“How to practice catching softball by yourself” – This is one of the more frequently asked questions for catchers who want to improve themselves when official team training is not on.
Why practice catching softball alone?
There are many situations where maybe your coach or your team won’t be available to help with practice. Maybe it’s a holiday season and there is no team training available? Maybe you can’t practice for some reason and want to get in shape? Perhaps you just want to improve your catching through some softball catching drills? Or maybe the weather conditions such as a thunderstorm or even winter is stopping your usual practice? Or you are bored alone at home and have nothing to do.
Anyway, whatever the reason is, there is no shame in striving to improve yourself and be better, it’s even commendable. However, lacking somebody to guide you like a coach, or proper teammates to practice is a big minus. Don’t worry though, we got you covered.
Importance of practicing catching by yourself
To be successful in anything, not just softball, you must practice, practice and then practice some more. Many young players fail to grasp the importance of practice time, not just with the team but by themselves also.
Sometimes, instead of relying on coaches to give you a proper training plan, you as a player should create your practice habit to coincide with games and team workouts. Activities may be just as simple as repetitively throwing that ball at the wall.
Here are some softball drills for catching you can do while you are alone:
Softball catching drills you can do it by yourself
- Grab a tape
- Find a suitable brick wall
- Mark a wall with a tape
- Throw the ball at the wall and catch it with your softball glove
It’s one of the easiest softball catching drills around. You don’t need anyone for it and it will improve your catching quite a bit. Just toss gently the ball to the large wall and use the opportunity to practice your fielding when it bounces back to you.
You can throw directly at the wall to practice ground balls, throw it to the ground so the ball can deflect up, hit the wall and bounces up so you could practice fielding pop flies.
The tape is there for you to practice accuracy. If you want different angles of rebound then ignore it and throw the ball so it can bounce that way. You can even try to hit it so it would travel far so you could practice feet movement and speed.
Potential training locations: Anywhere, even your home. Just make sure there are no fragile objects in your training area.
Pop-ups using a tennis racket
- For this, you will need a tennis racket(check out a cheap but good racket if you can’t borrow one), a tennis ball(s), a softball faceguard and one softball glove
- Put on your softball faceguard
- Take the tennis racket and hit the ball vertically up the air with your softball glove on
- Let go of the racket on soft ground, natural or man-made, immediately
- As the ball falls, try to catch it with your glove hand
- Repeat the drill
Even though it sounds silly, this softball drill will do wonders for catching pop-ups. Just use a tennis racket, hit the ball up in the air and catch it. This is a great way of consistently hitting pop-ups and the ball in the air will be influenced by the wind so it will make a good challenge to catch it.
Potential training locations: Anywhere that has a high ceiling or open area.
Hand-eye coordination drills
- This drill only requires you, softball and a small baton
- Toss a softball from one hand to the other
- Moving on to the next level, find a small baton and try to flip it one-handed, catching it clean each time.
- Toss the ball short distance in the air and catch it
- All 3 drills to be practiced at least one hundred repetitions a day
- Repeat drill
- One round of this drill should only take about 15 mins
Softball relies on flawless execution, especially when playing defense. Catching a ball with your softball glove, then transfer it to your throwing hand, then completing the throw, requires big hand-eye coordination skill.
But don’t worry, you can even practice it at home using this very simple softball drill. Just take a softball and toss it back and forth from one hand to the other. Or just throw it in the air and catch it. Or find a small baton or a stick, try flipping it and catch it cleanly. All will do great for your hand-eye coordination.
Long and short throwing
- Set up a small target, around 1-2 feet wide
- Put lots of softball balls in the bucket
- Stand 25 feet away from the target and throw balls at it
- After 10-15 throws, move another 25 feet and start throwing again
Maybe you can’t play catch alone as you can do it in softball practice with your team, but you sure can work on your throwing motion and accuracy. This is also a pretty simple drill, you just need to set up a target and have lots of softball ball that you can throw to it.
25 feet mark is for short throwing, every time you move away you will need to throw longer and longer which will improve your long throwing skills. This is one of the softball throwing drills that will help you maintain accuracy while developing muscle memory for all ranges you need to throw that ball.
Agility footwork drill
- Draw a straight line to work for
- Wear a full youth softball catcher gear sets but without a catcher’s mask
- Cross your legs alternating one leg in front of other
- Similar to a skier, your two feet should be side to side
- Two feet go from front to back
- Hop with both of them over the straight line you draw
- Do 3 sets, 20 repetitions a piece
There is nothing better than agility drills to help you build strength and agility. Back press drill and weight shift drill are one of them. Catchers need to be able to shift positions from a squat quickly when a runner tries to steal a base. Faster reflexes would help you to do that.
Catcher position throwing
- Wear a catchers mitt
- Squat in a position
- Throw a tennis ball at the wall so it bounces on the ground on the way back
- Try to catch it
- Repeat drill
This is a variation of wall bounce drill we mentioned before. Over time, you can throw a tennis ball harder at the wall so it would bounce back faster. This drill is graduate one so in time it will become easier for you to field balls which would take difficult bounces.
This drill can also be practiced before the game to improve reflexes. It will also improve your hand-eye coordination and make it easier for you to field ground balls.
Sign-giving stance. Be relaxed and rest on your toes, with knees tight and close together because widening the knees can give away the signs given to the pitcher.
Primary stance. Spread your legs wider than the shoulders with your softball glove at the knee level. You will use this stance at the beginning of each inning when there are no runners on base.
Secondary stance. Squat deeper and protect your throwing arm by holding it behind your back. This you will use when there are runners to the base. Your chest should be angled to the base for blocking balls pitched in the dirt and when throwing to bases when a runner tries to steal or advance.
These are three basic stances which you will assume at different times of the game. Most of your drills should be performed in one of these stances. Just remember not to squat on the balls of your feet when you are in one of them.
Right-left then throw
- Take a right-left step
- Tap your softball glove to the ground between your legs
- Keep the other hand over your glove and pretend that you caught the ball off the ground
- Bring the ball into your body, and step through with your right leg moving across your body, followed by your left on a sideway
- As you do right-left stride, bring your arm with the “invisible ball“ in the throwing position
This softball drill is nice for your leg work as a catcher. You are not only practicing fielding the ground ball but also getting into the throwing position immediately after.
Now that you know how to practice catching softball by yourself…
As you could see, practicing catching alone is not that hard. Most of the drills we recommended for you to do are simple to execute, and yet it will benefit you in the long run.
Through practice, no matter how simple they look, it will create you a habit that will reflect when you are in practice with your team or in the softball game itself. Repetition is great and will make you so adept in movements you need that you will be amazed how easy you can perform them when it matters.
If you are really dedicated to improving your catching skills, why wouldn’t you practice if your time allows it? Heck, even if your time doesn’t, softball drills such as “hand-eye coordination“ can be done while you are doing something else like watching TV. Try it, and see the difference when it comes naturally later on.
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