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A Practice Model for Pitchers and Catchers

If you really want to reach your maximum potential as a pitcher or a catcher and help your team as much as possible, pitchers and catchers from the same team MUST practice together. We love dedicated parents and siblings who catch for their daughters/sisters, but pitchers who never throw to their catchers during their workouts leave so much potential untapped, and the same goes for catchers.

In last week’s post, I discussed the importance of catcher framing and how it can have a major effect on the outcome of an inning or an entire game. Practice is the time for pitchers and catchers to work on pitch framing, get to know each other, and really learn how to take advantage of each other’s best points.

Above all, it’s important for a pitcher and a catcher to develop a routine that makes them both comfortable, and this will inevitably vary from person to person. That’s ok! If you have a practice routine that works for you, keep at it.
If you’re getting together for the first time, here’s a suggested practice model for you to try.

A Suggested Practice Model for Pitchers and Catchers

WARMING UP

Every pitcher should have a warmup routine that involves a progression of drills. Do this first during practice. It should be the same routine used to warm up before a game, so that no matter what the situation is the pitcher and catcher can get into a comfortable, familiar groove.

The goal is for the catcher to eventually be able to tell when the pitcher is loose without having to rely solely on the pitcher saying so herself. Pitchers, like anyone else, have good and bad days both physically and emotionally. There might be a day before a game when the pitcher feels like rushing through her warmup, but the catcher can tell that she really needs to take a little more time. Learning these things enables you to encourage each other, making both of you better players and helping your team as a whole.

PITCHING PRACTICE

Once all her drills are complete, the pitcher should just pitch for a while, spending some time on each type of pitch she throws (and making sure to tell the catcher what pitch is coming). The catcher should spend the first half of this time practicing her technical framing and blocking skills. If there is a particular pitch that gives the catcher trouble (maybe blocking a drop, for example), spend some extra time on it.

During the second half of this free pitching time, the catcher should begin carefully observing the pitcher. She should learn to recognize obvious mechanical mistakes the pitcher tends to make frequently so she can help her get through them if necessary. The catcher should be able to tell the difference between how the pitches come in when the pitcher is tired or when she’s in a groove, and also get a sense of what her most reliable pitches are. All this will help the catcher anticipate where the pitches will end up and how they will move, thus improving framing ability.

SIMULATED INNINGS

At the end of the practice, do one or two simulated innings. Have someone call balls and strikes. If the pitcher throws a strike but misses her spot or throws a movement pitch that doesn’t move, count it as a hit or a foul ball. The goal is to strike out the side before giving up a run, either by hit or walk. Catchers, see if you can use your framing skills to get some strike calls out of your volunteer umpire!

OPTIONAL: PITCH STRATEGY

This will depend mostly on your experience level and your coach. Many coaches prefer to call the pitches in a game themselves, but in some cases it’s the catcher’s responsibility. If you’re a catcher and you’re expected to call pitches, spend some time before the simulated inning discussing pitch strategy with your team coach and/or the pitcher’s pitching coach. Develop plans for different types of hitters, and learn what pitches to call in different situations, based on variables like where the batter is standing, where she holds her hands, where she hit the ball last time, and what pitch was previously thrown. Then, incorporate pitch calling into the simulated innings.

Got a practice model that works for you? Share it in the comments!

About the author

Carly

Carly is a windmill pitching specialist and co-founder of Fastpitch Power. She has coached teams at every level from 10U to NCAA. She also designed and built fastpitchpower.com. Please feel free to leave questions and site feedback in the comments or via our contact page!

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