Need advice for catcher trying to get to the next level

Welcome to Discuss Fastpitch

Your FREE Account is waiting to the Best Softball Community on the Web.

Aug 8, 2022
6
3
My DD is a 14U player moving up to 16U in the Fall. She started catching almost 2 years ago. She has had limited game time but has been working a lot on her own to get better. She’s a player that’s been playing catch-up for some time now and has made great strides. She’s currently the second catcher, second 3rd base, plays outfield when needed and her coach wants her working middle infield too. It’s a lot. She works pretty much every day, quite a bit on batting and recently, mostly on fielding for 3rd and middle infield. She was trying to get in the starting lineup any way she could. The first catcher is absolutely better than her, probably the best player on the team, so she wasn’t going to start as catcher.

Well, it just so happens that the first catcher got injured going into PGF Nationals, they played the Premier division. So, in she went and played every inning as catcher all week – what a great opportunity for her - she almost doubled her lifetime catcher play time in one week. In many ways, she did amazing. She was literally a wall behind the plate, nothing going by her or dropped with a great drop ball pitcher who is notoriously hard to catch.

But, it became obvious what she needs to work on and I’m hoping you all can have some advice for her.
  • She needs to improve the velocity of her throw. Her throw and pop-time are fine but not great. She seems to be able to throw her own players out in practice but this past week she was not throwing girls out, many were close, but that only counts in horseshoes. I’ve seen the posts on the high level throwing method. Is there a catcher-specific one? Is that where we should go? It’s expensive so I want to make sure it’s worth the $$.
  • Because she has such little actual game time, I think having the batter there to throw around and the pressure of nationals threw her off her game a little. Any ideas of how to simulate game situations outside of games/team practice? They don’t typically work throws with batters in practice and I doubt she will get much more game time as the first catcher comes back until she gets better. Typically, she catches 1 game a tournament.
  • She will sometimes get what I’ll call the “yips” in her throwing. She typically has a good throw and is accurate. She’s had some great pickoffs and when playing 3rd always has a great throw. But every once in a while at catcher, she gets in her head and her mechanics are lost. Every pickoff attempt is wild. Well, that happened this week and I think because of the pressure of nationals and this being her “chance” to show what she can do, she couldn’t shake it. Any ideas on how to shake these “yips” in the moment. It's all mental, if she can just go practice 30 throws, I think it helps but pretty impossible during the game.
Finally, I’d appreciate any advice you might have around where she should be focusing her efforts. Perhaps it’s just too late to get to the level she needs to be at to be a catcher at this level. Should she throw in the towel? It seems like an endless circle. She needs game time to get better and she won’t get game time until she’s better.

She LOVES this game and I think could be great. She’s had some tough obstacles (I could write a book) thrown her way over the years and always just keeps working. I’m so proud of her and want to help her any way I can to be successful.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I appreciate any advice you can provide!
 

RADcatcher

Possibilities & Opportunities!
Dec 13, 2019
6,643
113
California
Catching is a technical position and takes application to the technical in the technique.
Along with that
One of the most important things for a catcher to do is game time experience behind the plate.
Simply because there's a lot going on behind the plate with the batter in front of them also developing reaction time to runners.

My DD is a 14U player moving up to 16U in the Fall. She started catching almost 2 years ago. She has had limited game time but has been working a lot on her own to get better. She’s a player that’s been playing catch-up for some time now and has made great strides. She’s currently the second catcher, second 3rd base, plays outfield when needed and her coach wants her working middle infield too. It’s a lot. She works pretty much every day, quite a bit on batting and recently, mostly on fielding for 3rd and middle infield. She was trying to get in the starting lineup any way she could. The first catcher is absolutely better than her, probably the best player on the team, so she wasn’t going to start as catcher.

Well, it just so happens that the first catcher got injured going into PGF Nationals, they played the Premier division. So, in she went and played every inning as catcher all week – what a great opportunity for her - she almost doubled her lifetime catcher play time in one week. In many ways, she did amazing. She was literally a wall behind the plate, nothing going by her or dropped with a great drop ball pitcher who is notoriously hard to catch.

But, it became obvious what she needs to work on and I’m hoping you all can have some advice for her.
  • She needs to improve the velocity of her throw. Her throw and pop-time are fine but not great. She seems to be able to throw her own players out in practice but this past week she was not throwing girls out, many were close, but that only counts in horseshoes. I’ve seen the posts on the high level throwing method. Is there a catcher-specific one? Is that where we should go? It’s expensive so I want to make sure it’s worth the $$.
  • Because she has such little actual game time, I think having the batter there to throw around and the pressure of nationals threw her off her game a little. Any ideas of how to simulate game situations outside of games/team practice? They don’t typically work throws with batters in practice and I doubt she will get much more game time as the first catcher comes back until she gets better. Typically, she catches 1 game a tournament.
  • She will sometimes get what I’ll call the “yips” in her throwing. She typically has a good throw and is accurate. She’s had some great pickoffs and when playing 3rd always has a great throw. But every once in a while at catcher, she gets in her head and her mechanics are lost. Every pickoff attempt is wild. Well, that happened this week and I think because of the pressure of nationals and this being her “chance” to show what she can do, she couldn’t shake it. Any ideas on how to shake these “yips” in the moment. It's all mental, if she can just go practice 30 throws, I think it helps but pretty impossible during the game.
Finally, I’d appreciate any advice you might have around where she should be focusing her efforts. Perhaps it’s just too late to get to the level she needs to be at to be a catcher at this level. Should she throw in the towel? It seems like an endless circle. She needs game time to get better and she won’t get game time until she’s better.

She LOVES this game and I think could be great. She’s had some tough obstacles (I could write a book) thrown her way over the years and always just keeps working. I’m so proud of her and want to help her any way I can to be successful.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I appreciate any advice you can provide!
What type of catching specific work is she doing? Have you had her with a catching instructor? I know once I get through working on basic form of catching and receiving pitches along with defensive agility behind the plate working on throwing is a main priority. How much detail to technical throwing mechanics are you putting in to improve the throwing yips?

It is hard to review where she is at on the level of her play without video that would be helpful for feedback.

Also it appears that for some reason the coach wants her to do all these different positions and if she wanted to focus on catching you can't do everything equally well if you're spreading yourself around 25% at each position.
So the question becomes how much detail is she putting into catching?
Catching pitchers weekly?
How often working on throws from catching squat?

( not sure if what the travel ball coach is utilizing her at is actually what her personal goal is. How would you respond to that?)
 
Dec 2, 2013
2,787
113
Texas
I would recommend finding a local catcher specific coach and start with weekly lessons. If you are in Socal, get with @RADcatcher. Reps, Reps and more Reps along with proper feedback.

Pop time is not necessarily all arm strength. Feet work and transfer can improve pop time.

I have seen many D1 catchers that can't nail the throw down every time.
 
May 29, 2015
2,640
113
I think the key question asked above was "What are her personal goals?"

You said she "was trying to get into the lineup any way possible." That actually is a fantastic characteristic. I can't speak for all coaches, but smart coaches look for players who will help the team in as many ways as possible. They also look for players that are coachable and not already set in stone.

Many athletes have heard the infamous, "Well, we just don't really see you as ["your" position], but we think you could help the team if you are willing to {insert new challenge here}." At that point you can pull a Tim Tebow and quit or you can do what you are there to do: play.

That said, I'm not going to say she couldn't become a solid catcher. She certainly can with experience and technical work. I'm thinking she has valuable experience already and could provide more value in being a solid utility player who is going to help the team any way possible.
 
Aug 8, 2022
6
3
What type of catching specific work is she doing? Have you had her with a catching instructor? I know once I get through working on basic form of catching and receiving pitches along with defensive agility behind the plate working on throwing is a main priority. How much detail to technical throwing mechanics are you putting in to improve the throwing yips?

It is hard to review where she is at on the level of her play without video that would be helpful for feedback.

Also it appears that for some reason the coach wants her to do all these different positions and if she wanted to focus on catching you can't do everything equally well if you're spreading yourself around 25% at each position.
So the question becomes how much detail is she putting into catching?
Catching pitchers weekly?
How often working on throws from catching squat?

( not sure if what the travel ball coach is utilizing her at is actually what her personal goal is. How would you respond to that?)
She sees a private coach about once a week, 30 minutes on hitting and 30 minute on something else. This summer it's been a lot of work on fielding and footwork. 3rd base was new to her. Once she knew she would catch at nationals she did a couple lessons just working catching. She also caught a friend's pitching lesson every other week for about a year but that stopped as the pitcher was no longer doing lessons.
She has not worked as much on the technical throwing piece.
I'll DM you some video from nationals to get your take.
Her goal is to play, wherever she's needed. She'd like to play college ball. 2 years ago she saw an opportunity at catcher as the team didn't really have a viable 2nd catcher. Worked hard and there she is. She saw an opportunity for 3rd. Worked hard and got herself as 2nd in line for 3rd base. At one point the team needed outfielders so she worked that and played a bunch there for awhile. She's not particularly speedy so does not consistently play there. One tournament some girls were going to be gone on bracket day so after pool play, she went and worked fly balls for 2 hours to be ready if she was put in the outfield.
She is definitely being pulled in many directions. This is why I think if she can get her throw velocity better, it helps everywhere.
Thanks for the help, please keep it coming.
 
May 1, 2018
659
63
The catcher's throw is different than any other throw on the field. Make sure she is not using her 3rd base arm motion to catch.....it's hard to change and takes tons and tons of reps. But you can see someone who played catcher 20 yrs later with that arm motion still.
 
Jan 22, 2011
1,250
83
My favorite source is if you can get to a The Catching Camp roadtrip. There is one near Oakland, CA on Oct 8/9th.

Wasserman has some catcher specific information. He has a $40 Catcher HLT book. His coaches training class spends time on catchers. www.highlevelthrowing.com

Here is a short video from catcher's con.
 
Aug 8, 2022
6
3
The catcher's throw is different than any other throw on the field. Make sure she is not using her 3rd base arm motion to catch.....it's hard to change and takes tons and tons of reps. But you can see someone who played catcher 20 yrs later with that arm motion still.
I had no idea, she probably does but I didn't. Do you happen to have a visual of a 3rd base motion vs. a catcher motion? Thank you!
 
May 27, 2022
176
43
My DD is a 14U player moving up to 16U in the Fall. She started catching almost 2 years ago. She has had limited game time but has been working a lot on her own to get better. She’s a player that’s been playing catch-up for some time now and has made great strides. She’s currently the second catcher, second 3rd base, plays outfield when needed and her coach wants her working middle infield too. It’s a lot. She works pretty much every day, quite a bit on batting and recently, mostly on fielding for 3rd and middle infield. She was trying to get in the starting lineup any way she could. The first catcher is absolutely better than her, probably the best player on the team, so she wasn’t going to start as catcher.

Well, it just so happens that the first catcher got injured going into PGF Nationals, they played the Premier division. So, in she went and played every inning as catcher all week – what a great opportunity for her - she almost doubled her lifetime catcher play time in one week. In many ways, she did amazing. She was literally a wall behind the plate, nothing going by her or dropped with a great drop ball pitcher who is notoriously hard to catch.

But, it became obvious what she needs to work on and I’m hoping you all can have some advice for her.
  • She needs to improve the velocity of her throw. Her throw and pop-time are fine but not great. She seems to be able to throw her own players out in practice but this past week she was not throwing girls out, many were close, but that only counts in horseshoes. I’ve seen the posts on the high level throwing method. Is there a catcher-specific one? Is that where we should go? It’s expensive so I want to make sure it’s worth the $$.
  • Because she has such little actual game time, I think having the batter there to throw around and the pressure of nationals threw her off her game a little. Any ideas of how to simulate game situations outside of games/team practice? They don’t typically work throws with batters in practice and I doubt she will get much more game time as the first catcher comes back until she gets better. Typically, she catches 1 game a tournament.
  • She will sometimes get what I’ll call the “yips” in her throwing. She typically has a good throw and is accurate. She’s had some great pickoffs and when playing 3rd always has a great throw. But every once in a while at catcher, she gets in her head and her mechanics are lost. Every pickoff attempt is wild. Well, that happened this week and I think because of the pressure of nationals and this being her “chance” to show what she can do, she couldn’t shake it. Any ideas on how to shake these “yips” in the moment. It's all mental, if she can just go practice 30 throws, I think it helps but pretty impossible during the game.
Finally, I’d appreciate any advice you might have around where she should be focusing her efforts. Perhaps it’s just too late to get to the level she needs to be at to be a catcher at this level. Should she throw in the towel? It seems like an endless circle. She needs game time to get better and she won’t get game time until she’s better.

She LOVES this game and I think could be great. She’s had some tough obstacles (I could write a book) thrown her way over the years and always just keeps working. I’m so proud of her and want to help her any way I can to be successful.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I appreciate any advice you can provide!
Where are you located? I know a great catchers coach up in Central Iowa.

First need for velocity is long toss and lots of it - just to get strong with throws.

What's her pop time? I have a stopwatch that I use for me DD's. Don't use the timer on a touch screen, too much variation. There used to be a timer on the iPHone that used the volume buttons for start/stop, but it is not longer supported, maybe there is another one available. I am a few years removed from 14U, but at 16U, it should be less than 1.8 getting close to 1.7 (from the pop of the ball hitting the catchers mitt to the pop of the ball hitting the glove at second base). Of course, that will vary in games, but with front toss you should be able to see what she is capable of and what she can do consistently.

Does she throw from feet and knees? IMO, you have to be able to do both depending on the location of the pitch.

For throwdowns, first work on technique (balance and pivot) and then work on the throws - lot's of throws. My guess is 20+ a few times a week.

I am assuming that batters get in the way for throws to first/third. Get a person to stand in the box and front toss to her while she works on footwork and leverage with the throw. Work on getting in front of the batter, behind the batter, and maybe even some pushing the batter out of the way and throwing through the batter.

I am assuming she has setup, receiving, and framing technique down. IMO, should been fluent in a couple different techniques to be used for different umpires.

For my DD's, lot's of blocking in the garage, lot's of throwdowns in the gym or on the diamond, lot's work on flexibility/receiving drills (IE tennis balls and framing).
 
Aug 8, 2022
6
3
Where are you located? I know a great catchers coach up in Central Iowa.

First need for velocity is long toss and lots of it - just to get strong with throws.

What's her pop time? I have a stopwatch that I use for me DD's. Don't use the timer on a touch screen, too much variation. There used to be a timer on the iPHone that used the volume buttons for start/stop, but it is not longer supported, maybe there is another one available. I am a few years removed from 14U, but at 16U, it should be less than 1.8 getting close to 1.7 (from the pop of the ball hitting the catchers mitt to the pop of the ball hitting the glove at second base). Of course, that will vary in games, but with front toss you should be able to see what she is capable of and what she can do consistently.

Does she throw from feet and knees? IMO, you have to be able to do both depending on the location of the pitch.

For throwdowns, first work on technique (balance and pivot) and then work on the throws - lot's of throws. My guess is 20+ a few times a week.

I am assuming that batters get in the way for throws to first/third. Get a person to stand in the box and front toss to her while she works on footwork and leverage with the throw. Work on getting in front of the batter, behind the batter, and maybe even some pushing the batter out of the way and throwing through the batter.

I am assuming she has setup, receiving, and framing technique down. IMO, should been fluent in a couple different techniques to be used for different umpires.

For my DD's, lot's of blocking in the garage, lot's of throwdowns in the gym or on the diamond, lot's work on flexibility/receiving drills (IE tennis balls and framing).
Thanks Agcy, really helpful. Here are some answers.

We're not in the midwest unfortunately.

I measured her pop-time from last week's games. Took video capture in gamechanger and placed it into iMovie so should be very accurate, glove to glove. She averages about 2.1. Sometimes 2.0 and above 2.1 a few times mostly when she had to block, dig or bobbled it. Seems she has some room for improvement but after reading some pop time threads, if she can even get it under 2.0 in game time she's getting there.

She'll throw from both her knees and her feet depending on where she receives it.

Yes, the batters are in the way on the pickoffs for 1st and 3rd. I measured the pop time to 3rd for a few pickoff attempts and there's some that are 2.6 so really needs some work. There's hesitancy to throw both from the batter in the way and when batter shows bunt, she waits for ss on 3rd, hesitates to throw with no one there.

Her receiving / blocking is good. Always can use work but not many passed balls. Probably could use work on a block to throw.

Shout-out to RADCatcher who looked at some videos and was VERY helpful. What a great community and special thanks to her.
 

Latest posts

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
41,039
Messages
641,744
Members
20,046
Latest member
VJM1163
Top