Teaching young players how to catch a baseball can be done in a short time frame, when people know what to do and the principles of catching a ball. This process should begin when players are young to avoid them getting plunked by the ball. Once a youngster is hit due to not knowing how to catch a baseball, they may not want to continue playing the game because the ball hurts!
Catching a baseball correctly is based on the principle of using two hands when players can line the ball up inside their feet and shoulders, and the glove hand only when players have to reach outside their body for balls. It is quicker and more balanced to catch the ball with the glove only when reaching for balls, before zipping the ball to the bare hand for throwing. The one handed only play is especially important when moving fast for batted balls. The only exception on the line drive that is just slightly off to the players throwing side, where two hands are acceptable, even when they cannot line the ball up inside the body.
Of course, it is not wise to teach two-handed catch until players prove they can catch the ball correctly with the glove. This correct method has the elbow out to the side and fingers up for balls caught in front of them.
As seen in this video, a great number of repetitions are possible in a short period. I have taught many young ball players to catch in a few short sessions with this coaching method. These drills also help develop quick hands as players must take the ball out quickly to be ready for the next toss.
To begin with, it is important that the balls rise up towards players and not on a downward arc, as often is the case when playing catch with young players. In addition, playing regular catch puts beginning and inexperienced players in danger of being struck by the ball. When coaches have to lob the ball, creating a downward arc on the ball, players never learn to catch the ball correctly, as it only makes sense to turn the fingers under as in catching ground balls. Thus the reason the coach sits on the knee flipping balls on a line and up towards the player. Players who turn the glove the incorrect way, with the fingers pointing down, often get struck by the ball.
With that in mind, it is best to use a softer ball with young players when coaching them on how to catch a baseball. That, however, is exactly the point of the drill, as players begin to understand the importance of the fingers up and the elbow out to the side. Balls below the waist, but above the knees, are caught with the fingers up in this drill by bending the knees.
The next step is learning to catch on the move so balls are now flipped further to the side, making players move to catch them. As seen here, players try to get in front of the ball by shuffling in front of it and catching with two hands or practice stepping to the ball and catching with the glove only. I begin these drills by letting players know where the ball will be tossed. As players become better at catching, balls are flipped without knowing where it is going, which helps develop quicker feet, also.
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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