Of all the everyday positions in baseball and softball, Catcher may be the most important.  From pitch calling to setting the defense, it is the only position that is involved in every pitch of every game.  Which is why it is so important for catcher’s to be in the best possible game shape than anyone else on the diamond.

Without the consistent, everyday rhythm of the game, it can be challenging for catchers to stay in shape and keep up their strength, endurance, and their reflexes.  If you’re a catcher, here are some drills you can do at home by yourself to stay ahead of your competition.

1. STANCE DRILL

There are two stances that catchers may perform at different times throughout a game. Practice naturally moving into each of these stances:

Primary stance: you should be in a relaxed, squatted position with your legs spread slightly wider than your shoulders. Your glove should be at knee level, in the center of your body, and away from your chest.

Secondary stance: similar to the primary stance, but you should position your feet wider and hold yourself a little higher off the ground and angle your chest to the plate to block balls pitched in the dirt and when runners try to steal or advance to the next base.

DURATION:  5 Minutes

REPETITION:  Daily

 

2. MOCK THROWING MOTION

This simple drill is a great way to work on your throwing mechanics and accuracy.  Do this drill while down on one knee so you are only using your upper body.

While on one knee, practice taking the ball out of your glove and go through the motion of throwing the ball, without actually throwing it.  Start slowly, paying close attention to the natural motion of your arm.  Look at how high your hand is and how much you flex your wrist at the release point.  Take note of every single motion your arm takes from the minute you grab the ball out of your mitt to the point that you would release the ball on the throw.  Studying your own movements like this can help you understand how your body works and use your natural throwing motion to better your mechanics. 

As you hone in on your mechanics, start doing the drill at game speed.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Wilson A1010 HS1 Pro Series SST Baseball / All-Star Pro-Elite Exclusive Catcher’s Mitt

DURATION:  5 Minutes

REPETITION:  Daily

 

 

3. GRIP DRILL

Another simple drill that you can perform anywhere, even while just watching TV.

Get on the ground and set up some baseballs or softballs in front of you and to each side of you.  Now, from your knees, simply practice picking up the baseball and working on getting a strong 4-seam grip.  Practice doing this going for balls to each side and in front of you.

Doing this drill for a few minutes every day will make it so you gain the proper grip on the baseball quickly, making for a faster, more accurate throw to nail down those runners trying to steal a base.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT:  Wilson A1010 HS1 Pro Series SST Baseball / All-Star Pro-Elite Exclusive Catcher’s Mitt

DURATION:  5 Minutes

REPETITION:  Daily

 

4. THROW AT WALL DRILL

For this drill, you won't use your glove. You'll simply need a tennis ball and a flat surface. With the tennis ball in hand, stand away from a flat, clear wall, and throw the ball underhanded. Once the ball hits the wall, catch it with your throwing arm. This drill can help improve hand-eye coordination when it comes to fast incoming pitches.

DURATION:  5-10 Minutes

REPETITION:  Daily

 

5. POSITION THROWING

This can be done on a large, flat basement wall, but we recommend finding a flat wall outside if one is available.  This drill helps you practice fielding pitches in the dirt and balls that take a bad or short hop.

Grab your catcher’s mitt and a rubber baseball or softball and throw the ball low against the wall so it will bounce on the ground on its way back to you.  Now just try to catch it.  Vary how hard you throw the ball so you can practice fielding at faster and slower speeds.

This is a great drill to improve your hand-eye coordination as well as build up your reflexes.  We recommend trying this drill a couple times while wearing your catcher’s mask to simulate the field of vision you will have during a live ballgame.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT:  Wilson Soft Compression Baseball / Catcher's Mask

DURATION:  5 – 10 Minutes

REPETITION:  Daily

 

6. THROWING ACCURACY

This is a really good drill to do after the Mock Throwing Motion and Grip Drills as it combines the two and allows you to practice full-speed.

Go outside to a larger space and set up a target (preferably a net to catch errant throws) 90 feet away from you to simulate throwing down to 1st or 3rd base (127 feet to practice throwing to 2nd base).

Once you are set up, get into your squatting position and practice fielding the baseball from either the ground (as in the Grip Drill) or out of your glove (like in the Mock Throwing Drill), gripping it, and throwing to the target.  This tests how well you can transition the ball from your glove to your hand, your grip, your throw, and your accuracy, all from the starting catcher’s squatting position.  See if you can do all of this in less than a second while maintaining strong, accurate throws to each target.

If you are able, try doing this drill while wearing your chest protector and leg guards to better simulate how this feels during live play.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT:  Bownet Big Mouth X Portable Hitting Net / Wilson Adult C1K NOCSAE Catcher's Set

DURATION:  10 Minutes

REPETITION:  Every Other Day

 

7. BLOCKING DRILL

As a catcher, you need to be able to block a ball in the dirt at all times. To improve your blocking ability, perform the following two drills:

Set up 6 balls in a straight line,take your secondary stance, and drop into the blocking position. Then, get up and move to the next ball. Repeat.

Set up 8 balls in a rectangle, take your secondary stance, about 8" from the rectangle, and get up and field the balls as if they were bunted towards you. Move from left to right.

DURATION:  10 Minutes

REPETITION:  5x Per Day, 3 – 4 Times A Week

 

8. LADDER BLOCK DRILL

There may be no more important skill for a catcher to have than the ability to properly block a pitch in the dirt and recover in time to make a quick throw to a base if necessary.

Set up an agility ladder on a flat surface (grass or field turf preferred).  Start on one side of the ladder, and get down into your blocking position (if you are able to have a partner, have them throw balls in your direction so you can actually block them).  Then quickly do side-steps across the agility ladder, being sure to get both feet inside each box of the ladder before moving on to the next box.  Once at the end of the ladder, get down into your blocking position, then pop up and side-step across the agility ladder in the opposite direction.  Repeat this drill between three and five times while wearing full catcher’s gear.

This helps not only perfect your blocking technique, but helps build up your reflexes to make you more agile to quickly pop up from the ground to make a throw, or pop up to run down a ball that may trickle away from you.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT:  Trigon Pro Agility Ladder

DURATION:  10 Minutes

REPETITION:  5x Per Day, 3 – 4 Times A Week

 

9. LINE FOOTWORK DRILL

Catchers need to be able to start off on the right foot. For this drill, pop up from your secondary stance, turn your feet as though you're going to throw the ball, and have both of your feet land on the center line. This exercise can help improve your footwork.

DURATION:  5 Minutes

REPETITION:  Every Other Day

 

10. AGILITY DRILLS

A catcher needs to be flexible, reflexive, and capable of quickly moving from one position to the next. To build strength and improve agility, there are four exercises you can do:

  1. Scissors: Practice crisscrossing your legs and alternating one leg in front of the other to improve strength and flexibility.
  2. Hop: Stand with your feet front to back, and hop-forward in a straight line, like a bunny hop. 
  3. Squat Turns: While squatting, hop and turn every hop (90 degrees) until you have gone in a full circle. Do 10 turns of 3 turns each (360 degrees)
  4. Jump Rope: Jump rope with both feet for a minute, then switch to jumping rope with only your left foot touching the ground for one minute, then switch to jumping rope with only your right foot touching the ground for a minute, and lastly, practice jumping rope while alternating feet between every jump for two minutes

DURATION:  10 Minutes

REPETITION:  5x Per Day, 3 – 4 Times A Week

 

Staying in shape as a catcher during extended downtime can be difficult, but doing each of these drills on a consistent basis will have you ready to take the field as soon as the umpire decries, “Play Ball.”

And if you find you are in the need of an equipment upgrade, Baseball Express has you covered.  Whether it be new leg guards, chest protectors, masks, or full catcher sets, Baseball Express has what you need from brands like Easton, All-Star, Mizuno, and Rawlings.  We also have an extensive collection of catcher’s mitts, including a new exclusive All-Star Pro Elite Series Glove with special color-ways and lacing.

So make sure that not only is your body and skills game ready, but your equipment is game ready too.

 

MORE TRAINING AT HOME DRILLS

 

*Video c/o Nuke Baseball