Basic Catch Play
Basic Catch Play
If your team can’t catch the ball, your coaching experience will be the worst…take the time to engrain simple, easy to remember rules with your players.Simplicity is the key throughout all areas of baseball
What you’ll learn
The importance of proper catch play
The most neglected portion of baseball. Set your team apart by spending a lot of time on basic catch play.
How long to play catch
The best way to actually teach catch play to your team
Keys to use with your team to continue to improve at catch play
Principles of receiving the baseball
Position specific catch play
Things to watch for
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Common flaw reference guide
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The key to success is how you implement these two drills. As a coach you have to introduce these ideas of why it’s important and make sure that you’re doing it in a way that is so simple that anyone could understand. Make sure you practice explaining it prior to actually doing it with your team.
1. Start slow motion
2. Constantly ask players to explain back to you what you’ve just explained to them
3. Use your verbal cues and repeat yourself often
4. Identify players that are doing it correctly and use them as an example
6. Practice explaining the drills and reasoning for them prior to implementing with your team
Take the time to explain each drill thoroughly prior to rolling out ground balls. It’ll save you a lot of headache later. Make sure you check with your players to see if they’re listening (they’re not) directly after you state something important (i.e. – when you’re talking about why you want to be left eye every time because it allows your glove to have give and gives you the opportunity at a replay opportunity…immediately ask one of the kids why they should try and be left eye every time).
Start with the triangle drill first, then move on to the line drill – Even though the triangle drill is important to do first, you should be doing the line drill about 10x more than you’ll ever do the triangle drill.
Starting with the triangle drill – Gather everyone around and make sure they know that you are going to check and see if they’re listening throughout your explanation. Explain the triangle drill and why you’re doing it. Make sure you use your verbal cues for specific drills as you’re demonstrating. Explain the verbal cue and what it means. Make sure they know that you can’t move on to the more fun stuff until everyone can really get this triangle drill right. Split the kids up into partners to have one act as a “spotter” to identify what the other is doing wrong. As a coach, you should be walking around and correcting kids. Don’t let them rush through it. They shouldn’t pick up speed with this drill until they can do it exactly right.
The kids will enjoy the line drill more. Start by drawing the line and going through the explanation of why it’s important. It’s important because it’s designed to prevent infielders from getting stuck (stopping their feet). When a players feet stop, they make errors, they get hit in the face, it costs the team the game, it makes them cry, and makes it bad a experience for everyone. So if you can make them understand that you’re going to spend a lot of time on this drill because it definitely makes their baseball life easier, they’re usually more apt to focus. Start with the ball directly at the fielder, using the line that you’ve already drawn. Make sure the fielder is starting with the line between their feet, so they have to clear themselves every time. Slowly roll the ball down the line and use your verbal cues. Make your fielders do it half speed to start until they can do it perfect. Make sure they’re using the proper footwork on their approach and their exit from the fielded ball.
Give it time – the first day you do these drills, they definitely won’t be perfect and some kids will seem like they’re not making progress. Stick with the and continue to utilize them day after day and you’ll see results. It’s like all of a sudden a kid just gets it, and once he gets it, then he has it forever, but it takes a coach that’s willing to go through the tough reps.
If you need more explanation on the drills please visit the following articles:
Why are these the two best drills to use?
1. Fielding Position – The reason that you’re spending time on the triangle drill is to help players feel what the proper fielding position as well as approach feels like. If they don’t know what the proper fielding position feels like, how can we ever expect them to reach it? It helps the players connect simple verbal cues with the feeling of the position (i.e. flat back)
2. Practices the three most common plays in the infield – The three most basic plays that you need your players to be able to make in the infield are the routine ground balls right at them, to their left, and to their right. You shouldn’t move on to backhands, double plays, etc until the kids can show you that they are able to field these balls on a consistent basis. Especially with the younger kids, if you throw too many new things at them, they will have a hard time figuring out what type of approach to take towards specific types of ground balls.
Why are we practicing these so much?
You need to practice these 3 plays over and over until they are engrained into your players heads. Ideally, you want it to work like a computer program for your players (i.e. – when they see the ground ball to their left, the “program” fires and they just automatically have a set way to approach and field that ball as well as get rid of it in an efficient manner). Repetition eliminates them having to think about what play they should match up with a certain type of ground ball.
Why do I feel like I’m repeating myself over and over?
If you’re doing these drills right you should be repeating yourself all the time. The kids are NOT listening most of the time, especially the younger they get. Eventually they will tune in and when they do you want to make sure you’re providing them with the information that they’re looking for, even if they missed it in earlier explanation. Sometimes, the kids get tired enough of you saying the same thing over and over that they’ll give in and do it correctly.
Why aren’t we practicing backhands, double plays, slow rollers, or any other types of ground balls or infield technique?
To be honest, it’s an issue of simplicity and information overload. Even though it seems like these drills are pretty basic and you could cover them in one or two days, the people that continue to try and make their younger players really good at these three drills will have more success when it comes to game time play. We’re simply playing the odds. Backhands are constantly done wrong and most of the time players stop their feet or their arms aren’t strong enough to complete the play anyway. You’re much better off teaching the method we talk about in the line drill on the ball to a fielders right where they field it off to the side. This also is an easy transition into slow rollers.
Good vs. Bad
Beginner’s Fielding Technique Verbal Cues
Left eye – refers to the position of the ball relative to the players body when they’re fielding it. If you were to drop a string from the players left eye, that should be about the place they’re fielding the ball (on a routine gb). If you want to read more about left eye you can do so in a couple of articles [LINK TO TRIANGLE DRILL] [LINK TO FIELDING POSITION ARTICLE]
Glove presentation – refers to how the player is carrying his glove from the time the ball is hit to the time he fields the ball. We want it on the outside of the left hip or left side of the body hanging and loose. We don’t want it inside of the frame of the body or flexed.
Clear yourself – refers to creating an angle toward any type of ground ball. We want our players to do this on any routine ground ball no matter what direction. It gives the players a better perspective to judge hops and speeds. It also helps with keeping the players feet moving. It also helps with keeping the players from over pursuing on the ball to the left, as well as, creating momentum towards first on the ball to the player’s right. If you want a deeper explanation on the line drill you can read this article [LINK TO THE LINE DRILL]
Field the right side of the ball – This is a good one that helps the players with clearing themselves. If you were to take the ball and split it in half vertically, you want them to try and field the right half of the ball. Will they actually field the right side of the ball, no. But, it’s all about the approach and the steps prior to even fielding it.
Never let your feet stop – this is a big one, as soon as the feet become stuck errors will follow. Even if the player clears themselves and is in the right position waiting to take his final approach steps, their feet should still be moving. The feet should either be chopping (not like a football player, just an easy movement) in place or gaining ground toward the baseball. You’ll use this cue a lot on the ball to a players left. Often, they get their early and aren’t quite sure what to do when they’re sitting in that “hallway”. We tell them, if they’re in the hallway early, and they feel like they’re waiting to long to go ahead and “gain a level” (explained next).
Sneak up on the ball – refers to the posture and general approach to the ball. We tell our players to sneak up on the ball when they are approaching it too tall or they have heavy feet. This cue seems to really connect with players and they pick it up quickly.
Gain a level – you can use this when you’re explaining how to correctly charge a baseball. You don’t want your players charging the baseball and becoming out of control or being late with their approach steps. Gaining a level simply refers to taking 1-2 steps towards the ball (while staying in the hallway) so as to cut down the distance, but to still be in control and be able to take our final approach steps into a routine ground ball.
Funnel – refers to the hands coming to the center of the body around the belly button area after the player has received the ball. Even if the player picks a short hop, with his hands moving through the ball, we want them to bring them back to the center to have a consistent breaking point leading into a throw.
Right to left, left to the target – refers to the feet after the player has received the ball. We don’t teach the step in front method because in our experience, you don’t gain a significantly larger amount of of ground towards the target and it seems easier for the kids to pick up. Remember, often times on a routine ground ball it will end up being shuffle, shuffle, throw. The right to left, left to the target is only talking about the initial steps out of the fielding position. Feel free to start with the shuffle, shuffle…which would be right to left, left to the target, right to left, left to the target and throw.