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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baseball Tips - Catchers - Just Let 'Er Rip!

Baseball Tips - Catchers - Just Let 'Er Rip!
By guest author: Chico Reese

Did you ever get to a game and as you're watching the players warm up you notice that the catcher seems to have a pretty good gun? He's snapping throws off to other players and throwing ropes in long toss. He just looks good.

Then the game starts. Well, inevitably, a guy with half descent speed gets on first and gets the steal sign and takes off on a following pitch. The catcher pops out of his crouch and throws an absolute rocket towards second base. However, it's too high and sails into centerfield.

The next thing you hear is the coach yapping away with things like:

•"Hey! Get it down! No one can do anything with that throw!"
•"Hey! Follow through!"
•"Hey! Throw down, not up!"
•"Hey! Get it down! I'd rather have it in the dirt instead of out there!"

All of the above is true, for the most part. If you've ever caught, you've probably heard good advice during a game and many times heard bizarre things that leaves you shaking your head. This is very true if you have a coach that doesn't know that much about catching and has never caught before either.

Later in the game, another guy gets on and steals. The catcher pops out of his crouch and fires off a...well, not a rocket, but a medium fast, arcing throw towards second.


It got there, but there was nothing on it. It didn't, however, end up in centerfield did it? But, how good is that throw anyway? And that's how the rest of his throws go. The catcher has been reduced from a kid throwing rockets before the game to a catcher who is taken a great deal of velocity off his throw and is now "aiming" his throws. It looks like he's throwing darts at times.

Here are a few baseball tips for you catchers, especially the young ones. Also, coaches should be thinking about these also.

First, catching is an explosive position. There are no big wind ups, long strides, and so on. Watch the pros. When someone steals the catcher fires up and just puts everything into a short, fast motion. The mask is usually flopping all over the place and the chest guard is flopping around. It has to be this way. That's how momentum is built up and released.

What can stop this explosiveness and produce crappy arcing throws?


Fear of what?


•There is a fear of failure.
•There is a fear of looking bad or stupid.
•There is a fear of getting yelled at during the game by a coach.

If you are a catcher and you have a fear of throwing , you better fix it and get over it because when the time comes, you "gotta let 'er rip"! Don't worry about overthrowing because of your velocity. Always, always, always throw hard!

What you need to do is focus on your footwork and your release and try not to aim or "throw darts", which will kill your velocity. You need to understand correct throwing mechanics and footwork. Learn them. Find someone knowledgeable who can teach you these things. The best thing is to get your hands on catching videos and DVDs showing proper throwing techniques. These are produced by college coaches and pros who know what they're talking about. You only need one or two. Watch them and then watch some major league games on TV and you'll see that the pros are doing exactly what you've watched on your tapes and DVDs.

So, learn and practice...over and over. You can never practice footwork too much. Once your footwork is correct and your release is correct you won't worry about overthrowing. Your velocity will still be there, probably better now. And as a catcher there are times when you do overthrow. Big deal! But, you have to feel what you just did, feel that your feet were too fast or too slow or feel that you were too far in front too fast, and so on. This comes only with knowledge and practice. Don't blame yourself for throwing too hard!

Overthrowing second base has nothing to do with throwing hard. You must know that as a young catcher. As a coach you should always encourage hard throws. Don't yell about the overthrow...make the catcher think about his feet and delivery. Go over it after the inning is over. If you've trained the catcher with proper footwork and delivery he should be able to tell you what went wrong with that throw. And it should never be, "I threw it too hard."

So keep your catchers throwing hard. You can prevent full potential by yelling about overthrowing. Remember, you overthrow second base by having bad mechanics for that particular throw, not throwing hard. That's as silly as telling a traffic cop that the reason you drifted through the stop sign was because you were going too slow.

On rare occasions, excessive thinking or fear of throwing can lead to the most devastating throwing "afflictions" you can ever witness or go through. This is the Steve Blass Disease or Sasser Syndrome. Sasser was a catcher for the Dodgers. There are other names for this but the most notable case in recent years was young pitcher Rick Ankiel of the St. Louis Cardinals.

So catchers and coaches, consider the baseball tips above for a little bit. Learn proper footwork and delivery and practice it over and over and over. Then you'll be very confident and not afraid to "just let 'er rip!" when you know someone just got the steal sign and is taking off on the very next pitch.

Chico Reese has been closely involved in youth baseball, softball and High School Baseball over the last twelve years and enjoys working with young catchers.

For excellent Catching instruction, drills, training and other valuable baseball tips, consider the following sources:

Catcher Instruction, Training and Tips To Make You A Better Catcher

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick