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10/8 Catcher positioning

Apr 28, 2019
835
43
Did anybody catch the Rays/Astros game last night? Early in game 3rd inning I believe and really set the tone for rest of game. Everything seemingly going Rays way.
Perfect example of how to set-up for a play at the plate. Stand out in front of the plate, receive the ball and slide off to the 3rd base side blocking the plate and forcing the runner to take an outside approach, and then swipe tag for the out. No complaints of obs, no argument from coaches, players just kudo’s from announcers and people that appreciate things done right.
Now some will say you can set-up anywhere you want but why risk an obstruction call?
This was just a perfect illustration of positioning I mentioned on an earlier Obs post. Applies to all catchers softball and baseball.
Keep yourself safe and make the play.
 
Sep 29, 2014
2,039
63
Nice play....although if he doesn take the turn a mile wide and slide directly to the plate...might have just made it ;)
 
Apr 16, 2013
874
43
Ok, it's funny that this play was brought up here. I rarely watch baseball anymore, mainly because I'm internet only (with my bedroom having antenna reachable local tv) TV with sling/amazon/netflix being our only "programming". That means they block all games, so I just don't bother with baseball anymore. BUT, I was out eating with my wife's visiting family, RABID St Louis fans, and saw that very play on the TV.

First, here's my understanding of the "blocking rule" that's made its way to MLB and down to softball. ONCE you have the ball, you can block the path to the base. It seemed to me that the damn spectacular throw was on mark and the catch had all but the backside of the plate blocked, leaving a "path" for Altuve. Did that count? I, too, thought that had he slid directly into the plate he probably would have beaten the sweeping tag, while taking out the legs of the catcher. His WIDE sweeping "hook slide" made it possible for the swinging tag to make contact. 20/20 and all that.

That being said, how would this have played out in a softball game? My DD is a catcher and in the past, or hell sometimes now due to habbit, would straddle the plate allowing a slide path between her legs; but once caught the ball, would bring it down and block all paths to the plate. If you want to drop your shoulder and plow in... good luck and prepare to feel what it's like to plow into a brick wall. However, I don't FULLY understand how the rules work. Now she's trying to learn the front of the plate then sweep the tag method. That very play helped to cost a play at the plate this past weekend. Our #1 catcher was well ahead of the runner, got the ball, swept for the tag but was way ahead, sweeping right in front of her while the player slid in behind the tag. My DD's method would have stopped the runner dead in her tracks.

Would a play like this be up for interpretation? The catcher's knees were basically blocking 90% of the plate, but his upper body wasn't.

This should be a good discussion. :)
 
May 7, 2015
125
28
SoCal
To me, there are a number of different techniques depending on the age and how advanced your catcher is. In todays game, I don't ever recommend to my daughter to straddle the plate after the catch and drop down to block the entire plate. She did that once as a first year 12 one month into the division (she didn't drop to her knees, instead she positioned herself in a linemans squat to place the tag). Ho-Lee-Crap... A 14u play down, it was fall and the girl should've played 16u, annihilated my daughter at the plate with a head first shoulder tackle right to the chest. She held on to the ball but I've never been closer to an actual physical confrontation between managers. Dirty play.

Since then, I always practice making sure to give the runner a lane. One thing I always reiterate, keep the throwing hand out of the glove on the tag (risk of getting cleated if the tag is placed on the left side of the catchers body). My daughter was once taught by an accomplished catcher to give a lane and upon receipt of the ball, slide over and cover the entirety of the bag with a dropped knee with left foot toes forward towards the runner. Then sweep the glove to finally rest in the nook created by the foot / shin guard. The forward toes allow the knee to bend inwards upon contact with the runner and the shin guards prevent getting cleated. The nook provides support for the glove and ball. We never adopted that technique as she was too young at the time, but it makes sense.

Now what we work on is to be soft with the tag and go with the runner. Like you said, you don't want to sweep past the runner, more put it out there and be soft with it. Each play will be different and the catcher needs to appreciate this.
 

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