Baseball Catching Tips-No Stealing
One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the stolen base. As catchers, we take base stealing personally. Even though we know that bases are stolen on the pitcher, it is our job to defend our hurler against this theft. We are the guard dogs on the porch. Quiet, confident and ready to tear up anyone who tries to invade our world. The baseball catching tips provided by Coach G are the training we need to be ready when the thief approaches.
Introducing Coach G.
This post is part two of our ongoing series about the catching position with guest coach Greg Creager. Coach G. will impart upon on his wisdom about the secondary position for catchers. Based on his lifelong passion for baseball and the catching position. A former D1 catcher, now a youth baseball coach and partner at the Fort Smith Baseball Academy, Coach Creager is dedicated to helping educate coaches everywhere so they can prevent years of bad habits at the catching position. The secondary position is what catchers need to be able to block balls and prevent steals.
The secondary position is what catchers need to be able to block balls and prevent steals. This position is crucial for any level of baseball, especially once stealing is allowed. Players must master this stance at an early age to be successful.
Coach G’s words of wisdom
So, last week I posted about coaching catchers. It seemed very well received and got a lot of good feedback, so I’m happy to continue this weekly post. Here is Coach G’s second catching tip of the week.
Since we talked about the primary position last week, and determined that the primary position is for no runners on with a chance of stealing and less than two strikes, it’s only appropriate that we talk about the secondary position.
The secondary position
Catcher’s use the secondary position when there are runners on with a chance of stealing and also when there are two strikes on the batter. From the signal position after giving the sign, once the pitcher comes set, you want to increase the width of your stance, inside of your heels should be outside your hips, with the right foot slightly back. You should have the toe lined between the arch of your left foot and heel. You want a good angle with your chest over the knees, butt up with femur and tibia at a 90-degree angle, and back should be at a 45-degree angle.
This posture will allow you to stay linear if you need to make the throw on a steal attempt instead of popping straight up. It also puts you in a good position to block on an errant throw. Having too much offset will not allow you to block a pitch in the dirt squarely and will cause the ball to bounce off you at an angle.
Your throwing hand should be 1 of 2 places, either behind the glove or on top of your thigh, so it is a quick transfer if you are throwing. With everyone always concerned about catcher POP times, if you want to see those drop, then this stance is what can help tremendously. Just like in the Bible, The Church of Baseball says “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”
Importance of pop times
As with most things in the game of baseball catcher, pop time is a stat that makes people feel like they can measure a players ability. Obviously, there is a significance to the time, so we track it. A pop time is the measurement of the time it takes for a catcher to receive a ball and get the ball to a base. In most cases, we keep this stat for throws to second base.
For a pro level catcher, anything under two seconds is considered an excellent time. A good college catcher should have a pop time of fewer than 2.1 seconds. High school catchers should be shooting for something below 2.2 seconds. A J.V. catcher under 2.4 is considered good.
I would like to point out that I didn’t give a measurement for anything under the age of 14 or 15 because applying measurements like velocity (using a radar gun), running speed (stopwatch timing) and pop time (stopwatch timing) don’t matter when we are talking about players who have not physically matured. We have all seen the kid that throws hard in Little League get lit up on the big diamond all the way through high school because he doesn’t develop as much as the other kids. Adding the pressure of needing to reach a number will make young kids frustrated if they are at their physical limit already.
The other half of stolen bases
Pop times are only half of the equation for throwing runners out though. The other half is how long the pitcher takes to get the ball to the catcher. A catcher with a long deliberate motion will give base runners of a head start to steal. Base runners and coaches also like to steal bases when they think a pitcher is going to throw an off-speed pitch, so they get more of a head start.
If a battery (pitcher and catcher combined) can keep their equation total under 4.o, they have a good chance of throwing out a lot of runners. The equation would be “Time to Plate” + “Pop Time” < 4.0 seconds.
Getting catchers in a good physical position will aid them in lowering their pop time. Having proper throwing mechanics will help as well. Working with kids at an early age will help them when it comes time for them to shine. As the runner breaks and the game gets faster, position and mechanics will take over. If you have taught them right, any potential base stealer will know better than even to try. Thou shalt not steal.
If you missed the first post in this series be sure to check it out. Baseball Catcher-most needed player