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Catching - Blocking

Not Even Close To The Plate

There are going to be pitches that are thrown farther from the plate that you will still be able to block and require more movement than described in the techniques on page 1. These pitches require quick reaction and are difficult to get to. The momentum you generate as you move to the ball makes it difficult to keep your balance. You will need to practice this technique over and over to become comfortable and skilled.

Blocking pitch to the side

If the pitch is outside and bounces to your right:

  1. Step out with your right foot. Make sure you turn your foot in the direction you're going as you step.
  2. Sit down on your right knee with your left leg extended out along the ground. This will help you keep your balance as you go after the ball.
  3. Keep your upper body as you would in the technique described on the page 1.
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These instructions really over simplify the skill required. You'll understand the first time you try the technique. It requires quick lateral movement and balance. Two things that are difficult to achieve when you move from a squatting position to sitting on one knee.

One of the most common problems in blocking this ball is allowing your upper body to turn in the direction you are going. This causes the ball to bounce away from you to the side instead of staying in front of you. In most cases this allows the baserunner to advance. To keep your upper body square, it's important to slide on your planted knee and use your back leg to stabilize yourself. This takes practice to learn how to keep your balance and keep yourself square to the ball at the same time.

The Pitch You Can't Get In Front Of

When using the technique above, you'll find that sometimes you just can't get in front of the ball. When this happens you have no other option than trying to catch it. In this case you will perform the same technique as above with a couple of adjustments.

  1. Step out and drop as you normally would on a ball you can block.
  2. Let your glove continue out past your body to position it to catch the ball.
  3. As you reach for the ball allow your upper body to rotate and bring your back leg forward. This will give you greater range for reaching out and catching the ball.

Breaking Pitches

A fastball is the easiest to block since it bounces more true than a breaking pitch. With a breaking pitch, you must take into account the spin on the ball and the trajectory of the pitch. For example, a curveball breaks down from a higher trajectory than a fastball. This results in a higher bounce than the fastball. The spin of the ball can cause the bounce to go to one side or the other. To successfully block a curveball, be aggressive in getting close to where it will bounce and position your body off center to account for the bounce. As with all pitches, experience will help you determine where a ball is going after it bounces.

Youth Coaching Advice

Blocking a pitch is a difficult skill to master. Start by working on blocking the pitch directly in front and slightly to the side. Once your catchers have this skill, then work on having them take a slight step and block. Depending on the age and skill level this may be all they are able to handle.

 


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