Influence of Backstop's Posture


When a catcher sets himself up, he’s doing things that just might influence your delivery, 60 plus, feet away.

A solid, squared posture, where the shoulders are squared to you, and the kneecap protection is squared and in line with the mitt, offers an excellent mental image in your mind for whatever pitch you’re about to deliver. Stabilizing this image in your mind offers a consistent targeting process that will reinforce your command in so many ways. One of the best stabilizing images is the mitt, squared with the kneecap protector. Any mitt position below that location, enhances the probability of a pitch in the dirt. Pitches in the dirt are a GO for runners on in many cases.

I also want to add, some backstops adopt a side step posture, where the entire body is off to one side. This may be a preferred body posture for some - but, this body posture is easily susceptible to a pitch that’s down and in or away and in the dirt. A pass ball has a high probability in this case. So, if your backstop prefers to slant squat, be mindful of pitches called for that are down and in or away. Any loss of control on your part or your battery mate can mean extra bases with runners on and another set of pitch counts.

In addition, controlling the ball in the mitt, foul tip, and avoiding a pass-ball, stability with controlling the play of “dropped third strike”, is just in there for good measure.

Below is a pictorial presentation of what I described heretofore.


Certainly looking forward to seeing this more as my son moves up the high school ranks!:laughing:


In general, a catcher wants to get as low as possible and set up at the bottom of the called strike zone. I say called strike zone because some umpires are willing to go lower than others. Keep testing that boundary with your set up to give your pitcher the biggest advantage possible. Also spend time working on how to receive those low zone pitches. The hardest ones are to the glove side because the catcher’s arm and elbow tends to get outside of his body if he’s not beating the ball to the spot. Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice some squareness to better present the pitch. Dropping the throwing side foot by 4-6 inches can allow the catcher enough rotation to keep his arm and elbow within his frame and present the pitch better. Beating the ball to the spot is big because you don’t want the glove to follow the the pitch off the plate after it’s in the mitt. The catcher does not want to catch a ball low to the throwing side that’s tailing away in such a way that the glove continues outside the zone and the catcher is tempted to “pull it back.” You are never getting that pitch unless the umpire is late for a hot date. Catch the outside of the ball and freeze it on the corner. If you attempt to move the glove 1-2 inches back to the plate as your mitt closes around it, some umpires go for it, but others don’t like that at all. Often the umpire will give you one ball diameter off the plate away, but are very tight on the inner edge. I found it successful to freeze the ball away and manipulate the glove on the inner edge. Don’t try to yank it back on the inner edge. Think about it. That’s exactly where the umpire’s eyes are set up. You will not fool him and you make him look bad. Here’s another important point, if an umpire is giving anything off the inner edge don’t try to help him out. You may cost pitcher some strikes. Let’s say you try to pull it back over the plate, the umpire will not open himself up to criticism from the opposing coach by calling that pitch a strike and getting ripped from the dugout. “Blue! He moved the glove! Even the catcher knew it was a ball!”

Another good strategy for getting bottom zone pitches that are middle of the plate to away from the glove side is to drop the thumb to dip the web below the zone, then rotate the thumb up as it enters the mitt. This move can get you and extra 2-3 inches below the knee. Don’t try to use this on inside pitches because your thumb will take a beating.

I could go on for days about receiving pitches. I’ll give it a rest for now.