How about all of the above? D and E not so much, as I think the catcher should have some idea where the ball might be going.
I did see Sluggers suggestion put into practice this spring on our HS JV team. Dad sitting in the stands behind the plate looking like he had a full body case of poison ivy, DD hurling all nine pitches and the poor catcher getting screamed at by coach because she kept missing the ball. It was a very effective strategy for the other team.
I think the answer really depends on the age, experience level, mentality, and temperament of the players. It also depends on the coach. I have known any number of coaches that were very good at fundamentals but knew almost nothing about pitching.
I do think that at some point a parent needs to stop calling pitches unless they are a coach and that is their responsibility for the team.
I also think the pitcher should, in most cases, rarely shake off pitches. The pitcher and whoever is calling pitches should know each other well and trust each other.
The advantage of calling from the dugout is twofold. As jimginas pointed out it takes pressure off the battery and it allows you to accurately chart each pitcher. Itís hard to tell if a pitch on the outside was a curve that didnít break or a drop that hung, etc., from the dugout if the catcher is calling.
The best of all worlds may be having a catcher and/or pitcher who arenít in the game call pitches with a coach advising. It allows the players in the game to focus on execution while keeping those out of the game involved and learning.
I personally could not coach a game without calling pitches. I would get extremely bored sitting there! A good coach should call the game. Put it in your hands not the catcher or pitcher. Get them to trust your judgement. If a good hit happens off the pitch you called then tell them its your fault. You have the book, you are paying attention to the other teams hitters, you know their tendancies, so you make the call for your kids. Just my opinion!
Thanks for all the input, I've enjoyed reading your responses and had several thoughts.
As a coach, I wholeheartedly agree that its fun to call pitches from the dugout, but while its enjoyable and entertaining, I don't believe it's in the best interest of our catchers after they reach the age or playing level at which they can begin learning this skill.
There is no question that the catcher is in the best physical position to really see and recognize the pitcher's stuff that inning/game, understand the umpire's strike zone, and read the batters' physical adjustments and mental state. IMO, the coach can help review the tendencies and results of the batters due up, and suggest sequences, but the calls need to come from the field or the players won't learn and develop.
What's the right age to transition the pitch calling responsibilities? AmyZ says 12U and up - might be a bit early for some, but regardless, I think the answer is as soon as a player considers themself a catcher (rather than a player who is catching) and begins to show an interest or is capable of understanding the basic strategy (work to the pitcher's strengths and try to alter the speed and location to prevent the batter from making solid contact). We need to teach them this - talk to them when they're on the bench or watching other games (during tourney breaks, on TV etc) and ask questions and provide feedback after innings and games. Initially, let them call pool games and coach call bracket games until you're reasonably confident they can do it on their own (or that they can't) and recognize that sometimes good hitters will hit good pitches - apologies to Hal and those w/ the pitcher as dominator mentality, but it will happen, whether its coach or catcher called.
Unless its a really inexperienced C, I don't agree w/ the arguement that coaches should be making the calls to accept the blame in case a batter crushes one. Is it the coach's fault too when the same kid strikes out with the bases loaded? Give them more credit and let them be accountable, receive credit for their successes, and learn from their mistakes - its good preparation for the real world.
Funny story - Would you ever call 4 change ups in a row on U12 #3 hitter? My catcher did! The result? - called strike out w/ the bat never moving. 1st 2 for called strikes, 3rd as a waste outside, and 4th for called strike 3 w/ batter returning to dugout shaking their head and muttering. After I asked my catcher why 4 in a row (I recommend throwing back to back changes early in a game just to establish that the pitch following a change isn't automatically going to be a FB)? Response was she thought batter was looking for another FB (had crushed one during prior at bat) and seemed eager, never made physical adjustments (e.g., moving up in box or choking up), and became more frustated and anxious as at bat progressed, and besides, she wasn't likely to hit it as hard as the prior at bat. Recommended approach or typical outcome? No, but it happened and is a good example that there's more than one way to do things!
FYI - My opinions may be biased considering I called games on my own from behind the plate from age 11 through college
If the pitcher's dad or coach calls from behind the backstop the catcher will never know what pitch is coming. I'm a catcher myself for a 14U A traveling team and my coach still calls my pitches. Granted I normally know what pitch he is going to call it doesn't put so much stress on me.But my coach is thinking about letting me call a few games. Me and my coach hve a system worked out in a way that I can tell him where the batter is standing. I used to call my own pitches for my old team and we ran into one big issue. My pitcher would shake off too many signs and it seemed like she always picked the last one. If your pitcher has 9 signs it could take a while. We also got in trouble with the umpires for taking to long. In my opinion until a catcher knows what she is doing and the coach can trust her the oach should call the pitches.