No matter what level of baseball you play at, from little league up to adult league softball, if you are a catcher these are five skills you should work on for an improved game.
As a catcher, your body will take a beating. To be more exact, your legs will take the brunt of it. Stuck in the squatting position for the duration of your time on defense, you need strong legs in order to keep up with the workload.
Ways to strengthen your legs include weightlifting, running, and stretching. Mobility work will come in handy too. You need to have quick flexible hips and ankles in addition to cat-like reflexes. Depending on how serious you are about your future as a baseball player will determine how much work you put into it. Even if you only play in a recreational league you will want some added strength on your legs to help ease any pain you may feel once the game is over. This will also help your legs from shaking during at-bats, making you an offensive threat as well.
The primary arm you will be focusing on is your throwing arm, which if you are a catcher should be your right arm, but do not limit all of the strength conditioning to only one limb. You want to aim for balance in strength so never neglectfully target only one side of your body.
Your arms will become stronger through weightlifting and throwing the baseball. Catchers need unbelievably strong arms in order to succeed. They throw the baseball almost as much as pitchers do, although their precision can be a little less. It’s still important that your shoulders are strong and you don’t end up with an injury due to an untrained body.
Communication with Pitchers
A big mental aspect comes with the catching position. One way to do this is by communicating with your pitchers verbally and through body language.
You should never be fearful about going out to the mound to settle your pitcher down. Standing on that clump of dirt can be lonely for even the most dominating hurler. Developing a relationship with each pitcher is immensely important in order to help control the game, something every catcher should aim to do. It’s also important not to show frustration with the pitchers. When they screw up, you both screw up. You are on a team, act like it and find a solution.
Studying the Best
Learn from those who have done what you want to do. Even if the mentorship you embark on is through watching old videos of Johnny Bench, this is still a huge help.
Of course you may want to go one step further and actually find someone able to give you advice based on experience. Again, if you are nothing more than someone who plays for fun you don’t really need to go to these lengths to become a better player. On the other hand, if you are a high school player with big aspirations then you will have an immediate advantage over many others the more studying you do.
Practice makes perfect and you never will be so be prepared to practice lots. Catch as many innings as you can without burning yourself out. Keep your body and your mind fresh, but continue to push yourself even further.
The act of practicing involves getting into games and through more recreational means. Create your own drills and make sure you are always able to admit your weaknesses. You want as few of them as possible. Once base runners know you have a weak arm or a tendency to airmail the ball over the second baseman’s head, they will take advantage. Work on your weaknesses while your strengths continue to grow.