Blog Post #2: Balance
Today we discussing balance for catching. Utilizing balance as a catcher is just as critical as receiving the pitch, because an unbalanced catcher can move a pitch from a strike to a ball. Ultimately, this causes the umpire to question a strike and possibly make a decision to call the strike a, “ball.” So making sure you have stable and comfortable primary and secondary catching positions, with the goal of removing any bouncing head movement. By eliminating “bouncing” or “up-and-down” head movement, you give yourself the best opportunity to consistently catch any ball thrown at you. For example, with bouncing head movement you can make an 11/4 curveball with a hard 7” break, look like an 11/4 curveball with a hard 10” break! That makes receiving the baseball extremely difficult. Keeping balanced primary and secondary catching positions, with limited head movement will make life easier behind the plate for receiving pitches.
Another reason for having balanced primary and secondary catching positions is they will give your pitchers a quality target to throw at. Being a solid target for pitchers, framing marginal pitches, and being balanced with your shoulders (squaring your shoulders to the pitcher) when receiving, will help the umpire gain a better view of the pitch. For example, if a catcher is continuously twisting his shoulders to catch a baseball, or reaching for the baseball, this gives an umpire the illusion that the pitcher missed his spot and the catcher is making up for the pitcher’s mistake. The correct move for the catcher would be (1) to trust that the pitcher is going to hit the spot, (2) let the baseball travel, (3) receive the pitch with his/her thumb down, (4) keep his/her shoulders square with good catching posture, and (5) give the umpire the best view of the pitch. Catchers should only frame marginal pitches and strikes. If it is a ball, then it is a ball. The quickest way to anger an umpire is to continuously frame pitches that are clearly out of the strike zone.
The last reason for having balance behind home plate is to shut down your opposition’s running game. By being balanced you give yourself the best opportunity to block pitches, throw behind runners, catch runners stealing, and squash the bunting game. How is that? When you are balanced, you can move side-to-side easier for blocking, you will have the ability to quickly get your feet or knees under you to accurately throw a baseball with high velocity, and you will be faster getting out of your catching position to shut down a small ball game.
Things you can control as a catcher:
- Have stable and comfortable primary and secondary catching positions;
- Always on the balls of your feet, never flat on your heels;
- Limiting head movement in catching positions;
- Being a solid, stable, and balanced target for pitchers to throw at;
- Only frame marginal pitches and strikes;
- When receiving, shoulders are square with good catching posture;
- Be balanced behind home plate, giving yourself the best opportunity to block pitches, throw behind runners, catch runners stealing, and squash the bunting game.
“Drill Of The Week” – Balance Beam Workouts
Leg strength, flexibility, and posture are obviously going to make you a stronger catcher, but balance in your toes is the key to performing perfect “Balance Beam” drills.
Important Notes To Performing The Drill:
- Stay on your toes;
- If you are going to fall, then fall. Reset immediately;
- Make sure your head/eyes are not going up and down. They should be on a steady line;
- Stay low with your buttocks and pinch your shoulder blades for posture;
- Long strides;
- Give a good target, as if you’re setting up to receive a pitch;
- Breathe with each step and try to connect your breathing with your movement;
- Do not cross your feet, they come close together and then stride out;
- Distance for your “Balance Beam” drills should range from 5 to 10 yards.
Please see the video below to help:
Written by: Conley Sampson
Conley Sampson’s Bio:
Conley is from Southern Orange County, California. He has extensive background in baseball (both playing and coaching professionally), a B.A. in psychology from San Francisco State University, and has gone through the up’s and down’s of being a highly competitive baseball player. Conley specializes in baseball psychology, hitting, catching, and infield instruction. Outside of baseball, Conley has enormous passions for email marketing, data analytics and management, digital marketing, solution advising, business growth, and training and development in the workplace. He is currently the Marketing Director and Player Development Coordinator for the Woodall Baseball Academy and Silver Sluggers Baseball, located in Madison, Wisconsin Area.
To learn more about the Woodall Baseball Academy, please visit: www.WoodallBaseball.com
To learn more about Silver Sluggers Baseball, please visit: www.SilverSluggers.com