A wild pitch may be rare, but its effect on a game can be devastating. Catchers need to develop proper blocking mechanics, and two of the ways we achieve this are by developing highly controlled body movements, and then drilling them over and over again at high speeds.
Three Ball Blocking Drill
This drill, as the name would suggest, utilizes three balls, one in the middle, and one on each side of home plate. The semi-circular placement of the balls is designed to remind the catcher to funnel the ball back toward home plate. Have your catcher set up in the middle of the plate in high alert position. The coach or teammate then points to one of the three balls in front of the catcher, who goes through the motions of blocking that ball as if it were speeding towards him. He then immediately pops back up, and returns to the high alert position in the middle of the plate. This can be done in sets of varying length depending on the physical ability of the catcher - the more work a catcher needs on body control while blocking the more you can string the reps together. Of course, this is not the same as being hit with live balls, or blocking in a bullpen setting, but there’s a tremendous benefit in being able to get high repetitions, which is what this drill allows for. If a catcher can maintain body position while doing multiple reps, they will be able to maintain body control in a game setting.
Speed Blocking Drill
For coaches looking to more closely replicate the experience of blocking in a game setting, try this Speed Blocking Drill, which focuses on stamina, body control, and good form, as well as, of course, speed. Have your catcher set up in the middle of the plate in high alert position. A coach or teammate sets up 15-20 feet away, and throws the ball at about half speed towards the catcher. This can be adjusted to increase difficulty by adding distance, velocity or both. It can also be enhanced by varying the direction of the throws and having the catcher block to the left and right as well. Starting off, shoot for 5 consecutive blocks, and then adjust the number of reps as your catchers improve. One thing we love about this drill is that it’s especially effective at helping some catchers who may be afraid of blocking with their bodies.