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Catching Skills

Plays At Home

 

LIEBY MAKING THE TAG
Mike Lieberthal Making The Tag

One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the play at the plate. Great throws to nail a runner, or violent collisions at home plate always show up on the highlight reels. A catcher must always assume a bad throw to the plate. In his mind he must be ready to move in any direction to catch a thrown ball, or be ready to drop to his knees and block a poorly thrown ball to keep runners from advancing and still giving himself a chance to pick up the ball and tag out the runner. The catcher must keep the ball in front of him at all costs.

 

When setting up to receive a throw to the plate, a catcher should put his foot on the third base line. His knee should be pointing directly at the runner. If his knee is pointed away from the runner and a collision occurs, there is a greater chance the catcher will be injured. If his knee is pointed at the runner, a catcher has a more solid stance with less give in the knee.

After catching the ball, the catcher should attempt to tag the runner with both hands; hand on ball, ball in glove. If it appears a collision is going to occur the catcher should lower his center of gravity and stay low. Just like in football, low man usually wins.

 

After you have tagged out the runner, get out of the way and locate any other runners that may be on base. Donít allow yourself to get caught up in the play so much that you lose track of other runners on base. Tag out the runner trying to score and look for the next victim. Always be ready to throw the baseball. Look to make the next play. Always stay focused on the game.

 

PUDGE vs. NILSSON
Dave Nilsson losing the ball and mask while attempting to tag Ivan Rodriguez in a collision at home.

One important point that must be mentioned is that the catcher should leave his mask on. An excuse for taking off the mask is that the catcher feels he can see the ball better without the mask on. With that philosophy the catcher should never wear a mask. If you can catch balls from a pitcher 60 feet away and have no problems seeing the baseball, you should be able to see a throw from the outfield. It is also a safety precaution. If the ball is short and takes a bad hop, an injury to the face and head can occur. Safety comes first. Protect yourself from injury at all times in as many ways possible.



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