Catching Skills

Calling The Game


Catching is a very physically demanding position, but it also requires a lot of thinking, strategy and wits. A catcher must be in the game every moment and must be aware of every little nuance that takes place. Calling pitches is not an isolated task from everything else going on around the field. Every pitch called depends upon both the batter and the game situation. It's not a skill one learns overnight. Learning how to call a game takes patience.

The first part of "calling the game" starts with the batter's stance. Where is he standing in the batter's box? This small detail can help decide which pitch to call. If the batter is far back in the box, a catcher may want to call a drop or curve. Get the batter to chase a low pitch. If the batter is crowding the plate, call for an inside pitch. Ideally, the pitch should be on the batter's hands. This might sound simple, but you'd be surprised how many young catchers don't do it.

The next part is getting to know the batter's preferences. Besides keeping book on him, a catcher can talk to the batter and learn an awful lot. As they say in the spy game, "Loose lips sink ships" and the same can be said for baseball. Chit chat can reveal quite a bit. Also, pay particular attention to what kind of pitches they are struggling with and what ones they jump at and what ones they lay off. This little bit of intelligence can give your team the edge.

The last part is knowing the game situation, which is unique for every At Bat. For example, with a runner on third and less than two outs in a close game, what pitch should be called? The answer is a sinking ball that crosses low, which the batter will hit on the ground. Avoid calling pitches such as a rising ball that the batter can hit into the air for a sacrifice fly. Each situation is different and sometimes there is more than one option to choose from. Don't be afraid to experiment and, if you make a mistake, learn from it. Game Calling strategy takes time to develop.

Home plate is 17 inches wide. All a pitcher wants is the 2 inches on each side. The hitters can have the 13 inches in between, because a pitcher doesn't throw there. As a catcher, you have to help your pitcher master a variety of pitches that take advantage of these two outside 2-inch zones. Practice painting the black with every pitch you call. Remember, batting is a matter of timing; the goal of pitching is to upset that timing.

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