There’s obviously much more to the position of catcher than throwing down a signal and sticking out your glove. However, the first job of a catcher is to catch the ball. Catchers who separate themselves from the pack are able to pick up an extra strike for their pitcher every chance they get.
Since receiving is such an important part of catching—and it can be vital to your team’s success—it is imperative to perform catcher drills that improve receiving pitches on the inside and outside corners, where you will have opportunities to pick up extra strikes instead of balls.
Note: for the purposes of these drills, assume the hitter is right handed. It’s best to perform the drills without a glove. To further improve your soft hands, use tennis balls or wiffle balls.
Angled Receiving Drill 1
The Angled Receiving Drill teaches you to catch pitches on the corners while keeping them in the strike zone. Start by facing the pitcher’s mound in a secondary receiving stance. Position a coach or partner 10 to 15 feet from home plate, halfway between the mound and the first base line. Have your partner throw underhand tosses towards your left knee, which works for receiving inside pitches. Keep your upper body still while using your lower body to sway toward the right-handed hitter and catch the ball before it leaves the strike zone.
After performing eight to 10 reps working on receiving the inside pitch, have your partner switch sides to work on outside pitches by throwing from halfway between the mound and the third base line and tossing toward your right knee.
Angled Receiving Drill 2
In this variation, adjust your position. Begin by squaring up to third base in a secondary stance with your right shoulder facing your partner, who is positioned 25 to 30 feet from home plate in front of the pitcher’s mound. Have your partner throw the ball to your left knee to simulate inside pitches. Beat the ball to the spot and receive it with your left elbow relaxed and pointing to the ground and your left thumb pointing to a one o’clock position. Before the next throw, rotate three to six inches towards the mound. Your goal is to receive five to six pitches before being square to the mound.
After receiving an inside pitch while square to the mound, begin the sequence again facing first base. Your partner should now aim for your right knee to simulate outside pitches. Be sure to catch the ball with your left elbow up and your thumb pointing to the ground. Again, work your way back to a square position facing the mound.
Performing these two Angled Receiving Drills can help you be the difference between strike three and ball four.