To the untrained eye, the position of catcher on a ball field seems minute compared to, say, the pitcher. After all, his main job is simply to catch the pitches thrown his way. The reality is, however, that the catcher is one of the most important players on the team. He has the ability to make a bad pitcher look good, but he can also make a good pitcher look bad.
Whether little league or professional, every catcher is responsible for several tasks when he takes the field. He has to receive pitches thrown to him, block throws in the dirt, throw out base runners, and keep other players focused during each play. To do all of this effectively, a catcher must develop a receiving stance, that although uncomfortable, enables him to move quickly to execute his many tasks.
Below are several beginning baseball catcher drills and catcher fundamentals designed to improve your receiving, blocking, and throwing skills at the plate.
For best results, wear your catcher’s gear as you practice these drills.
Catcher Receiving Drills
- Barehanded Tennis Ball Catch – Get a partner and a few tennis balls. Have your partner toss the tennis balls to you one at a time so you can practice catching them with soft hands. No glove required for this drill.
- Short Distance Catch – Stand 10-12 feet away from your partner with your glove on and catch throws.
Baseball Catcher Blocking Drills
- Three-ball Drill – Put three balls in front of the catcher. Show how to move in order to successfully block each one. In one swift motion, the catcher should fall on his knees, lower his glove between his knees, place his bare hand behind the glove, and tuck his chin to his chest.
- Tennis Ball Chest Bounce – Beginning catchers tend to turn away as a throw comes in. This drill teaches you to be aggressive with incoming throws. Using tennis balls, have your coach or partner bounce the balls off your chest. The key is to keep your eyes on the ball all the way to your chest. Keeping your eyes focused and your head straight allows the face mask to protect your neck as it’s supposed to instead of exposing your neck when you turn your head away.
Again, you should quickly drop to your knees, lower your glove to the dirt between them, and tuck your chin to your chest. This creates a wall that keeps the ball in front of you. As you work through this drill, you’ll realize the chest plate and face mask is sufficient protection. Graduate to using baseballs for this drill once you have it down pat.
Baseball Catcher Throwing Drills
- Throwing Stance to Second Base – A catcher’s feet should point in the direction he is throwing. To practice the all-important throw to second base, place a “T” on the ground in front of the plate (use tape or draw it in the dirt). The throwing foot should land first on the bottom of the “T,” then the glove foot. Focus on your balance and stance as you work through this drill.
The position of catcher is more important than most people think. The catcher drills above should help you hone your skills and improve your game at the plate. Starting with these catcher fundamentals can only help you tweak and improve you game as you progress.