In today’s video blog post, we are talking about softball catcher conditioning for plays at the plate. These would be plays where the catcher is either receiving a throw from the infield or receiving a throw from the outfield, with someone coming to score.
The two things the catcher has to pay attention to is:
Number one: making the tag on the runner coming in
Number two: making the decision whether she’s going to have to get down and block the plate to keep the runner from sliding in and scoring.
When the ball is hit, the first thing the catcher has to do is she needs to get her body in front of the plate, with their left foot over the plate, which can be used as a guideline for them. They’re watching the ball being thrown into them, but they know where the plate is now because their left foot is off the corner of the plate.
When we come out, we want to make sure we square the shoulder to the throw. We want to keep the body in the midline in case the throw is off line, bounces incorrectly, and so forth. And remember, whenever we come out to field any ball there is always a bend in the knees. Bend in the knees.
Scenario: Runner is tagging at third base, there’s a throw from left field. Close play at the plate. We’re concerned with whether she’s going to be safe or out, so we want our catcher to block the plate.
- take a step so she can come across and get her body in the middle of home plate
- position the body
- bring her hips down, slide across, and create a blocking position to keep the runner from getting through to her.
- field the ball, take a step, so now we’re bringing that body across the plate
- drag the leg and now we’re creating a blocking position.
- bring the glove down, leaning over with the back, so you are bringing the shoulders into the play as a block. Now I can accept the force of the person coming into me with my shoulders. I’m using leverage and I can keep her from knocking me back on the plate.
- Glove is down, two hands on the ball, and now we’re ready to make the play and the tag.
You always want to be ahead of the plate a couple feet if possible. If somebody does get by you, you want to keep them far enough away where they’re not going to reach the plate. Now this can’t always happen, depending on how late the ball comes in. But if possible, you always want to stay a couple feet in front of the plate so you don’t give that person opportunity to reach it at all.
And the last point I want to make about blocking the plate and plays at the plate is you’re going to have those times when the throw is going to beat the runner by quite a bit. The thing you want to tell your catcher is to get away from the plate, go meet the runner, and tag. So if she has the ball in plenty of time, she’s not going to stay here and let the runner come to her. She’s going to go ahead, meet the runner, tag her with two hands, and get her out of the way.
For more great softball catcher conditioning drills, tips and techniques, be sure to check out my “5 Free Softball Coaching Videos from 11 Time NCAA Champ Sue Enquist”! Sue will take you through more great tips on softball catcher conditioning for fielding and defense! And don’t forget to Become a Fan on Facebook, where I will share more great softball fielding ideas and suggestions, and where you can talk to other coaches and players about other important softball catcher conditioning and practices!