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Young players don’t play catch enough, and when they do there simply isn’t enough attention given to it.
At its most basic level defense is all about playing catch. A team that cannot play catch well is a team that will not play defense well.
We talk about all sorts of ways to efficiently structure practices to help you get the most out of your limited time with your team.
But lately, I think younger teams need to spend way more time playing catch.
Whenever I watch the start of a practice I typically see a quick stretch and then the kids pair up and start playing catch.
Very often there is a lack of structure and it is often when the least amount of coaching occurs.
This is the time of practice when the coaches are all hanging out shooting the breeze with each other.
It needs to be the portion of practice when the coaches are the most engaged!
Plus, during the winter months, there is a huge amount of teams in cold climates that are not able to get outdoors, so they end up only hitting all winter.
If you are stuck indoors with limited space we have a quick recommendation for you today.
Double Knee Catch Play
In this modified version of catch the focus becomes how to efficiently move the upper body and extremities when playing catch.
It is super simple to do and I am going to walk you through a couple points to focus on with your athletes.
To teach players how to properly receive throws and move efficiently through the transfer to link it to strong accurate throws.
How to do it:
1. Place two partners about 15 feet apart from one another.
2. Have them get down onto both knees with their shoulders square to one another.
3. They will both have their glove or a pancake glove on and 1 baseball for the two of them.
4. Now the two of them will play catch with the goal of not allowing the ball to stop moving as they receive the baseball.
5. As each player receives the ball we want them to do the following:
b. Let the ball get deep
c. Think of following the ball into their glove with their throwing hand
d. As the ball is received, instruct them to coordinate their shoulder turn with the reception, again to make sure the ball continues to move.
e. As they feel that shoulder turn the will also complete the transfer and break the hands to come into their arm circle.
f. The idea is to stay as smooth as possible.
g. The goal is not to keep the ball moving as fast as possible, but to keep it moving in a smooth manner.
6. As players start to figure out the coordination of the move have them spread out a little more.
7. Eventually, we will bring them up to their feet and introduce the lower half, and how it will sync up with the upper half.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”Bill Gates
The same principle is at work here, making players move fast without fixing the root of the problem will only magnify the inefficiency.
This is a super basic drill but if players optimize their movement with the upper body & upper extremities, then we can introduce the feet. That will be the next step.
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