The catcher is the only player on the field who is in charge of preventing a runner from scoring and also has to call pitches for the pitcher. It’s important that they know how to do both of these jobs well!
But before we get into how catchers can improve their skills, let’s take a look at some top drills for youth catchers that will help them get better at catching.
Top Drills For Youth Catchers
The following drills are a great way to improve your youth catcher’s skills.
1. Fielding Drills in Baseball
A good fielding drill to improve your catcher’s skills is the pop-up drill. Have your catcher set up in a crouch position and have someone hit a pop-up to them. They should try to catch the ball with their gloves and then transfer the ball to their throwing hand as quickly as possible.
Another great fielding drill is the scoop drill. Have your catcher set up in a squatting position and have someone hit a ground ball to them. They should try to scoop the ball with their gloves and then transfer the ball to their throwing hand as quickly as possible.
Both of these drills will help your catcher improve their glove skills and quickness.
2. Throwing Drills in Baseball
A good throwing drill to improve your catcher’s skills is the underhand toss. Have your catcher set up in a squatting position and have them throw with their dominant hand underneath their glove, much like an underhanded softball pitch.
This helps develop arm strength and accuracy without needing to use full force behind the throws. It also allows for the catcher to get a good grip on the ball before throwing.
Another great throwing drill is the pop-up toss. Have your catcher set up in a crouch position and have them throw with their dominant hand at an angle, similar to how they would throw to second base during a game.
This drill helps improve arm strength and accuracy while also simulating game-like situations.
Both of these throwing drills will help improve your catcher’s accuracy and arm strength. They will also help them get into better throwing positions to throw to each base.
3. Framing Drills in Baseball
A good framing drill to improve your catcher’s skills is the two-ball drill. Have your catcher set up in a crouch position and have someone toss them two balls at the same time.
They should try to catch one ball with their gloves and then quickly frame the other ball by placing their hands around it as if they were going to catch it.
This drill helps improve your catcher’s framing skills and quickness.
Another great framing drill is the four-ball drill. Have your catcher set up in a crouch position and have someone toss them four balls at the same time.
This drill helps improve your catcher’s framing skills and quickness even more than the two-ball drill.
Framing drills are a great way for catchers to work on improving their technique behind the plate while also increasing arm strength!
4. Receiving Drills in Baseball
Distance, accuracy, and quickness are the three factors in successful catching. The ability to judge a pitched ball is acquired with experience or through practice by playing catch every day.
- In team practice the catcher may be assigned to work with a pitcher or coach at pitching machines. In this way he can get a large number of batted balls in a short time. He needs a high “catchability” rating, which is the ability to catch the ball cleanly.
- A player may have a good arm and speed but not be able to catch the ball cleanly enough for his pitcher or coach to depend on him at all times.
- The catcher must be able to stand at a distance that gives him time to set his feet and get ready for the ball.
- If he wants a particular type of pitch from a pitcher, he should tell him before starting his windup.
In receiving, as in every other part of the game, players make mistakes. They may fumble or miss a pitched ball, or they may fail to stop the catcher’s throw. The most important thing in receiving is to always hustle, even when there are no runners on base.
5. Blocking Drills in Baseball
The primary purpose of these drills is to teach the ballplayers how to block the baseball with maximum efficiency in playing catcher, first base, and third base. Additional benefits are gained by practicing blocking skills.
These specific skills will only be effective when applied during game conditions allowing for moving feet or sudden changes of direction.
What follows are a couple of blocking drills that can be used to help teach and develop this extremely important baseball skill.
“Partner Blocking Drill #1”
Two players line up about 5 feet apart. On command, both players will simultaneously throw the ball hard to each other’s forearms. By using the forearms, the players are encouraged to rotate their shoulders and use good blocking technique instead of trying to stop balls with their hands or chest protector.
This drill is very effective in teaching players how to quickly rotate their hips and shoulders while blocking balls. It also helps teach the use of efficient footwork while staying low.
“Partner Blocking Drill #2”
A third base coach makes throws to each player continually for thirty seconds, while the other player catches the ball and makes a throw back to the coach. The two players should be about five feet apart and rotate after each set of throws.
This drill is very effective in teaching catching techniques while blocking balls at the same time. It teaches players how to move on and off line and across the base while staying low, allowing them to quickly read and react to bad throws and wild pitches.
It is critical that players rotate their shoulders and hips, keep their eyes on the ball, keep the throwing arm back until after contact with the glove is made, stay low, etc. Failing to do these things will cause problems for players at all levels of baseball competition.
Working out blocking drills into your practice routine will go a long way in developing efficient and effective base-blocking. A few minutes of quality work each practice is definitely worth the time and effort in order to make sure your players will be ready for game conditions when they arrive.
The 3 Basic Drills for an Effective Baseball Blocker
Every blocker needs to be fundamentally sound and have a variety of tools in his toolbox. There are three basic drills needed for every ballplayer regardless if he is a pitcher, catcher or infielder.
These three drills teach an athlete how to move his feet, swing his arms, and generate power with their core. Although these are not the only things that need to be taught they are essential for every player regardless of position.
The first drill is called the Ready Position Drill. This is a drill that can be done by any player on the field at any time. The position is done by standing tall, holding your glove up high on your chest and your throwing arm relaxed at your side.
This drill teaches you how to use proper footwork with good angles, body posture and proper positioning of arms. Too often players will not stand tall or hold their hands properly which can slow down their reaction time and cause bad habits.
Footwork is very important for any athlete to be successful, especially catchers and infielders, who make a living by getting to the ball quickly and making good throws. The Ready Position Drill can help eliminate poor footwork and teach players how to use proper form in order to get the most out of their feet.
The second drill is called the Bull in the Ring Drill. This drill is great for catchers and pitchers who need to practice blocking pitches. The catcher or pitcher should stand inside a circle of cones, while the other players throw balls to him from different angles at various speeds.
This drill teaches you how to set your feet quickly with good angles, how to stand your ground so you are not pushed back, and how to use the proper form when using your body to block pitches. It is important for catchers and pitchers to be able stay low in their blocking position so they do not give away balls that are coming outside of home plate or off the corner. Proper positioning of feet, knees, hips and upper body are essential for blocking pitches.
The third drill is called the Front Knee Bend Drill. This drill is great for any player who needs to work on quick positioning after making a catch or stop. The athlete should start in his ready position with one knee up by his chest, while his other leg is straight out behind him.
When catching the ball or making a stop, quickly get both knees down and off to one side while keeping your chest up and shifting your weight towards the base you are going to throw too.
This drill teaches proper positioning of feet, hips and upper body after completing a play and shifting weight quickly onto your throwing leg in order to make an accurate throw.
All three of these drills are simple and great for any player to work on in their down time, when at practice or when warming up before a game. These drills can be used by anyone and will help teach players the proper way to use their feet, swing their arms and generate power from the core.
They may seem like small things but they are essential for any athlete to be successful. The better conditioned you are the faster, stronger and more focused you will be when it comes game time.
Deflecting the Ball With Speed and Control – A Drill for Youth Catchers
One of the ultimate goals of youth catchers is to be able to receive ground balls and toss the ball back into the infield quickly.
These are the steps for deflecting the ball rapidly:
1. Taking the catcher’s stance – The catcher should be positioned in the ready position, with their throwing hand up near their ear and the glove down near their belt. This will allow them to receive the ball into their pocket (the space between the thumb and index finger when they are in catching position).
2. Have 3 throwers around in the field – At least 3 players should be in field to throw the ball.
3. Set back to starting position – Once the catcher is in catching position (on their knees with chest & eyes up, glove by belt), they should set back to their start position (knees slightly bent).
What is the Three Finger Catch Drill?
Many baseball coaches have their own variations of the Three Finger Catch Drill. Some prefer a particular way to hold the ball, while others vary the number of fingers they use for this drill.
The main idea behind the Three Finger Catch Drill is quite simple: it’s a method for catching pop-ups from players so that they can get used to catching and fielding a baseball.
The Three Finger Catch Drill is particularly useful for younger players because the large-sized softball is not as commonly used with youth programs as it is at the high school and college levels. Though there are many variations, here’s how you can do this drill:
1) Primary Position: The pitcher stands on the mound with a catcher directly behind him, squatting. The pitcher begins by letting fly with a baseball and catching it in his glove.
Once he has caught the ball, the catcher immediately responds by throwing three fingers back at the pitching position.
2) Secondary Position: An outfielder crouches and stays behind the two players, facing the pitcher.
3) Tertiary Position: A third baseman stands behind the outfielder, facing towards the outfield. Because it’s harder to catch a baseball with one hand than two, you can alternate which glove you use for this drill.
4) Hand Change: Once he has caught the ball thrown by the catcher, the pitcher immediately responds by throwing three fingers back at the catcher.
5) Catching: The catcher has to catch the baseball thrown by the pitcher with one hand.
The coach can then use various tools to gauge their player’s progress in mastering this drill, including sending grounders.
By varying where you are standing as a coach, you can also use the Three Finger Catch Drill to work on your player’s throwing accuracy.
Why is the Three Finger Catch Drill Useful?
While there are various ways to teach a baseball player how to catch and field their position, the Three Finger Catch Drill provides one of the simplest and most effective methods. This is because it’s very different from having them catch a ball as they normally would.
So why should you take up this method? There are several things that make it great, including:
- It allows the pitcher and catcher to work on their catching abilities.
- The outfielder gets a chance to be creative when it comes to fielding grounders and fly balls.
- The third baseman gets a chance to improve his ability to field high throws.
- It improves overall hand-eye coordination.
How To Do The Three Finger Catch Drill
- Position the catcher behind the pitcher, squatting and facing forward. – The outfielder and third baseman should stand to either side of the catcher.
- Have them get into position by crouching down and spreading their legs apart at shoulder width.
- The fielder should then lower himself into a modified hurdler’s start position.
What are Baseball Drills?
Baseball drills are different practices that baseball players engage in during their training, either with or without specific equipment or apparel, with the aim of improving various aspects of their game.
Studies have shown that there are four main categories of baseball drills, namely throwing drills, hitting drills, fielding drills, and pitching/catching drills.
- When it comes to improving your game as a baseball player or coach, it’s crucial that you take into account the various kinds of these practices. Not only are they effective at improving different aspects of your play but there are other benefits associated with them as well.
- Some of the benefits you’ll get if you engage in the drills include increased strength, speed, agility, power, accuracy, coordination and balance to name a few. Also bear in mind that different drills are appropriate for batters or pitchers alike.
- You can do them with or without equipment depending on your preferences or whether certain equipment is required. How intensely you do a drill can depend on your goal, for example whether you’re looking to improve endurance or power.
While there are a set of rules that must be followed when performing drills, it’s important to note that these practices should only supplement the baseball training routine and not conflict with it.
What is the Ninja Receiving Drill in Baseball?
This is one of the best drills to teach kids because it will help them learn how to catch the ball correctly so they are prepared for game conditions. By having good mechanics when catching ground balls at practice you are giving yourself a better chance of doing it right in game conditions.
How to do the Ninja Receiving Drill?
There are steps to follow and a few things to remember:
- The coach will stand on either side of the player with a glove, about 10-15 feet away.
- The coach will roll balls towards the player without saying anything or making any other movement that would tip off where they are throwing (that is where the Ninjutsu part comes in).
- The player’s task is to use their reflexes to bat at the ball with a broomstick.
- When they make contact with it, they will try to catch it in their glove or drop down into a catcher’s squat position depending on where the ball was hit.
- If they catch it, great! If not, don’t give up. You are doing this drill to improve so you should be happy with being able to remember what it felt like when you caught or missed the ball (this will help in game conditions).
- When they miss catching the ball, toss another one immediately. The player must be determined not to fail because missing a few balls during practice won’t hurt them (unless they miss every single one and then we would need to rethink what we are doing).
We also use this drill for infielders. The only difference is that the player will stand sideways next to the coach, with their glove out as if waiting for a ground ball.
Instead of catching with a broomstick, the player actually uses their glove. This is more for infielders whose task is to field ground balls and make tags (or in the case of our league, run the ball back to the pitcher).
What is the Half Ball Drill in Baseball?
The Half-Ball Drill is an important drill for young ball players to help them learn proper hand placement on the bat.
Here’s how you do it: catch a baseball between your thumb and first finger, then place the barrel of the bat against the back side of your index finger. This basically cuts the ball in half and ensures you’re gripping the bat properly and not choking up too much/too little on it.
There are several benefits to this drill:
1) Helps young players develop good habits right off the bat.
2) Promotes proper hand placement on the bat for increased control and power.
3) Teaches proper weight transfer as well as squaring up to the ball and making good contact.
4) Develops a “feel” for how much bat is enough to make solid contact with the ball.
5) It actually feels pretty dang cool when you hit it well with it!
Finally, here are some tips for this drill:
1) If your players choke up on the bat too much or grip it too tightly, this drill will feel weighed down. Keep your players relaxed and their grip light!
2) Start with smaller balls to get a feel for how it should be done. As they get more comfortable, move up to larger balls.
3) If you have some bigger balls around, you can use those for this drill too.
4) Don’t do it all the time! Once your players get a feel for what proper hand placement is like, you don’t need to keep using the Half-Ball Drill forever. It’s just another way to teach them how to grip and swing the bat properly!
What is the Shadow Drill in Baseball?
The shadow drill is a great training aid to teach young players how to properly position their feet when fielding ground balls. It also teaches them the correct angles they will need to field ground balls in baseball.
- The Shadow Drill is named because when done correctly it looks like your player’s shadow is being projected on the field which mimics the angle of the ground ball once it has been fielded. This is why this drill is also called the “Shadow Angle Drill”.
- The following guidelines are for youth players of baseball, but can be modified slightly to accommodate any level of play. We have seen many professional scouts use this exact same drill at their camps with success!
- For younger players, stand at least 5-6 feet in front of them and have the player(s) move side to side. This will allow you to get a good look at their shadow angle being put on the field. If done correctly, your players should have near perfect 90 degree angles once they are finished with this drill.
- In order to perform the shadow drill, have your player face you and then take a lateral step with their left foot. Then they will bring their back foot up so that it is perpendicular to their front foot and in line with the pivot leg (left leg if the player is facing you). Their right arm should be bent at 90 degrees and placed out in front of their body. Their weight should be on the inside portion of their back foot (the heel).
Lastly, they will take a ground ball with their glove side hand and make an underhand toss to you simulating where they would “tag” the ball. As soon as they make contact with the imaginary ball, have them attempt to field where the ball would have rolled.
How the Shadow Drill Can Help
With this drill, not only do you get to watch from behind your players in a side view, but you can put yourself in a front view and see the angle that they are creating which will mimic that of a ground ball once it is fielded.
- If your player’s shadow comes out at less than 90 degrees, have them adjust their angle so that it is. If it comes out higher than 90 degrees, have them readjust so that it is closer to 90 degrees.
- The idea here is not just to get the ball back to you, but to also change the angle of their feet so that they keep them at 90 degrees. This will allow them to field the ground balls more efficiently.
Have your players do this drill every day aiming for 10 repetitions each side depending on their age/skill set. Doing these drills daily will improve ground ball fielding ability significantly allowing them to make the play in game situations.
Batting Practice Tips for Young Baseball Players
Batting practice can be a very stressful time for a young player. They go up to the plate with all of these thoughts in their head and forget to have fun while they are out there competing.
With that being said, we have five tips that will help your young player relax and enjoy batting practice.
1. Take Practice Swing After Practice Swing – This is the most important part of having fun at batting practice. If you watch your favorite big league hitter take practice swing after practice swing you will see why they are so good.
Repetition is key and if they make a mistake in their swing they can correct it because they have taken that swing 1000 times or more before. This is where you need to come in and help your player practice, even if it’s just 10 minutes before batting practice starts.
If they get their form down perfectly then when they get up to the plate for batting practice they only have to worry about competing instead of trying to correct their swing.
2. Get the right equipment– This is one of the biggest reasons why batting practice can be stressful for young players. If they are using a bat that is too heavy or has an awkward grip then it will throw off their feel at the plate and make hitting extremely difficult.
What is Done for Batting Practice
1. Getting down behind the plate – If you watch a Major League hitter they have their weight shifted over towards the front leg when they are behind the plate. This is so that all of their energy can go forward to hit the ball.
If your young player stands straight up with their weight evenly distributed on both feet then it will be very difficult for them to hit anything hard. When they get themselves down behind the plate and have all of their weight shifted towards the front leg it will make a big difference in how they feel at the plate.
2. Throwing pitches to the batter – This is one of the most frustrating things for a young hitter. If they are not getting pitches to hit then they will never develop their swing.
When your pitcher throws pitches outside of the strike zone, make sure you let them know where it’s going so that they can throw it again. This is one thing that you should always remember because hitting is the main objective during hitting practice.
3. Reacting to the pitches – This is another area where young players can struggle. They get so wrapped up trying to hit the ball that they forget about reacting once the pitch is thrown.
Remember to remind your player to react whenever they see a pitch. After all, hitting practice is complicated enough without worrying about what you are supposed to be doing at every moment. The more your player can just relax and hit the ball, the better.
When doing the drills for youth catchers, make sure you have them do it every day. This will help improve their ground ball fielding ability and make the play in game situations.
In a catching practice, make sure your player takes practice swing after practice swing, gets the right equipment and reacts to pitches.