Softball Catcher Drills: Ball in Hand Drill

For catchers, pocket awareness is paramount. Learn how to improve your skills with the ball in hand drill.

Looking to improve your efficiency at the catcher position? Former Division I softball player AJ Hamilton says that pocket awareness might be the answer.

“Just like barrel awareness is important for hitting, pocket awareness is important for catching,” Hamilton says. “Having good feel and understanding for where the pocket of your catcher’s mitt is allows you as a catcher to receive more efficiently.”

One way to help you get a better feel for the pocket is by practicing the ball in hand drill. The main purpose of the drill is to isolate the thumb, index finger and middle finger of your glove hand.


To complete this drill, you’ll need a partner, a small ball such as a table tennis ball or golf ball, and a set of tennis balls. You do not need a glove. The ball in hand drill follows these steps:

  • Begin by taking the small ball and pinching it between your ring finger, pinky finger and palm.
  • Once you’ve assumed your catcher’s stance, your partner will begin tossing tennis balls to you.
  • Focus on catching the tennis ball with your three remaining fingers.

“Being able to isolate the thumb, index finger and middle finger simulates where the pocket of the glove will be,” Hamilton says. “[This] allows catchers to develop a better feel for receiving properly.”

Need more tips on improving your catching technique? Learn proper arm and hand position with the barehand receiving drill.