Often the catcher does not see a pop up right off the bat. The first place to look is dictated by the location of the pitch. For example, if a right-handed batter pops up an inside pitch, turn toward 3rd base. If the pitch is in the middle of the plate or outside, turn away from that batter. As the catcher looks for the ball, the mask is held in hand. Drop the mask only after the ball is located so there is no risk of tripping over the mask.
The key to catching a ball near the plate area is to recognize that the ball will drift back toward the mound. The catcher should face the backstop to catch a popup. If there are runners on base, keep an eye on the lead runner after the catch.
Tip: Get a good jump out of the catcher’s box on popups that are far from the plate. If you think a ball might be too far, don’t give up on it and if you’re close, dive for the ball. Even if you don’t make the catch, diving for a ball demonstrates superlative effort. It gets your team fired up and sets the tone for your defense.