NC Baseball Academy | Catching Overview
NC Baseball Academy uses the latest, most current information and drills to teach catcher’s position play. Our staff’s contact and relationships with Current and Former Professional Catchers, Major College Level Coaches and Professional Scouts keeps our teaching methods on the cutting edge. NC Baseball Academy is constantly learning so we can help you Learn how to become a better receiver, a better blocker and a better thrower from this very important position and skill on the field.
“Player development is accelerated by the proper learning environment and proper training methods. NCBA has them both! The facilities and instructional staff at NCBA are the finest I have seen on the east coast!” — MLB Scouting Director
Set Ups are a critical and fundamental position for catchers. Poor set ups tip pitches and put catchers in poor positions to receive, block and throw. When signaling a pitch, the catcher should be on their toes, knees pointing straight ahead, chest up, and hand resting high and against the inside of their right leg. This set up position is blocking out base coaches and runners on the corners so that only the pitcher and middle infielders can see. Once the pitch has been signaled, the catcher will take 2 quiet steps to assume their proper receiving position. No base runners on, the catcher will sit lower to the ground and be more relaxed. With runners on, the catcher will spread their feet wider, raise their hips up off their heels, and keep both hands out front of their chest in anticipation of blocking a pitch or throwing out a base stealer.
The catcher’s primary responsibility is to call the correct pitches and receive/catch them for strikes. Any pitch that comes within the catcher’s body frame should be “frozen” in place to clearly present it to the umpire. The thumb of the mitt should try to remain in the 3 O’Clock position to easily frame all pitches when possible. Catchers should relax the mitt as the pitcher starts his delivery so they can react to balls thrown to different parts of the strike zone or out of the strike zone. A catcher should always anticipate a poor pitch poor and be ready to help the pitcher by catching the ball with a soft approach.The catcher’s head and body will remain still on these pitches. For pitches around the edge of the strike zone, the catcher will slightly angle their mitt towards the plate before receiving the ball to help frame the pitch back into the strike zone. Good receiving habits must be present every pitch to maximize the number of called strikes during games.
Blocking is the toughest job of catchers at all levels of the game. Good technique is important but a desire to always keep the ball in front and away from the backstop is a trait all coaches want in their catchers. When a pitch bounces in the dirt, the catcher should attempt to stop the ball using their chest protector and not their mitt. Their mitt starts to turn over and lead to the ball as soon as the pitch is released. The mitt must contact the ground first on balls thrown directly short and in front of the plate and be very close to getting in that position when balls are thrown outside the body. The elbows and forearms need to flare out some to make the catcher wider in an effort to keep the ball in front and discourage the base runner from advancing a base. The knees will replace the feet as the mitt tucks between legs to cover the gap under their body. Chin and chest tuck down and over the ball as the pitch comes into contact with the ground. Blocked pitches must be recovered quickly, and with the bare hand when possible, to a throwing position to prevent base runners advancing.
Throwing is a direct result of proper sequencing and timing for consistently catching runners stealing. After the catcher sees the runner begin their steal, they will anticipate making a quick exchange by slightly angling their body as the pitch is received. After they receive the pitch, the catcher will turn their mitt and reach in to grab the ball with their throwing hand. The exchange is made at the center of the chest, and the ball should never be flipped or dropped to the bare hand. The catcher will replace their feet to get their body aligned to the target (right to left, left to target). During footwork, catcher uses a short arm action to separate hands from the middle of the chest and execute the throw immediately when the left foot lands. A quick exchange and release are a direct result of proper footwork. Catchers should be athletic and not too mechanical so they can make throws from different positions and angles which will result in more runners caught stealing. A strong arm with velocity is great but a good arm with a quick release and accuracy is ideal!