June 2013 - Tip of the Month

"Quick Decisions Lead to Quick Outs"

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Last month we talked about the importance of leadership qualities in catchers. This month ties right into the application of those qualities.

As catchers, we are often put right in the middle of every play, and frequently asked to make tough decisions in the blink of an eye. Sometimes the decisions we make are the wrong ones, sometimes they can save the inning or game.

It is important for catchers to understand that making a bad decision on the field isn't the worst thing that can happen. Not making any decision at all is often far more detrimental to the team.

Take this situation from a tournament I attended a couple weeks back. Fifth inning, runner on first base, one out, speedy hitter at the plate. The batter takes a mighty hack but tops the ball and it dribbles towards the pitcher. The runner at first base didn't break immediately and is only half way between first and second base. The catcher is silent. The pitcher picks up the ball looks towards second base, double-clutches, turns towards first base to make the throw, and still the catcher is silent. By the time the pitcher committed to making the throw to first base, the runner had already passed the bag. This causes the pitcher to attempt to stop themselves from throwing and the ball slips out of their hand and rolls into foul territory. Both the runner on second and the runner on first advance another base.

Let's think for a second what would have happened if the catcher was yelling ONE!, ONE!, ONE! the whole time.

On every team I have ever coached and every catcher I have ever worked with, I have made it a point to explain to the catcher that it is their job to be the voice inside their teammates heads. You cannot afford to be silent.

So many catcher are afraid of making a mistake. Directing the play to a base when they have no realistic shot at recording an out, but they don't realize that not saying anything at all is worse. I tell my catchers if you're going to be wrong, be 110% wrong. Sell out to your decision and make sure every single person on the field hears you make one. Be so loud in your decision that your teammates can't hear the voice inside their head disagree. Your commitment to one particular play may not record an out, but indecisiveness will often lead to even more mistakes.

Catchers, you are the voice of your team. You have a perspective on the field that nobody else has and must be able to use that to your advantage. Go with your first instinct when it comes to plays on the field and stand by them. If you aren't confident in your decision it will sound that way when you shout them out and will give your teammates a reason to doubt you. Make your decisions as quickly and as confidently as you can and you'll have a much better chance at being successful.

Thanks for reading this month's Tip of the Month!