Blocking is a core skill for the catcher. The hands and body should move forward and down from the ready stance to the blocking position. Most balls in the dirt are off-speed pitches. It is helpful to move forward so that the catcher closes the angle. The catcher's hands and knees should all hit the ground about the same time. The right hand should be behind the mitt, chest angled over the ball, chin on chest, knees wide and hips sunk down. The body should be stationary and relaxed when the ball hits the chest protector. It is important for the catcher to recognize that trying to catch a ball in the dirt will increase the likelihood that the ball will get past him. Block, don't catch, balls in the dirt.
On balls that are wide, it is essential that the catcher moves his foot so that his body is centered on the ball. Some catchers initiate the lateral movement with their hands while other catchers jab their foot first. We leave the choice of how the catcher moves laterally up to what works best for the individual.
- Shadow blocks are a way to reinforce perfect blocking form without worrying about the ball.
- Coach thrown blocks can be done at any speed and intensity. Remember that retrieving the ball is part of blocking. We also exhale in our blocking position to soften the body as part of the drill.
- Block and throw is a drill that simulates a block when a runner attempts to advance.
- No hands blocks (movie in the folder) are good to prevent a catcher from fall into the bad habit of trying to catch, rather than block, a ball in the dirt.
Tip: It's surprising how many catchers do not include shadow or practice blocks in their pre-game warm-up. For a catcher, blocking is as important as hitting and throwing. Always execute some blocks pregame.