This was the 1st full season I spent fully committed to catching on one-knee every pitch
…in EVERY situation
…for the whole season.
Why 1 knee?
The motivation for me to move from a traditional stance to a one-knee stance was simple:
⚡️Advanced receiving metrics⚡️
What are “Advanced Receiving Metrics”?
Advance receiving metrics are stats that each team measures in their own unique way to quantify how a catcher is receiving the ball.
They involve more than just “how many strikes do you catch.”
Different teams include umpire tendencies, pitcher unique pitch movement, how far behind home
Plate your center of mass is, point of contact, sheaf to head comparison with the other catcher and SO much more.
Did 1 Knee work better than Traditional Stance?
The way catchers are evaluated has been completely flipped on it’s head since my career began 14 years ago.
As of today…
- How many strikes you steal and
- How many strikes you keep
…are the most valued skills a catcher does in the professional game.
My weakness was stealing strikes at the bottom of the zone, partially because I am so tall, so I moved to a one-knee stance to get lower and improve those metrics.
Originally I only went to a knee with no runners on base and less than two strikes. Only in situations where I would not have to block or throw.
But my receiving numbers were SO drastically better from the one-knee stance, I was encouraged to learn how to perform the other skills from that stance so I could commit to the one-knee stance full time.
Blocking & Throwing With 1 Knee Down
It wasn’t easy at first. But now I feel MORE confident blocking from one-knee.
I only missed one block in over 70 games caught this year.
I also leaned to throw first from the right knee down one-knee stance, then also from the left knee down.
Should YOU give 1 knee a try?
When everything is going right, everyone is all for it. But if someone steals or you miss one single block, someone will question the one knee down.
It’s like life in that way, when things are going good, no-one questions… any bump in the road leads to an opening of people beginning to question.
But the world is changing. And people’s opinions of catching on one-knee are changing too.
Even the casual observer is starting to recognize the benefits.
So if you haven’t tried it, or have been hesitant, I encourage you to at least test it out.
My blocking was the best it has ever been. My throwing was very close to the same as it is when I’m in a full squat. And my receiving was better than it has ever been.
I also fielded bunts, and especially swinging bunts better than I ever have. I think having my eye level lower to the ground helped me find the ball and attack it faster.
Better for YOUR body?
Another thing I learned…
It helped keep me healthier.
Supporting my full weight in a squat for less time kept my legs fresh for my last at bat every game.
There was definitely a learning curve, and catching on one-knee is not for everybody or every BODY. But for the range of motion limitations I have in my hips and ankle joints, catching on a knee helped me improve my game.
Hope this helps.
Ryan Lavarnway is a catcher for the Cleveland Indians. He has also played in the Major Leagues with Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, and Oakland Athletics organizations.
In 2013, Lavarnway earned a World Series title and ring with the Boston Red Sox.
Lavarnway was a key member of Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic is 2016 and 2017, earning himself MVP of Pool A of the Tournament.
Would you like a free gift?
Ryan Lavarnway put together a simple tool to help you become a better blocker. This checklist for perfect blocking form can help avoid those embarrassing past balls, and also can help you control the baserunners by keeping blocked balls closer to you.