How To Play Catcher
A Little Hurt Makes You Flinch, Look For Another Playing Position
Being A Catcher Is For The Stout And The Tough
How To Play Catcher and to be an effective and productive teammate on a winning team requires skills, ability and capabilities quite different than the other defending position players.
What would you guess would be some of the prime characteristics, needed for how to play this position, which are not an absolute need for playing the other positions?
Maybe we could list a few and then try to back them up with some further meaning of how to play catcher with more given insight for all to understand:
How To Play Catcher
- Quick release of every throw
- Strong back--must be able to bend and go constantly all game
- Strong arm extremely quick release of the throw
- Tough strong hands and fingers
- Quick feet--your accurate throws demand this
- Mental toughness to withstand stinging body hits
- Mentally calculate/remember opposing hitters' weaknesses
- Personality to get inside a hitters head
- Psychology to keep the pitcher upbeat and fired up
- Be tough as nails, tougher than a pine knot
- Develop the ability to work the umpire for favorable calls
The epitome or model leader of the quick release of throws was the legendary Bill Dickey of the New York Yankees. Learning how to play catcher and about baseball as a catcher demands youngsters be taught that every mechanical body movement as a catcher should be aimed at the quick release getting rid of the ball lightening fast.
Quick release of that ball to catch a streaking thief of your base is the prime ingredient of how to play catcher.
Notice by the attributes on how to play catcher he must be tough and a take charge guy with the smarts to understand the entire game and what's happening.
The ten items or characteristics how to play catcher listed above are a must for All-Star catchers be it from Little League baseball through and including the major league baseball players.
Every item listed should be part of every players ability and mode of play however in the case of the how to play catcher these things are what makes him be an effective super catcher.
A catchers' shortfall on any of these how to play catcher items could significantly impact and effect the teams odds of being a winner.
1. Strong Back: There is no other position on the baseball field which requires the player to squat down, stand up, bend over, catch the baseball, and throw the baseball during and after every pitch of the ball. All this is required if one wants to know how to play catcher.
For a player to do this routine, approaching and exceeding 100 times during the course of a regular game, would you not agree this is back wrenching action?
The action just described is not done by the how to play catcher in slow motion, some of the movements at various time during the course of play, require lightening fast , quick as a cat sudden moves, using every body muscle fiber available.
The back of the leg muscles, lower back muscles and running up the back and into the shoulders get a hefty workout during every game for a catcher.
The off season conditioning, early spring practice and before the start of the season, it is important for how to play catcher to concentrate on developing his legs and his back muscles getting them into tip top form.
Anything short of having those legs and his back in top condition will spell trouble and hurt for any how to play catcher wannabe, come about the fifth inning of a hard played baseball game.
2. Strong Arm With An Extremely Quick Release Of The Throw: A catcher with a weak throwing arm is detrimental and bad news for his team. If a catcher does not have the firepower to throw out runners, trying that steal from first to second, then look out.
Through out the league the word spreads and every opposing coach knows what to do, come game time against this team, get a runner on they are sending him down.
What a woeful condition for a team to be in when they have a player pretending how to play catcher unable to get the throw to second on time to stop this wholesale stealing of second base.
Playing baseball from Little League, Pony League, Babe Ruth League, American Legion teams, High School ball, College Level, Single A ball, Double A ball, Triple A ball and even in the Major Leagues of play this knowledge of a weak armed catcher spreads through out the league like the spread of the whooping cough.
One other extremely important how to play catcher action comes into play even though the catcher might have an exceptional strong arm.
Hesitation, or the being slow to grab the ball from his mitt cock that arm make that sliding step in quick time and release the ball like a rifle shot. C
Call off the dogs and forget all else, for the results is the same all opposing runners have a field day stealing second base.
Here it is again a,b,c,d (action required) in slow motion how to play catcher: (a) quick as a flash get the ball from the mitt (b) cock that arm behind the ear (c) make the sliding step with the front foot toward second base (d) release the throw with fingers gripped across the seams or threads.
Your target (second base) will never ever move and the throw should arrive at the second base bag about twelve inches above the bag.
This ball from mitt, cocked arm, sliding step, and the flash of lightening release needs to be practiced to the point that , it is one fluid continuously smooth but fast motion, so quick the average fan in the stands will never even see the mechanical moves actually being made by the catcher.
This is what we know and mean when we say to get rid of that ball with an extremely quick release. There are certain rudimentary learned motions which makes this happen. From the first days you are taught to have soft hands in catching the baseball i;e give with the catch so a catcher should train himself to be automatic in skillfully allowing contact of ball to his mitt continuing (i;e soft hands technique) on with the momentum of ball and mitt moving to the right and taking the ball from the mitt more near the right side of your body where the cocking of the arm must be for the throwing release.
Shifting of and placing the left foot forward of the right foot as the pitch is being received gains valuable fraction of seconds for the slide step and release of that rifle shot to nip the fleetest of possible base thiefs.
Strong arm quick release and instead of being the scape goat you are the talk of the town and every player in the league knows, they had better stick close to the bag they have reached, and no stealing this day.
3. Tough Strong Hands And Fingers: A catcher through out his playing days is constantly taking a pounding in his glove hand and catchers mitt stopping a baseball whizzing in there up to 80+ miles per hour. This goes on pitch after pitch all game long.
Your baseball field general might send in a fresh pitcher but toughie catcher knowing how to play catcher sits back there taking every throw with each relief pitcher throwing harder than the one before.
The hand not in the glove, his throwing hand , is reaching and grabbing that ball not like gently picking up eggs from a nest but grabbing and throwing that rock as fast as he can.
Sometimes this free hand might find little baseball off the edge of that mitt and takes a pretty good lick or bite onto the fingers of the throwing hand.
Now you tell me if those hands and fingers are not strong and tough how will they take this abuse and keep right on grabbing the pitches and making those throws?
Many have tried how to play catcher but often it will be time out and , "Hey coach let some other dude do this job."
Very interesting this strong hands and strong finger bit. One of the all time great catchers' and a Hall Of Fame player Johnny Bench had his picture taken where he held a phenomenal number of baseballs in one hand grip.
If my memory serves me right he could grip and hold seven (7) official baseballs in one grip. Folks the point is simple he did not have fingers as long as say, "Shaquille O'Neil" or "Magic Johnson" the magic was his strong hand and his strong fingers allowed him to put enough pressure onto the grip to hold that entire double fist full of baseballs with one hand.
This Johnny Bench was one dude who knew how to play catcher.
Weak or tender hands will not be able to withstand the incessant pounding and scrapping of the catching gripping and throwing required in the numbers for which a catcher is doing his job of how to play catcher.
The worst part of how to play catcher, I am hesitant to even mention, ladies and gentlemen many a foul tip has its first target against the hands and fingers of our catcher.
It requires a real toughie to take this action.
Here is an interesting question for you. Have you ever seen a left handed catcher? By the same token have you ever seen a left handed third base man?
There have been some southpaws play the position but they are as rare as a 1909 VDB penny.
4.Quick Feet: A slow moving catcher clumsily moving his feet to make that throw to second, to put out a runner, or to catch a base runner to far off base will normally or almost never gets the job done.
Using the term normally or almost never is close to being fact, there are some very rare exceptions to this quick feet scenario.
You might ask, "What can overcome this slow footed movement?" An exceptional strong throwing arm and a release quicker than a blink of the eyes or a sudden hiccup.
The one catcher in the history of baseball known for his extremely quick release and ability to throw out runners from the semi squatting position was Bill Dickey of the New York Yankees.
Two great Hall of Fame catchers, for the Yankees wore the famous pin stripe No. 8 uniform, Bill Dickey was the first and the follow on great was Yogi Berra and because of the play of these two famed greats the No 8 uniform of Yankees has been retired.
Not withstanding there can always be an exception, to some tried , proven, most efficient and effective way to consistently get a job done, suffice it to say those quick feet by a catcher is needed 99.9 per cent of the time.
The quick feet is not needed to out run in a foot race the likes of "Ricky Henderson" nor "Mickey Mantle" but simply the quick shuffle of the feet and the sliding step toward the base to which you are throwing.
You do not wait for the ball to reach your mitt before you start your foot movement to make the throw.
Remember those fluid smooth quick movements are sequenced to move so fast and so quick it would take a stop action camera to detect all the quick body movement a catcher accomplishes to make those sure throws capturing a second base would be thief.
A catcher worth his salt is the supreme hustler, come out of that squat get on your hoss and back up the throws going to first base, when no runners are on base with a threat of coming home.
A throw which gets past the first baseman to the home plate side of the field is the catchers responsibility to retrieve and prevent the runner advancing to second base. The same is true in backing throws to third base. It is your pitchers responsibility to rotate and cover home plate while you ensure a throw getting past the third baseman is corralled post haste.
Some coaches prefer the pitcher to back the throws to third base, it becomes a coaching preference, it is coaches call as how to handle the possible backup play at third base.
5. Mental Toughness To Withstand Stinging Body Hits: Tough hands and fingers are not the only aspect of this need for toughness by a catcher. The whole body of a catcher is on the firing line or in the line of fire through out the entire game as he stands his ground there in the catchers box. Every mishandled pitch and every foul tip has the capacity to leave its calling card on a body part of the catcher.
The most prominent, and more often than all others, is the foul ball biting the ground at the feet or onto the feet of our catcher. Rarely, very seldom, most of the time there are no broken bones but you can know for sure it stings and it hurts. "Walk it off ", is the urging from the coach or trainer.
Most of the time the catcher will do just that walk off the hurt and he tries his dead level best not to reach down and rub the hurt. This takes mental toughness to simply walk or shrug this stinging hurt and to continue to play.
If you catch? The hurt will come. This is a rule for all baseball catchers be it Little League or Major League, if mommas boy wants to be a catcher , he needs to have the mental toughness to withstand stinging body hits.
6. Mentally Calculate And Remember Hitters Tendencies: The captain of the ship must know many things about his vessel, his crew, the weather and the forces involving the waters and the sea around him.
Out on the baseball diamond a catcher is not only responsible to catch the pitchers tosses and to throw out would be stealers of bases. The catcher must be the take charge leader keeping the pitcher on track throwing strikes and knowing the hitting tendency of his opponent at the plate.
What is there to know? This long tall drink of water coming to the plate might have a heck of a time hitting a pitch thrown low and to the outside of the plate. The catcher by playing enough has learned such tendencies which work like a charm and he must use this built in calculating experience and use it to an advantage for his battery mate the pitcher. The catcher will by position of his body and his catcher mitt call for the pitch to be low and to the outside.
OOps coming up to the plate is "Mighty Casey" of the crosstown Giants his muscles are so big his coach has allowed him to cut a slit in the shirt arm he is wearing.
Well now ! squatting back there is our catcher with some good memory in his noggin and he is thinking, "If we pitch this big boy high and tight up around the letters and buzzing close to those chin whiskers he will back out of that batters box and swing the bat like he is swatting at hornets.
Little catcher knows some things and his pitcher is glad to have him in the stable as his battery mate.
7. Personality To Get Inside A Hitters Head: This ability to carry on some chit chat or to distract a hitter with talk or conversation is a mighty weapon for a catcher. Nothing is more important for a hitter in that batters box than to have his total concentration for hitting the baseball.
Any distraction which makes him think of something else such as the catchers determined effort to engage his thought is strictly taboo as far as the hitter is concerned.
A cracker jack catcher will carry on such talk as, "What do you want a fast ball or a curve ball?" If he answers then you have him in your trap. If he doesn't answer at least you are making him think about something other than the pitcher and the pitch on its way.
Here is one of the best items for distraction is to ask him something personal like , "Hey buddy is that your girl friend over there with the blond pony tail trying to get your attention?"
Invariably and without thinking he will step out of the batters box to take a quick look. Human nature is at work and the catcher is at work working his tomfoolery for the distraction of the hitter.
One of the best ploys a catcher may use is to tell the hitter what pitch you have told the pitcher to throw. Tell him you are calling a fast ball low in the strike zone. Then do exactly that.
Nine times out of ten he will not believe you and at any rate he is busy thinking and sure as God made little green apples that ball comes zinging in there straight , fast and low in the strike zone.
The hitter was not ready so he missed his grand opportunity to blast one. But now you are in his head and he is thinking and so confused and, the pitches which follow will become blurs, now he is really at the catchers whim and command.
It is all so elemental but still works like a snake charmer of an Eastern Country playing his flute charming the cobra out of the wicker basket.
The catcher does not do this thing to every batter that comes to the plate he sits and waits till the heavy hitters begin to get their eye and good wood on the ball starting about the third inning or so.
This type of tactic will work at all levels of baseball but is especially effective at the American Legion and high school levels of baseball playing.
The professionals or major league boys are suppose to be immune to such but it still works but only using different lingo in the talk. At the major league level you stroke their ego by talking about the great home run the hitter hit in yesterdays game or congratulate him about his strong batting average.
You can now readily see how to play catcher has weapons which can be used, when one knows words are as mighty as the sword, even while knowing how to play catcher.
How to play catcher embodies this ability to get inside the head of a hitter at the plate so as to break up his hitting concentration.
Your third period English has explained this to you over and over again that the effective use of words will pay huge dividends later in life. Now this upstart boy learning how to play catcher is glad he paid close attention in English class.
8. Psychology To Keep The Pitcher Upbeat And Fired Up: We need to keep in mind that the game of baseball is not rocket science it is supposed to be fun and enjoyable but a little bit of smarts will add the winning touch and winning is a lot more fun than being on the short end of scores.
A catcher with jam up knowledge of how to play catcher along about the sixth inning feeling somewhat tired then he also needs to remember that his ace pitcher, out there toeing that rubber on the mound, has seen times he too felt more refreshed.
All-Star catchers will stay upbeat and peppery with their talk and the way they fire that ball back to his buddy and battery mate his pitcher. The pitcher will feed off this pep and hustle of his catcher and keep focused and firing that pebble into that strike zone with all he has to give.
The catcher needs to be extremely accurate in his throwing abilities. We stress pinpoint pitching for the pitcher to keep that ball into the strike zone.
Alright catcher the same applies to you, that sharp quick throw to get a runner out wandering to far past a base must be on point well placed to get the tag out. You might say, "Ole shoe I'm trying my darnedest." Little buddy, trying won't get it ,for it takes practice and keeping focused on what is important about your job.
Opposing base runner who wander off base into "la la land" are only a quick step back to the base so the quick but precise accurate throw is needed to catch that napping goat.
To keep from working your pitcher and wearing him out reaching and bending to take your lazy throws, all game long, now is the time to practice. Make every throw back to your pitcher be as sharp in velocity and accuracy as you can make them. That throw back to your pitcher should be right in his letters on the glove side of his body. You are accomplishing two vital things by this action. You are practicing throwing accuracy habit plus you are keeping your pitcher alert relaxed and on focus for his job to keep throwing those strikes.
The jam, up ball of fire, and knowing how to play catcher baseball catchers will command the other infielders to come on lets hear that chatter. "Stay with us stay wide awake and show some life."
Calling a short time out and walking to the mound, to talk to your pitcher eye ball to eye ball will give him a time to relax and puts the pitcher in a much better frame of mind, this will help him to throw those BB's and and to keep on smoking the strike zone with that fast ball.
Walking a batter in the late inning of the baseball game will spell disaster and let an easy win slip right through a teams easy grasp. A catcher is trying to prevent this sad state of things by keeping his pitcher fired up and in the groove with his pitches.
9. Tough As Nails: Those stinging body hits is only part of the equation of making things rough and tough for our catcher. There is the question of real body collisions, which are imminent and possible, right there at home plate any time there are runners on base.
Any catcher who does not have the toughness to withstand these collisions should start looking hard toward finding himself another position on the team. Think goodness the catcher at least has body protection equipment he wears making him look like a modern day gladiator.
If we found our catcher wondering around in the deep forest of medieval time, dressed out in his full protective attire, we could probably mistake him for one of the Knights from King Arthurs' round table.
Shall we review some of our catchers armament? He wears a mask, a breast protector, shin guards with knee guards and has on his left hand of left his arm a fairly good solid chunk of padded leather called a catchers mitt.
Now here is a shared, seldom known and almost never taught, action to help a catcher feel safer and a whole lot less vulnerable guarding home plate when an imminent body collision is about to occur.
Our catcher should be prepared for the collision, by being ready for the contact, which is surely coming.
There are legitimate sliding techniques a runner could utilize to try avoiding the tag ,but then again, there will be those tough bully guys who have maim and destroy on their mind coming like a fullback barreling across home plate.
Here how to play carcher is the protection method every catcher should learn well.
Catch the incoming ball grab it firmly gripped in your free hand and become like " Joe Louis" a well prepared boxer, left jab that heavy catchers mitt into the mid section solar plexus or chest of the incoming bully. Calmly but with determined deliberation with that free hand firmly gripping the ball jab those ribs.
Every school boy should be taught that the best way to tame a school yard bully is a sharp left jab with a good crossing right lick.
The ball tightly squeezed in the fist while making that forceful well placed tag is the surest and most secure method to not lose the ball during a colliding tag out.
This technique put into practice is when one knows he has the hang of this how to play catcher.
Trying to make a tag with the ball and mitt combination is disaster in the making and the odds are good you will lose control of the ball and big bad bully is safe by default your fault.
The next time big fullback is coming to home plate as a runner he might show some cool and sensible hesitation for the smart how to play catcher has won the play at home.
There should be no place on a baseball diamond for a play of brute force from a bully.
There is a fine line difference sometimes in playing smart and doing things to gain the advantage or to play one-ups-manship of grit and mettle without physical bully tactics.
All baseball players know the time when that fine line difference is crossed.
The catcher as our well armored gladiator should never take off and get rid of his face protection mask without knowing exactly were he has put it. There are only two (2) places for the catchers face mask other than on his head or in his hand.
The first place is to toss it gently and with a strategically placed purpose down the third base foul line but slightly into foul territory or path of the incoming runner.
The how to play catcher has been taught to get rid of the mask toward third base as the runner rounds second base with the possible charge toward home. Do not and never ever wait till the runner passes the third base to toss that mask in his running path.
That would be playing lowball bad pool and taking an unfair unscrupulous advantage. However, that mask laying on the ground has nothing to do with the runners decision to stop at third or to keep on trucking for home. He makes a decision of his free choice he is not dodging a mask being thrown at him.
Goodness gracious there is a catchers'face mask laying in the path of travel of that runner rounding third headed home, that mask deftly positioned, requires the runner to change his stride to avoid which looks like a beaver trap in his path.
The well coached how to play catcher by this simple action makes the runner to change his stride which may slow him up just enough for the easy tag out.
you want to keep that mask in your hand on a pop fly until you are ready to catch that errant high pop up.
How to play catcher requires you to know and practice many little subtle but vital aspect of playing the positiion.
What you are doing is ensuring while looking up and moving about you do not leave the mask where you might stumble step on it trying to make that catch.
Baseball fans that is what is known as being tough as nails, tit for tat, and surely fair when protection from the complete body to body dynamic collision is facing our catcher.
10.Ability To Work The Umpire: Here again we need our catcher to be smart and understand how to play catcher and the ways of human nature. During the course of a complete game there are going to be some pitches which could and will be called either way.
Our team catcher wants the umpire to always give him the benefit of most close (either way) calls in our teams' favor.
A catcher who forms a habit of consistently griping, grumbling or makes a smart mouthed remark on close calls will surely not get the benefit his way on the future close calls. If not this game then in some future game.
Folks like it or not that umpire works under the same rules of human nature as all of us.
If the umpire likes the attitude and the hustle and demeanor of a good catcher then the benefit on the close (either way calls) odds are much greater of having calls in favor of our catcher.
While ball players around the league have the nature of spreading the word and talking about the play of other teams and specific players and the same is true between the fans around the league.
How to play catcher exhibited by the creme of the crop backstop of the league gets the press, the murmurs, and the All-Star accolades come trophy time
Applying this same logic , umpires around the league will remember the attitude and playing habits of players. Build a negative poor sportsmanship demeanor and it will cost you on close either way calls sometime down the road.
It is not suppose too spill over into the umpires realm, but bet your bottom dollar human nature has no favorites, for it is at work in all of us.
Hopefully I have shared some information which allows every one of you catchers how to play catcher and to become better at your trade.
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