Catcher’s are notorious for being the toughest, most selfless and hardest working players on the team. They’re constantly taking their gear off and putting it back on between innings, and spend hours in the crouch - blocking pitches in the dirt and wearing foul balls. For all that catchers provide for their team, they deserve some love.
Growing up as a catcher, I can only recall a handful of times when a coach worked with me on blocking drills, and I can’t remember a single time anyone ever instructed me on framing pitches. However, I do remember all the times my legs felt like jello as I ran out a ground ball, and the occasions in which I spent an entire batting practice in the squat. The coaches would always let me take a few hacks at the end though - which was nice.
No doubt about it, catchers have it pretty rough. Sure, they signed up for these duties and it’s an honor barking out alignments, being the quarterback of the defense and being the only player who is able to see the entire field. But, for all that they represent to a ball club, don’t catchers deserve more? Is it possible to lighten a backstops' physical load? How can coaches go about throwing their catcher an occasional bone?
As MaxBP has evolved for the past decade, we have found that many catchers are utilizing MaxBP for defensive training drills. Players are finding that catching the golf ball sized wiffle balls from short distances at high speeds is great for reaction times and hand eye coordination. Trying to teach a young backstop how to frame pitches and pick up those strikes on the corners? MaxBP provides approximately 120 reps in 10 minutes of time.
What about blocking drills? Coaches won’t have to throw balls in the dirt anymore and catchers don’t need to stay after practice to get that extra attention. With the MaxBP on a tripod, tilt the machine to a downward trajectory and let the catcher work on keeping the ball in front of them. If they can block a small wiffle ball traveling at 90+ MPH, they can block a baseball or softball - no problem. This is a great way for a catcher to develop defensive muscle memory, and without the risk of breaking a finger or acquiring a bunch of bruises.
Another great way for catcher’s to get reps is by utilizing MaxBP for conditioning at the end of practice. With a coach operating the MaxBP, a catcher behind the dish and players on every base, the coach can tilt the machine and mix in an occasional ball in the dirt. At this point, the baserunners will take off running for the next respective base, while practicing their secondary lead on the balls that are over the plate. This provides a great opportunity to implement conditioning, instills baserunning instincts and allows the catcher to work on their framing and blocking techniques.
Catchers have earned the reputation of being hard working and low maintenance, but this shouldn’t be taken for granted. For all the leadership and toughness a backstop brings to a ball club, they should be treasured accordingly. Take care of your catcher and provide them with an opportunity to improve their skills and preserve their bodies.