In order to be a successful catcher, you have to know how to make your pitcher look good. Part of that is knowing how to make receiving the ball seem effortless. There are a few mistakes that inexperienced catchers make when reaching for a pitch.
The first mistake is that catchers often hold their hand in an improper position. They may also reach out to stab at the pitch or let the ball travel too far into their body. To prevent these errors, it can be helpful to practice proper hand and arm position.
According to former Division I softball standout AJ Hamilton, that’s where the barehand receiving drill comes into play. This drill, which doesn’t require a catcher’s mitt, will isolate your hand, arm and wrist movements.
HOW TO PRACTICE THE BAREHAND RECEIVING DRILL
To begin the barehand receiving drill, you’ll need a partner – often a coach – to gently toss tennis balls to you. The tennis balls are the only equipment required, as the goal is to isolate catching the ball without a glove.
Once you’ve assumed your catcher’s stance behind the plate, point the thumb of your catching hand down toward your opposite knee. Now your partner will begin tossing the tennis balls. As you receive them, try to ensure that:
- Your thumb is underneath all pitches, with the exception of those far outside the zone.
- Your arm has flexion.
- Your wrist is locked in at the time of receiving the ball.
- You are receiving the ball with soft hands. Having soft hands means that you are receiving the ball in a smooth, fluid motion.
“Learning correct hand and arm position for receiving pitches is crucial for safety and efficiency,” Hamilton says.