Web Sites
      build a site
      site finder
      spotlight sites
      tips and drills
      art of catching
      pitching clinic
      workout clinic
      coaching tee ball
      sports psych
      OBR rules
      FED rules
      basic rules
      message boards
      sports recruiting
      ratings & rankings
      clubs & associations
      camps & clinics
This skill can win or lose a tight game. One misconception is that blocking a ball in the dirt is a catchers only requirement. Not only is it important to block the pitch, but also to properly retrieve the baseball and get your body in a position to throw out a runner trying to advance. It must be stressed to catchers not to admire their work when they block the baseball. Catchers need to get up and pounce on the ball.

When blocking a baseball it is important to get both knees on the ground as quickly as possible. You do not want to hop up and then hit the ground, but drop to your knees immediately. The direction of the ball will dictate whether or not you will need to push off in any direction. This is done with your feet. You must get an aggressive push off with your legs toward the direction of the baseball. The next movement is to put your glove back against your cup with your fingers down, not the back of your hand down. If your fingers are down and the back of your hand is against your cup, you have set up a barrier for the ball to bounce off. If your hand is on the ground, you have created a ramp for the ball to hit and continue in a forward motion. The ball will have an opportunity to continue its forward movement and possibly get away from the catcher. During this time your throwing hand must be placed behind your glove. This will protect your hand from injury and help square up your body to the ball.

A catcher must also protect their throat and neck. To do this the catcher must take their chin and tuck it into their chest. They should not drop their head down, just their chin. Dropping the head will cause the catcher to loose track of the baseball. By only dropping the chin, the catcher will still be able to visually track the baseball.

A catcher needs to be flexible. They need to be able to sit on the ground in the blocking position. The lower they are to the ground, the less area the ball has to get under the catcher.

A catcher should attempt to block all balls in the dirt when there are runners on base or when there are two strikes on the hitter. When a dropped third strike occurs, a hitter may try to advance to first base if it is unoccupied. A catcher should make it as easy on their pitcher as possible. If the pitcher can get a hitter to chase a pitch in the dirt, they should be rewarded with a strike out.

As there are different types of pitches that will be thrown, their are different ways to block these pitches. The goal in blocking is to block all balls so that they will hit you in the center of your chest and drop harmlessly in front of you. Do not try to catch a ball that is in the dirt. Trouble starts when a catcher tries to catch the bouncing ball and misses. The result is a ball back to the screen and the advancement of runners on base.

When a fastball is thrown in the dirt the catcher should maneuver their body in front of the baseball and block it back to the middle of the field. Their body should be perpendicular to the ball. If the ball is blocked correctly, off the middle of the chest protector, the ball will hit and return to the direction from which it came from.

Depending on whether or not a right handed or a left handed pitcher is throwing will dictate which direction a catcher will turn their body to adjust for the spin of a breaking ball. Therefore, blocking the breaking ball requires some thought and preparation.

As you look at home plate from the pitchers mound, a right handers' breaking ball will hit the ground and spin right, a left handers' breaking ball will hit the ground and spin left. A catcher must angle their body to adjust for the spin of the baseball. They must push off with the opposite leg and drive their body over to meet the baseball and block the baseball back towards the middle of the field. An aggressive push with the opposite leg is crucial. They must be able to beat the ball to the spot and block the baseball.

There will come a time when even the best catcher will be unable to block a fastball or breaking ball that is throw way outside or inside. The catcher will not have a chance to get their body in front of the baseball. This is where the goalie save comes into play. This technique is used primarily for the ball towards the backhand side of the catcher. The catcher will push off hard with the back foot and drag the glove across the ground. You should turn the glove over and get out as far as you can. The leg you initially pushed off from will drag across the ground and assist you in getting to your feet quickly, after you get a glove or body on the ball. Basically, you throw everything you have at the ball in an attempt to stop or slow a poorly thrown ball. A variation of this will come on a pitch thrown towards your glove side. The mechanics are the same only this time you have an open glove. The goal is the same, stop the ball.

At this point it is important not to admire your work. Don't allow yourself to be satisfied with a great block. It is now time to retrieve and get your body in a position to throw.

First, locate the ball and quickly get to your feet. From the blocked position it is important to clear your hands from the middle of your body. It should be done by exploding your hands and arms in opposite directions. Do not lift your hands up and out in front of your body. The baseball can get caught up in your hands or arms if your first movement is out towards the pitcher. If your movement is away from your body, you decrease the chance of making contact with the baseball and increase the chance of keeping the ball in front of you.

Next, you should round the ball. Get your chest over the baseball and in a position to scoop up the baseball. Note, we have yet to look for the runner that may be trying to advance. The single most important aspect at this stage is to get to the ball first, then check the runner. A common error is to check the runner first. If you see the runner go, you may panic, or get in a hurry, and not retrieve the ball correctly. Get the ball first and then check the runner. Besides, if the rest of your teammates are paying attention, you will hear them yelling "runner".

Never pick up the baseball with only the glove or only the bare hand. The hand and glove must work together. This can be referred to as "raking" the baseball. A common error is made when a catcher tries to pick the ball up with only one hand. If the ball is not fielded the first time, the catcher may panic and continue having trouble picking up the ball, kick the ball, or field it and make a bad throw because they are in a hurry. Two hands will give you a greater opportunity to field the ball the first time.

As you rake the ball, you should be angling your body to the base the runner could be advancing to. You should get your feet set, your mind ready to throw and now find the runner. If the runner is trying to advance, throw a strike to the bag. If the runner is not going to advance but is leaning, throw behind him. The key is be ready to throw to any base. Want to throw the runner out. Take pride in blocking, retrieving and throwing the baseball effectively. This can make a difference in the outcome of the game. A good catcher wants to call a breaking ball in the dirt with two strikes and the winning or trying run on third. The pitcher must have confidence in the catcher to get the job done, and the catcher must have confidence in themselves.
< Back
Football Soccer Basketball Baseball Ice Hockey Cheerleading Softball Volleyball Lacrosse Swimming Tennis Bowling More Sports