When there are two strikes or if runners are on base, catchers need to be able to block pitches in the dirt and recover quickly. This will help keep your opponents from advancing to another base or reaching base on a dropped third strike. Practice these game-like scenarios with these drills:
You’ll first want to be in blocking stance. Your knees should be on the ground with your hips low, base wide, mitt in between your legs, arms in, head/chin down and eyes on the ground. Watch our blocking video for more details.
Have your coach or teammate place a baseball down in front of home plate and then say “go” to initiate the drill. Quickly get out of your stance, staying low to the ground while picking the ball up with your bare hand and getting into a good throwing position. Your shoulders, hips and feet should be square to your target with the ball up and behind your ear. But, for this drill you will not make a throw. Instead, pause in this position for a second, flip the ball back to your coach and return to the blocking position. Repeat.
Once you’re ready for a more advanced form of the drill you’ll follow the same steps, but this time at game speed. You’ll then make a strong throw to the target. Your coach or teammate can vary between first, second and third base for throws, to simulate different situations.
The last progression is to make it as game-like as possible. The coach will now throw a pitch from about 10-20 feet in front of the plate. The pitch should be in the dirt, forcing you to make the block, locate the ball, recover it quickly with your bare hand by staying low to the ground and make a strong throw to the target.
It is important to block first and then recover; after all, you can’t recover without the block. You want to expect that the runner is going to attempt to advance anytime the ball is in the dirt and make sure you know how to plan accordingly.