Improve your game and strengthen your skills behind the dish with these helpful tips from Avalon baseball’s starting catcher Dan Searles.
By Daniel Searles
One of the best ways to affect a baseball game is to catch well and, by accurate maneuvers, persuade the umpire that borderline pitches are strikes.
One of the best feelings a catcher can experience is knowing that he made the pitcher better that day by getting him a few strikes called. On the flip side, as a catcher, you can quickly take the game down a bad path by losing your pitcher’s strikes and prolonging their innings.
Unfortunately, when the catcher loses strikes, the pitcher’s job becomes harder and the batter benefits greatly.
The first thing you need to do when receiving a pitch is make sure you get your thumb under the baseball. This will stop the ball where it hits your glove. If you don’t stop the ball where it hits the mitt then the ball will carry your glove. This action will take the ball out of the strike zone, even if the pitch was a strike in the first place.
By keeping the ball stuck in its path, you help give the umpire a better visual of the pitch’s location. A better visual for the umpire, means a better chance of getting a strike called.
Next, you need to subtly keep the ball in the strike zone, and frame the pitch with your glove. Successfully framing a pitch is not a major move with your glove, but simply a slight glove turn.
If the pitch is way out of the zone, and you jerk your glove back into the strike zone, it could insult the umpire, and may create distrust in your relationship with him. This will normally result in the strike zone shrinking.
Basically, you don’t want to try to trick the umpire on balls. The best thing to do on pitches that are obviously a “ball” is to just catch the ball and throw it right back. Remember, we’re concerned about making borderline pitches called strikes, not stealing pitches way out of the zone.
The catcher’s performance, even down to the slightest maneuvers, enhances or burdens his pitcher’s outing. For the best opportunity to help your pitcher get more strikes, be sure to get your thumb under the baseball and stop it. Don’t forget to add a slight turn towards the strike zone too. And with obvious balls, just throw them back without fanfare.