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Catchers and Catching in Baseball

Observe the player carefully and note things like the following:

  • After the player gets the equipment on, does he look like he’s used to wearing it, or is he fidgeting with it, pulling at it and trying to figure out how to wear it? Does it appear that it feels “weird” to him? A catcher that is used to wearing this stuff usually will just throw it on in a few minutes and be done with it.
  • When the player gets down is his receiving stance, does he look relaxed, comfortable and stable? Is it basically a correct stance? Or does he look clumsy and uncomfortable and not sure how he wants to squat? A catcher that has done a good deal of catching will normally get right down in a stance that you can tell is natural to him and feels O.K., even if you think it’s not an exactly correct stance.
  • When you are winding up, does the player appear ready, still relaxed and focused? Or, does the player appear pretty nervous, maybe a little scared at this point? Young catchers with experience at this point usually have a look of anticipation and focus. They are concentrating on your release and the ball, not worrying about getting hit by the ball. Most of the time it is easy to see the difference.
  • When you actually do the fake throw, does the catcher flinch, turn his head, bring his non-glove hand around to protect himself, even though you haven’t even thrown the ball yet? If he does, he’s probably relatively new at this and should be taught how to do things correctly, mainly to protect himself. Young catchers with innings under their belts won’t flinch too much at the point when you are about to throw the ball. They are calm, stable on their feet and are focused. They are anticipating the ball and how to catch it or block it. They are not overly concerned with getting hit by the ball.

If the player that you are assessing appears like he does indeed have some of the “experience” qualities mentioned above and just needs work to improve, you’re in good shape. Focus on fundamentals and repeat, repeat and repeat. That’s what separates good catchers from mediocre ones.