Catching is an important part of the softball game. The catcher on the softball field is tasked with a lot of tasks including catching pitches, blocking bat pitches and maintaining a direct line of communication with the pitcher through signals. In a way, the catcher is the most active member of a softball team.
Consequently, she or he has to be exceptionally well prepared, skilled in the role of catcher and experienced enough through rigorous practice. Following are some great tips to turn you from an amateur catcher to a seasoned professional
A catcher is the eyes and strategic brains behind the softball pitching team. If you are a catcher, make sure that you keep your eyes on the game and at the same time, communicate all your useful thoughts with other players on your team.
Shout if you must, use signals if that’s more convenient for you, but make sure that you are keeping the team in the loop with the details such as the score, the play, the runners etc.
Manage the pace of the game
As a catcher, you can make sure that if the opponent team is having a good spell, you can bring in your team for a quick consultation and buck them up for a better next round. A good way of doing this is to simply call time.
In the position of the catcher, you are most perfectly positioned to know exactly what kind of pitches work against a certain team and what kind of pitches are a disaster. So after a quick judgment, you can communicate to the pitcher your assessment and the pitcher can then alter her pitching accordingly.
Disagree with the umpire
If you disagree with the umpire behind you on a pitch, disagree respectfully. The umpire is situated right next to you in the position of the catcher. On a given pitch, you may disagree with this decision. For instance, if your pitcher throws a strike and the umpire doesn’t call it, that’s a sure disagreement.
But the best way to register your disagreement is to hold the ball for a few seconds longer and let the umpire know that you disagree. Anything more than that comes under disrespect.
Ignore any rude remarks
Learn to ignore any rude remarks by the batter or anyone else in the opponent team. If you pay attention, you are distracted and it’s your loss. You must be hard focused on the ball, on the game, on the pitcher and on the batter. Those are the things that make or break a softball game and focusing on them will help your team win the game.
Your glove should ideally be at the spot where the ball is going to arrive even before it arrives. In other words, you should anticipate the exact spot where the ball would arrive and keeping the glove held at the middle of the body.
When the ball is on its way, use your feet and legs to move your body so that your glove, remaining in the middle of the body, reaches exactly behind the ball. This is very useful because it confirms the exact location of the ball, both to your pitcher and to the umpire.
Smooth relationship with the umpire
Another way of building a smooth relationship with the umpire and a steady rhythm with your pitcher is to hold the ball in your glove for a set number of seconds before letting it go. This lets your pitcher know how well she is pitching and it lets the umpire calmly determine whether it’s a strike or not.
If you think the pitcher is good enough, start giving her smaller targets rather than presenting the whole glove. This will help your pitcher grow more and more accurate in her pitches.
Relationship with the pitcher
Develop a sound relationship with the pitcher. You must know her very well and you should ideally have practiced a huge number of hours with her.
Such a relationship lets you connect with the pitcher behind the batter and to adjust her performance by guiding her pitches with your glove movement. Even if the pitcher is making any mistakes, you can help her pitch better if you know her well enough.
Regular and rigorous practice
If you are a catcher, you need a lot of regular and rigorous practice. You should especially focus on practicing for squatting for long periods of time as you will mostly be squatting and getting up throughout the game.
The strength of your catching arm is also critical in ensuring your success as a catcher. Make sure to undertake relevant exercises to keep your catching arm in excellent and well-toned shape.
Make quick calculations and judgments
As a catcher, you need to be able to make quick calculations and judgments. You have to make real-time decisions as to whether to throw or not to throw. In many cases, throwing is simply not worth it and can even be detrimental to your own team.
In other cases, throwing is useful only if you do it within a second or so. So practice catching under different circumstances and develop an instinct of throwing or holding.
Throw at the right time
As a catcher, your job is to catch and to throw at the right time. Some catchers will be happy doing that much but you can aim to do more by bringing some style into the game. Develop unique signals with your pitcher, bring some slightly innovation into your style of catching.
You may even alter your catching in a way that it favors the umpire to judge the pitches more accurately, which will give your pitcher and the umpire the ease of mind that they are getting the right assessment on the pitches. It is precisely by going this extra mile and by putting in the extra bit of effort that a catcher goes from being good to exceptionally good and great.
Have a calm and relaxed stance in the game. Your movement to catch the pitch should also be relaxed, confident and calm. This confidence will automatically transmit to your pitcher as well as the rest of your team. So make sure that while you play role as a catcher perfectly, you do so with an easy confidence.