Some teams do not have the luxury of having a coach at baseball practice for every position. Often times what happens is the coaches will be with the pitchers, infielders and outfielders, while the catchers are stuck catching balls for the infielders. If this is the case, you need to teach the catchers how they can coach themselves.
When catchers practice their skills, they shouldn’t practice anything for more than 10 minutes unless they‘re learning a new skill. The best way for a catcher to practice individual skills is 5-10 minutes at a time. Catchers can work on receiving, blocking and throwing, all for 5-10 minutes a practice. All of these skills can be practiced without the assistance of a coach. All that is needed is two or more catchers to work with each other.
Here are some drills that can be practiced every day:
- Flip balls inside and outside so catchers can work on shifting their body and receiving the ball (With or without a glove)
- Throw from 25-30 feet away, working on sticking pitches
- Rapid fire 5-6 pitches in a row, working on catchers' reflexes and reacting to balls quickly
- Dry blocking without a ball just going down and working on the perfect form
- Blocking pitches thrown from 15-20 feet away middle, left and right
- Play catch just working on the transfer from glove to hand
- Flip balls from 15-20 feet away and catchers work on footwork to each base
- Roll out bunts and work on footwork to each base
There is time available in almost every practice for your catchers to get this work in, so as a coach you need to make sure they are doing so, whether they have a dedicated coach or not. Catchers will get more out of doing skills every day for less time, rather than once or twice a week for a half hour or more. And they will certainly get more out of their practices if they are wokring on their own skills and game instead of just simply "being there" to catch balls for their teammates.
Hopefully this helps you use your catchers' time more effectively in your valuable - and often scarce - practice time. If you have other drills you like to have your catchers work on by themselves, we would love to hear about them in the comments below.
Kevin Hussey BSc, MSc - The Baseball Zone
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