"Behind Enemy Lines"
Occasionally I'll be working with a catcher who is having trouble incorporating the blocking skills they have been taught in a controlled environment into a live game or live pitch situation. In particular, keeping themselves from moving forward into the ball.
For those of you who don't know, the only pitches we advocate moving into on a block are offspeed pitches that are expected to bounce instead of skip into our body. To give u a better chance to control the ball and make a play off of it, we want to avoid pushing a ball in the dirt forward away from us. Remember, blocking the ball is great, but if you can't keep runners from advancing, you really didn't accomplish much.
One way I have found to help remind the catchers not to move forward during drills is to lay a checkered jump rope just barely in front of their feet. The goal on a block down the middle is to stay behind the jump rope with the knees replacing the feet. With a ball to the side, we want just the knee in the direction to which we're blocking to cross the line...this gets us turned and helps funnel the ball back towards the middle of the field.
The visual stimulus of the rope (I like checkered ropes because it is extremely hard for the catcher to avoid seeing it) in front of them helps remind the catcher in the middle of the drill not to go forward, thus giving them a better chance of creating muscle memory that will be used in games.
So catchers and coaches, if you are having trouble staying back on a block, put a jump rope down in front of yourself or your catchers and remind yourself or your catchers to stay behind the rope before each pitch. It will help keep them from moving forward on blocks
Thanks for reading this month's Tip of the Month!