No one should expect youth baseball coaches to be experts on the game, but they should study up on the following, as most know little about it, and it is vital to a smooth running game.
It is somewhat ironic that the most important defensive position in baseball is the one that most baseball coaches know the least about. That is understandable because catching is a highly specialized position that only a few players play into their high school years, and once a catcher, rarely do they play other positions, because they are so valuable at that spot. Along those lines, position players often play most other positions at some time or another, but rarely the catching position, when not a true catcher.
Because most baseball coaches have little or no experience with the catching position, they must study this position or find an experienced catching coach to help with team catchers. The catching position is vital to a team's success, so coaches must be able to coach the basics of catching and be able to recognize the basic mistakes that youth catchers make. Following are the most common youth baseball catching mistakes that coaches should watch for.
First, it is important than coaches prioritize the three keys to catching: receiving the ball correctly, throwing runners out on steal attempts, and blocking balls in the dirt.
1. Setting up on the tiptoes this catching mistake puts players feet too close together and very imbalanced, with little lateral mobility.
Baseball Coaching Tip - Coaches should have players widen their feet, set their weight on the inside of their feet, and not up on the tiptoes. This helps catchers have lateral mobility, so they do not have to reach for most balls and so they do not get knocked over by pitches.
2. Setting glove target too high this catching mistake goes along with the above number one.
Baseball Coaching Tip coaches should have catchers set target as low as possible, which not only helps pitchers keep the ball down, but as with all fielding, it is easier to raise the glove to catch balls, than to lower it, which also helps to block dirt balls.
3. Setting glove to close to the body
Baseball Coaching Tip The glove should be set a comfortable distance away from their body, so hands are soft and flexible.
4. Chase pitches slightly off the plate most young catchers make clos pitches look a lot worse by moving the glove away from home plate, as they catch the ball.
Baseball Coaching Tip Coaching kids to "frame" the ball is necessary. This framing comes by having kids try to beat the ball to the spot and holding that spot, as the ball hits their glove. Of course, this is when much catching experience is necessary.
5. Incorrect receiving position with runners on base many young catchers either stay in the same catching position whether players are on base or not, or they set up too high limiting their ability to catch most pitches.
Baseball Coaching Tips Once catchers learn the correct setup position without runners on base, as talked about above, catchers must simply raise their rear end up slightly to put their weight more forward, helping them to have quick footwork for getting out of the catching position into throwing position.
6. Blocking balls in the dirt this skill takes a great amount of will power and practice.
Baseball Coaching Tip this is generally the area that an experienced catching coach is most necessary to coach the finer details of the position. The main thing coaches must help kids understand is that the key is to block the ball and that catching the ball is only a bonus on balls in the dirt. With that in mind, catchers must learn to center the ball, get to their knees quickly, and set their glove in between their knees, to keep balls from getting by them. This of course, means that catchers must be willing to let the ball strike some part of their protected body to keep balls from getting by them.
Once again, along with the pitching position, no position is more involved in the game than the catcher is, so it is vital that baseball coaches learn and coach these basics.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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