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Having a Great Catcher is No Laughing Matter!

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Having a Great Catcher is No Laughing Matter!

By Chip Lemin

Hello Coaches,

To be successful as a baseball team must be strong up the middle. Up the middle consist of catcher pitcher, second base, shortstop, and center fielder. The majority of hit baseballs will find their way into this section of the field, so it makes sense to put your best fielders, your best athletes in these positions.

Steal attempts of second base, double plays, force outs, and hits up the middle can all be addressed by these players. A take charge, tough catcher who captains the defense is a perfect fit. The good catcher will help inspire and motivate other players to give their best effort.

Your catchers are your team's emotional leaders through example. They should handle defense alignments, call pitches, and keep the team focused.

Something as simple as a passed ball can change the complexion of a game. A recent game that my son's team lost by a run, showed that the winning team did not have a passed ball for six innings. This happened with runners on third three of the last four innings. By comparison, my son's team had four passed balls, two leading to runs scoring. For passed balls on 98 pitches is still pretty good, but in this game not good enough.

Whenever your catcher's keep passed balls to an absolute minimum, your defense automatically improves. Passed balls and walked are far too costly and should not be a routine part of your game. Our section on catching will start with the basics, movie into more advanced techniques, along with drills that will improve this vital position on your team.

Tightening the defense begins at catcher, by keeping runners in force out positions along with preserving chances for double plays. Improving footwork, blocking and throwing mechanics will also increase the number of runners thrown out on the bases.

Bunting will not be as big of a weapon to be used against your team, when opposing teams know that your catcher knows how to defense bunts. Learning what side of the base to throw to on bunts, and dropped third strike is part of the detail that a good catcher will know.

Catchers who understand the basics of calling pitches will also save your team runs, along with wear and tear on pitcher's arms. Catchers who want the off speed pitch in the dirt with two strikes, and runners on second and third base, are what great teams possess. Right now, begin the process of making your catcher the backbone of a solid defense up the middle.

Here's the scenario. Your team is in a very close game against a superior team. You then witness your to run lead vanish as a 2 out 2 strike passed ball allowed runners to move up to second to and the third base and score on a little flair hit to right field.

This may bring back bad memories of a leaky defense losing close baseball games. I don't mean to pick got catchers because they are the warriors of baseball, who should be treated with the utmost respect.

Catchers must be the leaders of any good baseball team. At 8 or 9 year old leagues, this may not be possible, although it is never too early to find your next catcher. Everyone looks to the catcher in tough situations to set defenses, call pitches, and push his fellow players to excel. Instruct your catchers to give signs properly. Show them how hold signs up high, to make it tougher for teams to steal them.

Catchers must give science slowly and in a fashion that the pitcher can see clearly. Pitch location must not be given away until the pitcher goes into the windup or starts his motion. Small details like moving slightly to your back side on of fastball down the pike are usually overlooked moving in catching an offline pitch to the glove side is easier than to your back hand side. Keep your glove down and the targets of unless the pitch is called to be up. This should always be stressed. It is easier to get away with pitches too much over the plate when they are down in the zone.

When your catcher moves to the ball quickly and catches it like it was thrown to a spot, your chances of getting a borderline call will increase. If it appears the catcher is reaching for pitches, it will look like your pitcher doesn't have command, and will not get those borderline calls.

Please do not encourage a lot of framing of pitches, although it can be done. There are a few details to framing pitches that we will cover later.

The pitcher can help himself, his team, and his catcher, by getting ahead in the count. Off speed pitches and set up this can actually be off the plate to two or 3 in. when you are ahead in the count. The pitcher can then throw a pitch in the dirt with confidence and the catcher will be ready for it.

When pitching behind in the count, the setup must be on the plate, because we cannot fall farther behind, and we cannot throw the ball in the dirt on purpose.

Balls in the dirt really determine who wants to be a catcher and who does not . Catchers must be mentally intense and ready for the entire game to block balls in the dirt be effectively. Young catchers often try to catch balls in the dirt with their glove. This is a hit and miss situation. It looks great when you catch it, and it looks bad when you don't. It takes practice to convince youngsters to drop down to their knees right away without standing up in order to block a pitch.

Developing a good catcher will not happen in one practice. Constant praise attention must be given to any new candidates who tryout for this important spot. Make you are a positive role model to your catchers, with plenty of support and proper instruction. Get professional instruction if you are not sure. Thanks Coach Chip

Thanks, Coach Chip.

Coach Chip

Chip Lemin has been a promoter of youth baseball since they started using aluminum bats. That's a long time. I have witnessed many good people get into coaching without solid coaching skills and it is not fun for them or the kids.Today's newer coaches are also being shortchanged on sportsmanship, like there is none. Visit my site to sign up for a insightful, informational, free coaching e-course at

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