Baseball Receiving and Pop Throw Drill | Catching Drills
Athletic training must include two components in order to increase an athlete’s reaction time. First, athletes need to train their bodies to operate at a speed greater than they are used to. This training will actively recruit a greater number of fast twitch muscle fibers as well as increasing the brains ability to activate those muscle fibers quicker. Along with training the body to increase speed athletes must also train their body to go through the motions. Go to the Baseball Core Strength Drills in the Baseball Training Section for some great drills to increase the reaction speed of the trunk and the hips. Just as a batter takes thousands and thousands of swings in the batting cage to constantly maintain and improve their swing and hitting mechanics catchers must also practice performing game like situations so they do not have to think about performing the motions.
Using catching drills, which mimic game like situations, will allow catchers to develop and maintain their muscle memory so they can focus on more important game situations. If a catcher has not been utilizing catching drills during training sessions the athlete may be forced to focus more on what their body is doing instead of the movement being a reflex for the situation. This focus on body positioning and movements can lead to mistakes during competition, especially if a sudden play occurs (baserunner steals second) and the athlete is thinking about how to move his feet and arms instead of focusing on throwing the runner out at second base.
When athletes practice catching drills and making moves to second, even at less than game speed, it trains their bodies how to react in these situations allowing for much smoother transitions in and out of the crouch. This smooth transition generates stronger, more accurate throws.
Catching Drills To Improve Body Positioning
This catching drill requires the athlete have a glove, at least ten Chaos Balls or baseballs, and at least one partner. Athletes will crouch down into their catching position as a teammate or coach throw a series of balls to the crouching athlete.
To begin the catching drill partners will stand 15-20 feet away from the athlete and throw 10 balls to the athlete performing the catching drill. Distance can be adjusted based on age and skill level of athlete. These balls will be located down the middle to simulate a pitch going down the middle of the plate. It will be good to start the catching drill with an easier catch so the athlete performing the drill can prepare their bodies for more difficult catches.
After athletes catch the ball it should be quickly discarded out of the way so the catching drill can continue. After the initial 10 balls are thrown down the middle partners will throw 10 balls to the outside of the athlete. During the catching drill “outside” refers to outside of the athletes body on the glove hand side. If an athlete performing the catching drill wears their glove on their right hand their “outside” would be to the outside of the right side of their body. Partners will throw 10 balls to the outside and then repeat the process by throwing 10 balls to the outside of the non-glove side of the athlete.
Athletes performing the catching drill need to focus on watching the ball all the way into their gloves while partners are throwing the balls. This will increase hand eye coordination so athletes are more aware of the relationship of their hand to the ball when it is being pitched or thrown to them. Performing this catching drill will also allow athletes to familiarize themselves with how their body needs to shift or be positioned when a pitch is made to their glove or non-glove side.
Partners should attempt to make crisp throws to the athletes performing this catching drill. This is not a blocking drill but rather a chance for athletes to focus on simple fundamentals and game like situations. This practice will help athletes develop and maintain smooth, effortless movements when catching. These fluid movements will allow athletes catching during a game to conserve energy.
Best Catching Drills To Improve Outs On The Bases
Practicing moving through the motions of catching a baseball from the crouched position and transitioning into a strong, accurate throwing position will help catchers throw more runners out at second and third. It also allows them to develop and improve their pickoff moves to first base.
This catching drill takes athletes through a variety of catching drills which will force athletes to work on body positioning and being efficient when getting out of their catching stance. When hundredths of a second make the difference between making an out on the bases it is critical that catchers take every advantage they can to be fast and fluid coming out of their stance and into their throwing motion.
To begin the catching drill athletes will work on their pickoff move to first. Partners will throw a ball to the athlete in their crouched position. Athletes will pop up and mimic a throw to first, athletes will not throw the ball but will stop right before they begin their throwing motion. Athletes will also mimic their pop up and body positioning on throws to second and third. All of these throws will be performed 5 times each.
While athletes are making these catches and popping up into their throwing position they must be sure they are practicing good body positioning and footwork. A large part of this catching drill is to train the body on what it is supposed to do when certain situations occur. This catching drill does an excellent job of training athletes to perform good body positioning. Therefore, it is essential coaches and athletes are paying close attention to how the body is positioned and moving during the catching drill.
Good Body Positioning When Making Moves To The Bases
When athletes make a move to a base they need to make sure they rotate their hips so their front foot can step toward their target. This allows for a great push off with the back foot for additional rotational strength. Athletes should also practice making eye contact with their target as they come out of their catching stance. Remember the more game like athletes can make their training the better it will translate into greater success on the field. Even the little things can make a big difference in a game where things happen in a flash and sometimes with little warning.