With the speed and movement that characterize today's game of baseball, catchers need to be as quick as a cat behind the plate. And we don't mean Garfield, the fat, lazy fur ball of comic strip fame. We're talking the tomcat that pounces on an unsuspecting mouse in a split second.
According to Doug Jarrow, strength and conditioning coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, cat-like agility factors into everything a catcher does, from blocking balls in the dirt to fielding bunts and throwing out runners.
"The catcher position is regarded as a slow positionbut no catcher wants to be known for having slow feet," Jarrow says. "Since they are squatting down hundreds of times a day, it's important that their agility training mimic that position, so they learn how to come out of their stance and react quickly."
If you want to have quick moves behind the plate, try Jarrow's Half Moon Catcher Drill. The Dodgers perform it twice a week in the off-season.
Half Moon Catcher Drill
- Place 10 balls in a half-moon pattern eight feet from home plate and spaced evenly from one another
- Get in catcher's stance with your glove raised
- Explode out of stance, field one of the balls and throw it to first base
- Walk back and get in set stance; repeat until you've fielded all 10 balls
- Perform second set throwing to second base
- Perform third set throwing to third base
Rest: Use walk back between reps and set-up between sets as rest time
Benefit: Though this drill replicates fielding a bunt, it also works on increasing your foot quickness for all aspects of catching.
Adaptation: Have a partner play the base to which you're throwing, so you have a target. Also, number the balls 1-10, from left to right. When you explode out of your stance, field and throw the number ball your partner calls out.
Benefit: Having a partner to throw to helps your accuracy. Numbering the balls and having your partner call them out makes the drill more realistic, because, in games, you don't know where you'll be fielding a ball.
Don't take a drop step when you come out of your stance // Get out of your stance as quickly and as powerfully as possible // The drill is not a constant movement; make sure you take your time between reps so you can give full effort // Concentrate on making crisp throws to the base // As you come out of your stance to field the ball, keep your knees bent and stay low, so your throw doesn't lack power
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