Catching Myths

In my 30+ years of catching (yes, I still play hardball in a semipro league), I’ve seen and heard a lot of bunk when it comes to catchers and catching technique. Following are some of my favorites.

Catching Comes Naturally

Well, I guess it can, but for the most part, catching skills are learned. Yes, it is possible to put an athlete behind the plate and let him/her figure things out — and he/she will probably do just fine. But he/she likely won’t do things as efficiently as is possible, and won’t catch to the best of their abilities.

Catchers aren’t too bright

If your catcher isn’t too smart, your team won’t play to the best of its abilities. A good catcher is quite intelligent, and in fact should be one of if not the smartest player on the field. The catcher needs to be part strategist and part psychologist to get the most out of pitchers. The catcher also needs to make snap decisions to lead the defense.

Catchers can be fat and unathletic

Why does Hollywood always cast a chubby kid in the catcher’s role? More startlingly, why do so many coaches “stick” the heaviest and oftentimes most unathletic players behind the plate?

In reality, the catcher should be one of the better athletes on the team. Other than the pitcher, no player on the field is more involved in every pitch — and doesn’t it make sense to have the people handling the ball most often be athletic?

It’s vital for a catcher to have a strong arm – maybe the strongest on the team. He/she also needs to have the quickest feet, softest hands, and best balance. Further, the catcher has to be the best-conditioned position player on the field. If you’re not sure you agree, just try squatting up and down 150-200 times over a three-hour period, and mix in a dozen or so 90-foot sprints to simulate backing up first base on ground balls. Take note of how your entire body feels for the next four days, and perhaps you’ll reconsider your opinion.

Check back soon for these articles:
The “Tools of Ignorance”
Catching on the balls of your feet
“Pop” Times