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Developing a catcher (9-10yrs old) advice

May 28, 2019
27
3
My DD is 9 yrs old, nearing 10 soon enough. She's been switched to catcher over the past several months as her team transitioned to kid pitch play. She has a very strong arm (although its been like training a wild horse sometimes with accuracy). She's a strong girl, a bit stiff and its difficult teaching her new techniques/motions.

She has a very decent glove which is why she's back there. It's been difficult to train her to block balls in the ground with her body. She keeps resorting to stabbing at them and lots of times is getting away with getting job done. (i understand is natural for young kids)

Also, at 9 yrs old in a 10u league, she has 5 throw outs at 2nd base so far and about 4 at 3rd. This isn't counting a few at 2nd that were thrown/caught/tagged then followed by a drop. All in all, i haven't seen any other catchers making these type of throw outs. My DD's biggest fault is she kind of charges her throws which has a slow release time. She's taking either 2 or 3 steps and is usually finishing her throw a foot or two in front of home. I guess i need to work on her release footwork. Not sure she'll like the Pop technique too much.

With it about to be off season again, i just looking for a few tips of how to start working and training her to get ready for next year and find ways to improve. I don't have a catcher set at home so its been hard for us to work on much. I need to invest in a set to keep home to practice with. Would like her to learn to block consistently as well as move side to side in her blocking.

Overall, i find its been a successful transition for her having to learn a lot of the rules and responsibilities of the catcher in a quick time period.

catcher.jpg
 
May 24, 2013
10,263
113
So Cal
If you're the one working with her, the best thing you can do is educate yourself. There are a lot of technique details that are critical to being efficient and effective, while staying safe.

When I started training my DD at 9yo, the fine folks on this site pointed me to a DVD from New England Catching Camp (now known as The Catching Camp). It turned out to be some of the best money I have ever spent on softball. The DVD is out of production, but here is a link to the video....https://vimeo.com/ondemand/neccdvd

They have revised some of their info over the last 5 years, but this video remains an excellent resource for coaches and parents.

As for blocking, it's one of the most difficult things to learn how to do as a catcher. It's a very complex series of movements that has to be executed very quickly. It needs a massive amount of reps to learn the right movement pattern and execute it properly every time. It's also a significant mental hurdle to execute that move in a game situation. Be patient. It will come.

For you...As I said, educate yourself. Be militant about making sure she's staying safe on every rep. This means good body, hand, and arm positions, and making sure the throwing hand is properly protected at all times. Broken fingers are no fun.

As you exemplified above, throwing to bases gets the most attention, and is the most impressive to a lot of people. However, throwing out runners is not the #1 job of a catcher. What is the #1 job of a catcher?...catching!! It's pretty easy to make a good pitch look bad with poor receiving technique. Keeping strikes looking like strikes, however, requires well-practiced skills. It starts with having a good receiving stance - stable and strong. The goal is to stick pitches where they are - catch and freeze. Don't try to pull balls to the middle of the plate. Just catch pitches where they are thrown, as firmly as possible, working around the outside of the ball.
 
May 24, 2013
10,263
113
So Cal
For throwing footwork, I don't care for "pop and throw". First move is bringing the right foot under the torso, with the instep of the foot facing the direction of the throw. From there, the left foot strides forward as the hands separate for the throw. Have your DD work slowly through the sequence while standing up. No extra steps. Repeat, repeat, repeat until it's the new habit.

Here's it done at a pretty good speed (after 5 years of working at it)...
 
May 28, 2019
27
3
Thanks for tips and video link. And yes educating myself is most important. A lot of this has been learning as i go. I'll watch a bunch of youtube stuff here and there but its difficult with different presentations of techniques and/or different styles and learning which comes more natural for your own dd.

I did kind of start teaching her "framing a bit". I guess i'll need to re-brand the discussion point to "receiving". LOL She's done a good job of picking it up a little bit and holding the catch.

She's doing a catching camp at LSU in a few weeks. Its a 2 day pitcher/catcher camp followed by 2 more days of other stuff. Looking forward to that and hoping that she can pick up some skills and also continue to get motivated to better herself.
 
Mar 22, 2016
304
43
Southern California
Thanks for tips and video link. And yes educating myself is most important. A lot of this has been learning as i go. I'll watch a bunch of youtube stuff here and there but its difficult with different presentations of techniques and/or different styles and learning which comes more natural for your own dd.

I did kind of start teaching her "framing a bit". I guess i'll need to re-brand the discussion point to "receiving". LOL She's done a good job of picking it up a little bit and holding the catch.

She's doing a catching camp at LSU in a few weeks. Its a 2 day pitcher/catcher camp followed by 2 more days of other stuff. Looking forward to that and hoping that she can pick up some skills and also continue to get motivated to better herself.
That's a great start. If you're on twitter, that are some great catching-specific accounts to follow.
 
Apr 28, 2019
833
43
My DD is 9 yrs old, nearing 10 soon enough. She's been switched to catcher over the past several months as her team transitioned to kid pitch play. She has a very strong arm (although its been like training a wild horse sometimes with accuracy). She's a strong girl, a bit stiff and its difficult teaching her new techniques/motions.

She has a very decent glove which is why she's back there. It's been difficult to train her to block balls in the ground with her body. She keeps resorting to stabbing at them and lots of times is getting away with getting job done. (i understand is natural for young kids)

Also, at 9 yrs old in a 10u league, she has 5 throw outs at 2nd base so far and about 4 at 3rd. This isn't counting a few at 2nd that were thrown/caught/tagged then followed by a drop. All in all, i haven't seen any other catchers making these type of throw outs. My DD's biggest fault is she kind of charges her throws which has a slow release time. She's taking either 2 or 3 steps and is usually finishing her throw a foot or two in front of home. I guess i need to work on her release footwork. Not sure she'll like the Pop technique too much.

With it about to be off season again, i just looking for a few tips of how to start working and training her to get ready for next year and find ways to improve. I don't have a catcher set at home so its been hard for us to work on much. I need to invest in a set to keep home to practice with. Would like her to learn to block consistently as well as move side to side in her blocking.

Overall, i find its been a successful transition for her having to learn a lot of the rules and responsibilities of the catcher in a quick time period.

View attachment 14259
Ok I was in your shoes last season. We didn’t have a catcher that could catch my other daughter. She is very fast and we had no experienced catchers. So many passed balls and dropped 3rd strike is was horrible.
I approached my other twin daughter to catch and she was good with the request. She doesn’t have a strong throwing arm due to poor mechanics. We’re working on the mechanics.
Anyway got her some nice gear. Easton Prowess. Recently changed to Diamond IX5 gear. Excellent gear with plastic clips that are quick to get on and off.
Anyway, she is good with high balls and ball in the strike zone. Problem is she won’t sell out on balls in the dirt and hit her knees to block. So I get tennis balls and rubber softballs and throw her balls in the dirt until she gets it right. It’s helped out a lot.
I would recommend Xan Barksdale. He was a catcher and has much good info on catching.
Also there is a woman in our area that played D-3 ball at Tufts and won a couple National Championshis as a catcher.
She does camps/clinics. Her business is called Protect the Plate. Her name is Joanne.
My only issue is she doesn’t like catchers using knee savers. I disagree on this topic and want my daughters using all protective equipment available.
But yeah when throwing down to 2nd 1 step or throw from knees if she has a strong enough arm. I highly recommend a quality camp/clinic to improve/enhance your daughters skills.
Make sure you have a quality mitt with ample padding.
 
May 24, 2013
10,263
113
So Cal
Xan Barksdale is solid.
Jen Schroeder has a lot of good stuff (I disagree with a couple of approaches she uses).
Jenny Topping is definitely worth following.
 
May 29, 2015
894
93
As an umpire ... Please, please, please tell me by “framing” you aren’t referring to trying to sell pitches ...

I’ll leave the drills and such to the coaches (I gave that up years ago), but I will offer a suggestion for getting in some practice time and reps. Find pitchers who are going to pitching lessons and offer to come catch for them.

As a past catcher, don’t forget the mental aspects are just as important. Learn the game, learn situations, study what is happening.

As a parent (Most important!) ... don’t forget she is nine. Make sure this is an interest of hers and be ready to abandon it if her interests change.
 
May 28, 2019
27
3
As an umpire ... Please, please, please tell me by “framing” you aren’t referring to trying to sell pitches ...
because umpires are so brilliant and are never influenced? lol In any case, i watch MLB games and always see the catchers pulling up/in/over pitches. Obviously you pick and choose the ones you sell more. I'm been trying to get her to understand the influence of moving your body with the ball and not just reaching with the arm.

After one of her tournaments where we had talked about this a lot, she would tell me about every pitch she pulled in and "fooled the umpire".... so there. WE GOT YOU!!! j/k
 

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