Opening Day is here!
We've all been waiting a while for those words. Just the mention of Opening Day means that the weather has most likely begun to turn and we are well on our way to the "dog days of Summer".
It also means that over the next 6 months we will be given an opportunity to watch the best catchers in the world make some of the same mistakes as your typical youth catcher.
During last night's first MLB game of the season, perennial Gold Glover Yadier Molina made one of these mistakes.
I've watched a ton of Yadi over the years, and one of the things I have recognized is that he routinely gets away with relying on his reputation of being one of the best defensive catchers in MLB history.
Yadi Blocks better than just about any other catcher in the league, but when he blocks to his right, he often makes a rookie mistake. Yadi drops anchor.
Dropping anchor is when a catcher's "outside" knee hits the ground before their inside knee. In following this sequence of movements to the ground, we prevent our body's from getting turned back towards the middle of the field. Making it extremely difficult to control the ball.
During this particular game, the mistake didn't cost Molina anything. Mostly because of his reputation. If a ball in the dirt hits Yadi, nobody runs. It's really as simple as that. However, if this occurs with any other catcher the runner is advancing to the next base, possibly leading to a run if that runner started on 3B.
Catchers, let's make sure that our hands lead our bodies to the ground. This ensures that my middle will be lined up with the ball, but if my "outside" knee hits the ground next, we're in a great deal of trouble.
If you struggle with the sequence of the block, it is not all that hard to fix the issue. Slow the process down while doing drills and go through a "three-step block". Set the ball to your side. Shift the hips to send the hands to the ground, let the "inside knee" fall to the ground along the same line that the feet started on (while keeping the chest pointed towards the infield) and then let the "outside knee" drive forward, thus turning the body back towards the middle of the field.
By slowing down the process, you build the muscle memory necessary to work on this skill at game-speed.
Please remember to
keep an eye out for April's Tip of the Month!