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What Should An 8 Year Old Practice To Play Catcher In Little League?

February 26, 2013

Coaches and parents alike can sometimes feel overwhelmed teaching young catchers to play their position.  But there are some simple basic steps you can take with them to establish good conditioning early on.  A young catcher should really be focusing on four main things to begin with.  Firstly, the catcher should practice the squat.  Then, they need to get used to moving in their equipment.  Finally, they need to practice catching when a batter is swinging the bat and blocking balls in the dirt.

The first thing the child needs to learn is the squat. The feet should be about shoulder width apart. Their weight should be equally distributed between each foot and they should be up on their toes. When a catcher is in their squat, their center of gravity should be low, providing stability. A catcher needs to become comfortable in this position.  When squatting behind the plate, the glove should be out in front the catcher, giving the pitcher a big target.  The other hand should be behind the back.

Next, the catcher will need to become familiar with the catcher’s equipment. It is important to be able to get the gear on and off quickly. The shin guards are the most complex. The lower straps should cross in the back, with the lower strap connecting to the middle D-ring and the middle strap connecting to the lower D-Ring. The straps should cross above the calf, which will keep the shin guard in place. The top strap (or straps) do not cross.

The chest protector is relatively simple.  Usually, everything except the waist strap is left connected.  This way, it can be easily put on by putting one arm in and lifting it over the head.  Then the waist strap is connected.  At this age, the helmet and face mask should be one piece.  The fit should be snug but not tight.  The catcher needs to be able to get the mask off quickly without causing pain.  The shin guards should stay on unless the catcher is batting, because they take the longest to put on.  Also, the catcher should get used to walking and running with the shin guards on.

Now that the catcher can squat and is getting comfortable with the equipment it is time to get used to having somebody swing a bat while they catch the ball.  This can be difficult to get used to.  It is very intimidating trying to catch a ball while somebody is swinging a bat right above your head.  It is helpful to start with a coach swinging the bat, trying not to hit the ball.  Then, when the catcher is used to that, have an actual batter try to hit the ball.  Be aware, this may produce some bumps and bruises if the batter foul tips the ball.

Finally, it is very important to learn how to block a pitch in the dirt.  Start with a pitch that is over the plate that bounces before it gets to the catcher.  The proper way to block this is for the catcher to go down on their knees, with their knees spread, and put the glove and the other hand down between the legs, and lean forward slightly.  The goal is to keep the ball from bouncing away from the catcher.  If the catcher is in the proper position, the ball will bounce off the ground, hit the catcher, and end up in front of the catcher.

And there you have it.  These are the things that young catchers should learn and practice.  First, of course, is the squat.  Everything that a catcher does starts with the squat.  Then a catcher should get used to the equipment that is needed.  Once the catcher is used to the equipment, they should catch while a batter is swinging the bat.  The last thing I usually teach at this age is blocking balls in the dirt.   A catcher that learns these four things early will have very solid fundamentals with which to build upon as they get older.

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One Comment
  1. Charlene permalink

    GO BREWERS!!!!! Good luck on the first game of your season!!

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