Wild pitches can be a game-changing moment in softball. A misguided throw can allow your opponent to advance runners, or even score. By coming up with a block, you can keep the offense in check.
Being able to block a wild pitch is one of the most important jobs of a catcher.
Junior national team gold medal-winning softball coach Pam Newton says, “To be an effective catcher, we need to be prepared to block balls in the dirt and keep runners from advancing.”
HOW TO BLOCK A PITCH
Start in an athletic stance with your feet square to the pitcher. Be sure to have your mitt in a relaxed position and maintain flexion in your ankles, knees and hips. Your body should be facing the pitcher and set up in the middle of the plate.
To block the ball:
- Drop your knees to the dirt.
- Create an angle with your back and cradle over the ball to help direct it down to the ground.
- Round your shoulders and keep your chin down. This helps keep your vision on the ball as you track it in. Keeping your chin down can also help protect you through the movement.
- Place your mitt between your legs with your throwing hand behind it. You can also protect your fingers by putting your throwing hand behind your back.
These steps can help safely keep the ball in front so you can get back to your feet and halt the runner from advancing.
This blocking drill can be done without a ball. A coach or teammate can use a whistle, clap or voice command to signal when you should get into the blocking position.
To practice the drill:
- Start in your athletic catching stance.
- Repeat the blocking steps as quickly as possible.
- Bounce back up, returning to your starting position.
- You can advance this drill by speeding up your repetitions.
“In closing, blocking effectively is necessary to prevent passed balls and to also prevent runners from advancing,” Newton says.
By regularly practicing your blocking skills, you can be ready to boost your team’s defensive performance on the field.
A catcher’s ability to talk is just as important as their ability to block. Check out tips on how to better communicate with your teammates on the field.