Transform Your Baseball Practices with a 10 minute Active Catch Routine
Playing catch is an often overlooked piece of the defensive puzzle. Catching and throwing are the fundamentals to playing defense.
If we struggle catching the ball or making accurate throws on the foul line in the outfield before practice or a game, when no one is running, how do we expect to make plays once the game begins?
This 10 minutes can be the most impactful and important time at practice if we make it a priority and give them a plan to follow.
What I learned about Catch Routine
I used to throw the kids the ball and say “go get em”.
But what I found is that because I didn’t hold my players to a high standard of playing catch, they didn’t make it a priority. They are learning from us and if I feel something is important, most of the times, my players do too.
So… I made an adjustment.
Here are the adjustments we have found to be helpful:
- I was present. I walked around helping players with their throwing mechanics and catching skills. I reminded them to use their feet to help deliver the throws. Line up their feet, hips and shoulders. Emphasizing each throws intended location is their partners chest. I also kept the time and kept them at an organized distance. (For an actual schedule to follow, put your email in and I’ll send you the full practice schedule… and some videos to explain it all)
- Multiple Arm Slots / Specialty Throws. I put together a throwing program that covered the basic throws but also pushed them to work on specific throws such as infielders working on using multiple arm slots or throwing on the run. For my outfielders once we got loose, we worked on throwing long hops to each other.
- Consistency. It was the same active catch routine each day. We started at 30 feet, eventually got to 150 feet and then worked back in. They knew what to expect and they challenged themselves to improve on each throw at each distance.
- Accuracy over velocity. Yes, we are all chasing velocity and we all want to throw harder. I get it, but, if you have an absolute cannon but are constantly over throwing the first baseman, you are displaying a non useable tool.
- Throw harder, the RIGHT way. Focused on 2 shuffle steps to create distance and direction to throwing target. This takes the strain off the shoulder and allows us to throw harder and more accurately when we properly get our lower half involved.
- Upper Half Timing. Finally, we start each throw with our throwing hand in our glove at the midline at our chest. We want to create the same upper half timing on our throws so as the throws get more challenging, we can find the ability to repeat.
This simple adjustment to playing catch, sets a level of expectation that we have found helpful not only at the youth levels but at higher levels.
It’s fun to see players improve on defense, and making their active catch routine more of a priority has been a big positive for us.
In my opinion, it’s unfair to the players if we have a different standard on poor throws in a game compared to practice.
There is a good chance you have a solid pregame catch routine already, and if so, I just wanted to encourage you to keep going, this will help the kids. But, if not, try making a few modifications and see the results for yourself.
Have a great day,
PS. Did you miss Part 1 of this series? Click here for “Quick Win” for Fielding | Tips on Coaching Youth Baseball #1
ANNOUNCEMENT – Confident Infielder ADVANCED is coming soon! After more than a year in development, I have about one more day of filming to finish off the 100+ drills in this course. If you’re ready to get your “black belt” in infield defense, stay tuned!