In softball, it’s not how good you are, but how good you want to be. With no shadow of a doubt, softball pitcher is the most important position in the field. It is also the position that is most difficult to learn. There are lots of grounds you need to cover including mechanics, grips, accuracy, velocity and the mental game. Hence why we are covering softball catcher drills that will help you get better at the game.
Catching is 85% mental and 15% physical, so you as a catcher need to work on thinking about the game more than playing a game. Softball catcher drills need to reflect that and mental preparation is just as important (and more) as a physical one. They don’t say for nothing that the softball pitcher’s motto is: “Stay calm and throw strikes.“
Regardless of that both physical and mental preparations require hard work and good training. Or as a great American softball player, Michele Smith would say: “I didn’t fall out of bed to become an Olympic champion. I worked hard, I was dedicated, and I worked to perfect all aspects of my game.“
So, without further ado, here are 8 softball catching drills you should know and integrate into your training:
Slides Drill – Softball Catcher Drills
This is one of the basic softball catcher drills for beginners. This drill teaches you how to replace your feet on the ground with your knees when you shift left or right to block the pitch.
- The body has to be in the right angle properly toward a home plate, while the left or right leg has to be thrown so the catcher slides into proper position.
- You repeat drill 10- 15 times in each direction
- As you improve, they can make the drill more and more challenging by tossing softballs gently to your left or right so you can practice blocking that pesky ball correctly.
The point of this fastpitch exercise is to counter the instinct to just block the ball with the glove. You do it properly when developing a habit where you are using the whole body to block the ball each time. The next progression of the drill is to incorporate the throw. So you block the ball and toss it to second base so you could throw the runner out.
Targeting Drill for Softball Catcher
Catcher’s job is also to present his/her softball gloves and itself for the pitcher to target with the right pitch.
- The catcher’s stance must remind the pitcher where to throw the ball. This also helps the pitcher too, so it’s one of the most important fast-pitch softball catcher’s drills.
- You as a catcher need to learn how to split the inside corner of the plate with the middle of your body to provide the frame of the target.
- Then hold your glove out to place the glove into the middle of your body from the pitcher’s perspective. The same procedure goes when the pitch is toward the other side of the plate.
Pop- Up Drills
To emphasize a wide range of functions that softball catcher need to master, you can just look (and spend and effort to learn and perfect) pop-up softball catcher drills. When batters hit that pop up the ball it’s often catcher’s job to get the ball for an easy out.
- You should crouch in position while your coach (or somebody who you practice) toss softball in the air in order for you to catch above your head.
- Sometimes there won’t be a time to remove the mask, so a further step is to catch that pop up with your mask on. This drill teaches you to recognize these short pop-ups and don’t waste your valuable time on removing the mask.
- Then you can move on fast-pitch softball catcher’s drills for high pop-ups. There it’s needed to learn how to remove your mask quickly, locate the ball in the air and throw the helmet out of the air properly so you don’t step on it and get hurt.
- You can also practice the drill when the pop-up is behind you so it needs to turn your back toward the infield for a high pop-up.
This drill is also good because the catcher learns to get his/her lower body right under the ball. When you need to extend the glove, it should develop you a habit of pulling the glove back into the chest protector to secure the ball in the glove. It’s mostly done in 4 to 5 sets of 5 reps each for a short pop-up, high pop-ups, and pop-ups behind the catcher. Also, pop-ups can be placed in a different location so catcher could practice locating the ball which isn’t so easy with short pop-ups.
Goblet Squat -Softball Catcher Drills
For a catcher, it’s important to withstand on his/her legs for a long time. This one is a great drill for building leg strength and developing a proper core alignment.
- You should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell (or dumbbell) with a hand on each of its horns (if it’s a dumbbell then you hold it in a vertical position with both hands under the top plate). They should flex your arms so your elbows point out and the weight is against the center of your chest.
- Then perform a squat where your weight should be over your heels and your lower back should be straight while not leaning forward with hips.
- Squat until your hips are below parallel or as close as you can get and then try to squat lower with every workout. When you are in the bottom position, elbows should be inside your thighs, pointing little down and toward the ground. Then, in the end, push with heels and return to the starting position.
- Do 4×5 reps with 8 explosive reps.
Rotational Med Ball Throw
When the catcher is on his feet, he needs rotational power to develop arm speed so he/she can make that hard throw to the base where the runner is heading. This drill is to develop that. Also, you can use a block wall as a re-bounder.
- You begin in a shoulder-width stance with your feet in a heel- to- toe alignment.
- The medicine ball should hold approximately at the naval level (right and top left).
- Then rotate your trunk, shoulders, arms, and head to one side as far as possible and immediately twist back in the opposite direction to throw the ball. You should mostly focus on rotating your feet, hips, and shoulders first and finishing with your upper body.
- You should do 3×6 sets and 10 reps with the focus on rotational speed.
Catcher’s Pick Off Drills
This is one drill that helps you pick off runners at 1st and 3rd. To execute it, you will need a little more people (you, pitcher third or first basemen and a batter) but it’s worth it.
- Have a pitcher is throwing a bucket of balls at you. He/She should not throw a hardball and throw them just over the plate.
- You need to do consistent work on low snap throws behind the batter.
- If you use the batter to hide behind, then coming up runners might not notice you as quick and you would have a better chance of picking them off.
- It’s also important that batter switches left-handed and right-handed positions so you could try both.
Although this is one of the softball drills that seem basic, it’s important and repetition of it really helps your game a lot.
This is one of most effective softball catcher drills for building muscle and speed. You should be in full softball catchers gear without softball glove.
- Take the stance with both hands behind your back. In a quick-paced motion, drop right knee, pick up left knee and be in your catching stance.
- You shouldn’t squat any higher than the position you originally started at.
- This drill is quick and effective, and beginners should start with about 10 knee drops and build it from there as the time passes.
Runners Running – Softball Catcher Drills
This one is fun and competitive and good not only as softball catcher drills but for the whole team.
- With runners standing at home, and first base coach (who is behind you) will toss the ball over your shoulder simulating a bunt.
- You should feel the bunt, decide which of runners to throw out and then make a throw.
- One point should go to defense if the runner gets thrown out at first and two points if the runner gets thrown at second. Offense earns one point for reaching second safely and a half-point for reaching first safely.
- Whichever team earns five points first wins.
Shadow Drill for Softball Catchers
This is one of the softball catcher drills that is very good for younger and older catchers to maintain being in excellent shape especially for warm weather and the long season that can take its toll on the catcher.
- Two catchers begin the drill in the full gear facing each other.
- One catcher begins as a leader and simulates typical catching motions (squatting, dropping to the knees for a wild pitch, catching the pitch and throwing down a runner) while the other one “shadows” all the motions.
- After about 3 minutes, take a small break and have the other catcher be a leader.
That would be some drills that can help you improve your softball catcher game. We hope that after reading this, you would at least find inspiration for practice and improve. But always remember, the point of the game is not how well an individual does but whether the team wins.
That is the beautiful part of the game, the blending of personalities, the mutual sacrifices for group success. You’ll forget the plays, the hits, the scores, but you’ll never forget your teammates.
We have come to the end of our article~ Let us know which drills are you intending to include in your training in the comment section below.
Do check out our previous article here which is on softball defensive drills. Keep going!
The post Top 8 Softball Catcher Drills You Should Know  appeared first on Awesome Softball Drills.