Drills Catchers Can Do in the Winter

Strength and conditioning lend themselves well to winter training. Defensive work? Not so much. But even when space is limited, there are still things catchers can be doing to make sure they’re at the top of their game from day one.

Andy Neal is the softball coach at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Va. and the Maroon Crush Showcase travel team.

He says there’s one important tool for helping catchers get through the winter — a tennis ball.

“I like to take tennis balls and throw at them to work on blocking skills,” Neal said. “We do a lot of just core work and stuff like that. Pitchers always have drills they do without a ball, and catchers are the same way. They’re always just working on blocking balls.”

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Joe Lackey, president of the Maroon Crush travel organization Virginia, agrees. He said he likes to get his pitchers to roll and toss balls to the catcher, which not only provides quality reps for the catcher but also helps them get to know their pitcher better.

Lackey said another drill catchers can do by themselves to improve blocking and lateral movement involves six balls.

  • Take six balls, space them out in about a four foot circle
  • From your catching stance “block” the ball to your left and quickly get back into your stance
  • Continue “blocking” the ball to your left as you continue around the circle of balls for one minute.
  • Rest two minutes and repeat
  • Do this drill both clockwise and counterclockwise for a total of eight reps

While doing the drill, Lackey said it’s important to work on speed in lateral movement while also keeping the chest low to the ground to snuff out any funny hops. This way, catchers can better understand body position while blocking.

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He said catchers should always stay conscientious about blocking balls in front of home plate instead of down the foul lines. Knowing how to angle your chest to keep the ball in front is another good thing to work on.

For instance, “If a ball is in the dirt on your right side, catchers should try to angle their chests back to the third base side of the field,” Lackey said.

Neal said that with enough space, pretty much anything you can do outside can also be done inside. He likes to use long hallways to work on simple catching and throwing.

That said, Neal said the most important thing catchers should be working on in the offseason is conditioning.

“Pitchers and catchers have to do so much,” Neal said. “They’re working every play where people in the field aren’t working every play. Many pitchers and catchers don’t realize how much work they do and how much conditioning needs to be done.”

Neal said one of his pitchers even runs cross country in the offseason, and she’s seen great improvement with her legs getting stronger so she doesn’t get as tired in games. This is something Neal now recommends to all of his players: Having a strong core and strong legs will help catchers be ready to go as soon as the season rolls around again.

From GameChanger and Cara Cooper.

Softball, Softball Player Development, Softball Tips & Drills

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