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What is a 'catcher' in baseball?

Playing Catcher In Baseball

Alan Jaeger (Pitching Coach / Founder) gives expert video advice on: What is a 'catcher' in baseball?; What are the defensive responsibilities of a catcher in baseball?; What are some tips for a catcher to achieve the ideal stance in baseball? and more...

What is a 'catcher' in baseball?

A catcher is the position of a baseball field that sets up behind home plate and receives the ball from the pitcher.

What are the defensive responsibilities of a catcher in baseball?

The defensive responsibility for a catcher is baseball are many. First of all, it's his job to help guide the pitcher through the entire game. He's the one in charge of calling the pitches and helping to steer the pitcher to do the things that he feels are necessary, maybe based on what he sees the hitter doing or not doing. Secondly, his defensive responsibilities are the running game. When there's runners on base, he's in charge of doing his best to try to insure the pitcher speeds the ball to him to the plate as efficiently as possible. And then it's his responsibility, obviously, to throw to the base to try to throw the runners out. Thirdly, a big responsibility is, invariably there are wild pitches in the game and he's got to learn how to block the ball very well. The ability to block a ball that's in the dirt, so to speak, from the pitcher so a runner can't advance, is a very big deal in baseball.

What are some tips for a catcher to achieve the ideal stance in baseball?

The ideal catcher stance in baseball, there's really two. One is a stance when there's no runners on base, and so the catcher can be a little more relaxed and work more on his footwork to give the pitchers a good a target as possible. Secondly, when there's runners on base he has to be a little more athletic. He's got to be more on his toes and his body has to be positioned in a way where if he receives the ball, he's able to transfer the ball to his hand quickly and possibly throw a runner out. Therefore you've got the stance where there's no men on base, and the catcher's really working on giving the pitcher as good of a target as possible without any pressure. And then secondly, he still tries to maintain that good posture with men on base, but he's got to change a little bit to be prepared to throw a runner out.

How does the catcher 'call' the game in baseball?

The catcher calls the game in baseball in one of two ways. Usually at the higher levels, it's up to him what pitch he wants to call. He's in charge, and then the pitcher can then shake him off if the pitcher doesn't want to make that pitch. At the lower levels, the coaches tend to call a lot of pitches, so the catcher will literally look into the dugout, and the coach will relay a sign to him, and the coach will literally tell the catcher what pitch to throw, and then the catcher and the pitcher both have to obey, at that point.

What does it mean when the catcher is 'flashing signs' to the pitcher?

The catcher is giving signs, quite simply, by using his fingers. Depending upon what finger he puts down is the kind of pitch that he's relaying to the pitcher to throw.

What are some ways to keep the opposing team from deciphering the catcher's signs?

Some tips to use to help avoid the other team from deciphering your signs are what's called flashing different signals. What a catcher will do for instance is instead of putting one finger down for a fast ball and two fingers down for a curve ball, he will go through what is called a series of signs. He will put down a series of seven or eight signs, and only the pitcher knows which sign is the real sign.

What is the proper way for a catcher to receive the pitch in baseball?

The proper way for the catcher to receive the baseball from the pitcher is what's known as "framing". The idea of framing is that, if you can imagine that there's a little square box at which the strike zone exists to the umpire. Whenever the ball comes through that zone from the pitcher, the idea is the catcher uses his glove to frame the ball, or catch the ball, and angle it back towards that square. So, for a catcher the tip is called framing. Learning how to take the ball where it's pitched, and catch it in a way to where you're always bringing it towards that square, or toward that strike zone.

What is the 'catcher's box' in baseball?

The catcher's box is the pre-designed area, like the batter's box, where the catcher has to stay in that area. It's done with chalk just like the batter's box and it's an area that's just behind both batter's boxes, and it's centered towards the pitcher's mound.

What are some tips on how a catcher can throw out a runner trying to steal a base in baseball?

There are many tips for a catcher on how to throw out a runner trying to steal a base. Firstly, develop some arm strength. The first thing he has to learn is what to do to strengthen his arm. The second factor is what is called as the exchange, from catching the ball. From catching the ball to transferring the ball to the other hand is called the exchange. To a catcher, this is a critical skill to have. So it takes practice to learn how to transfer the ball. Thirdly, if the pitcher is "slow" to the plate and it takes a while for the ball to get to him, then he's got to be able to teach the pitcher, or talk to the pitcher or the pitching coach about how to speed up the pitcher, because if the pitcher doesn't get the ball to him at a certain point, it doesn't matter how good he is. He's going to have a hard time throwing the runner out.

If there are runners at the corners, how can a catcher prevent a 'double steal' in baseball?

If you`re a catcher and there are runners in the corner, there are three ways to prevent a double steal. One is to come up throwing as if you`re going to throw through to second base and you do what is called an arm fake. By doing an arm fake your goal it to try to draw the runner from third toward you and get him in a pickle and hopefully get him out. The second way is that the second baseman and shortstop have a play where one of them guards the bag and one of them comes up short. The idea is that you throw through like you are throwing the guy out at second and then the guy either cuts it off, and if the runner from third is coming and then you have a shorter throw to home and you can get him out or if the guy from third doesn`t move, the guy literally lets the ball go throw and you can still get the runner at second out. The third way is that you actually throw as realistically as you can like you are going to second base, and you actually throw to the pitcher and the idea there again is to draw the runner from third off the base.

As the catcher, what should I do if the pitcher throws a wild pitch in a baseball game?

If you're a catcher and the ball gets past you, the first thing you want to do is throw the mask off right away which gives you a chance to really see where the ball went. Secondly, listen for your teammates, they may be able to point out where the ball went if you can't find it right away. And then the third thing you want to do is once you locate the ball, you might want to take a quick peak and look at the field to see what the runners are doing because that may help you decide how fast you need to go after the ball.

What are some tips for a catcher on how to block home plate from base runners in baseball?

If you're a catcher and you're going to block the plate, the first thing you want to make sure you do is to not set yourself up to get hit without looking at the runner. Therefore, you don't want to commit yourself to blocking the plate until you know that you're going to receive the ball in time to brace yourself. So that's the first thing for safety reasons. Secondly, if you know that you're getting the ball in time, what a catcher will do is he'll put his foot in front of the plate in such a way where the knee is bent and there's some give. If you put your foot in front of the plate where there's no give, then you can have a very severe leg injury. So just be sure to put yourself in position where you're not going to get hit blindly and if you do have position of the ball, make sure there's give in your legs. You want to always have both hands on the glove, you want to have a hand where the ball is in the glove when you're tagging so the ball doesn't get jarred loose and be able to brace yourself.

What are some tips on how a catcher can pick off a base runner in baseball?

The key ways to pick off a runner if you're a catcher, really, is to know your runner. If you have a very aggressive runner or you feel like the runner is sleeping, then that's the time to really alert the first baseman, the second baseman or wherever the runner happens to be, because you hopefully have a previously designed play. Secondly, which is a very similar idea is that if the runner seems to be sleeping or is over-aggressive, you can have a pitch out. And usually, you have to do that when the count is in your favor.

What is the proper way for a catcher to field a pop fly in baseball?

The proper way for a catcher to field a pop fly is to immediately discard his mask. It's usually much more difficult to see the ball with your mask on. Secondly is that anything that's behind home plate - you'll learn this in time - but the spin of the ball is that it will actually come back towards the home plate, so you have to learn how to read the ball. Lastly, if the ball is hit forward of the plate, then ultimately it's the responsibility of the other position players to come in and get the baseball because the ball coming down is moving away from you and it's much more difficult to catch.

What is the proper way for a catcher to field a bunt in baseball?

The proper way for a catcher to field a bunt is to take the mask off immediately to free himself up if he's got time. Sometimes the bunts are placed in such a good position that you don't have time to get your mask off. The bottom line is that you need to rush to the ball as quickly as you can. As you approach the ball, it's called coming under control. You want to come under control for that last split second so that when you go to grab the ball you don't feel as if you have a lot of pressure or a lot of tension. When you grab the ball there's an old technique which is to push down a little bit so that when you grab the ball you push into the grass. It helps you get a good grip, and at that point you just have to trust your instincts.