#6 Runner on Second

With two outs and a runner on second base, the catcher should simply throw to first base for the final out. Normally, the catcher will not attempt a pick off at second base because it is just too high risk. With less than two outs, the catcher should look back the runner at second base before throwing to first for an out. A fake throw to draw the runner off second base is not recommended. This is too risky and too complicated a play.

How to Give Signs w/ a Runner at 2nd

 

#7 Runner on Third

With two outs and a runner on third base, the catcher should simply throw to first base for the final out. The catcher could also consider a pick off attempt at third base to end the inning. With less then two outs, the catcher should look back the runner at third base before throwing to first base for an out. The catcher could also consider a fake throw to first base before throwing down to first base for the out. If the fake throw draws the runner off of third base then then catcher can attempt a pick off or start a run down. If the runner on third is the game winning run then the catcher may have to consider just “eating” the ball to prevent that run from scoring.

#8 Bases Loaded

With two outs and bases loaded, the catcher can throw to first or third for the final out depending on which play is easier (will depend on where the catcher picks the ball up). The catcher can also just step on home plate if the ball is scooped up in close enough proximity. Any type of pick off play with bases loaded is going to be risky. However, the catcher could consider “gambling” with a pick off attempt at either first or third base because it would end the inning. With less than two outs, the catcher should attempt to cover the plate unless the ball is close enough where they have no choice but to field it. If the catcher does come out too far to make a play then they will all but concede the run at the plate. In this situation, the catcher could throw down to third or first base depending on which play is easier. If the runner on third is the game winning run the catcher will have to turn all attention to making the proper play to prevent that run from scoring- step on home to make the out or cover the plate and wait for a throw. With less than tow outs, the catcher should only gamble with a pick off at third base because it would eliminate a scoring threat.

#9 Pop Ups

The catcher will need to communicate with other fielders ( pitcher, first baseman and third baseman) concerning pop ups that are in the zone of multiple players.

#10 Hits to the Outfield and Plays at the Plate from the Outfield

The catcher should be observing for proper positioning of defensive players after a ball is hit to the outfield. The catcher can help line up cut offs and can also remind other fielders of defensive assignments. When a throw is coming home, the catcher should be instructing the cut off ( first or third baseman) to either cut the throw or let it come uninterrupted to the plate.

Conclusion

The catcher will have quite a few responsibilities in addition to general catching duties. When teaching situational responsibilities at the Little League level, it is important to start with a foundation of basics and then build on those basic concepts.

LEARN MORE

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Baseball Signs and Signals

Learning the Catcher’s Stance

Dropped Third Strike

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