A main responsibility for softball catchers is to receive the ball. But it’s not exactly a game of catch behind the plate. Soft hands, a firm wrist and some leverage in your elbow can help you catch cleanly and hold your position for the umpire’s call.
To build muscle memory for receiving success, you can use the Tennis Ball Drill to fine-tune your skills.
TENNIS BALL DRILL
To work on soft hands and proper form, the Tennis Ball Drill can be a great tool. Begin in a relaxed, primary catching position. You’ll catch the oncoming tennis balls with your bare hand, so your catcher’s mitt is not needed.
Once ready, your coach should feed you tennis balls from 10 feet away. They should hit multiple spots in the strike zone. Track the tennis ball in, keeping concentration as it impacts your hand. Focus on keeping your glove elbow underneath your glove hand. Your knuckles should point toward the sky.
The Tennis Ball Drill is also a good time to work on framing your pitches. Once you receive the tennis ball, hold your position for a quick second. Framing can help umpires make calls and potentially gain your pitcher some strikes.
After training with the Tennis Ball Drill, you can progress to an actual softball. Grab your mitt and settle into your secondary catching position. The tracking, catching and framing portions of the drill are the same as before. This time, however, they have a more game-like feel. Pay attention to your wrist, too. This drill can be a great time to work on being soft, yet firm when receiving the ball.
In both these softball catching drills, remember to stay in control of your body. Keep a nice balance as you train for better receptions, more favorable pitch calls and increased trust from your pitcher.