A catcher's receiving mantra is “quiet body, firm hands.” A quiet body means that the catcher minimizes body movement as he receives the ball. Excessive body movement distracts the umpire and makes the pitcher appear less precise. Firm hands means that the catcher does not allow the ball to move the catcher's mitt away from the strike zone. Firm hands does not mean hard hands. The hands are still soft and relaxed but the ball is “stuck” in a way that gives the umpire the best view of where the ball crossed the plate. Keep the toe of the glove up on borderline low strikes. Note how quiet the pro catcher’s body is in the Miami Marlins video.
A ball in the middle of the catcher's stance is caught with the left thumb at 2 o'clock. Pitches caught to the catcher's right the thumb is at 4 o'clock. Pitches caught on the catcher's glove side are caught with the thumb at the 1 o'clock position. The wider the strike, the more the catcher will extend to meet the pitch. A good pitcher's fastball will tail away from the edge of the plate so it is important to meet the pitch that is tailing so that the umpire gets a clear look. See the Creighton and Colorado Mesa videos in the folder for various bare-handed receiving drills. Tennis balls may also be used to practice receiving.
It is critical that catchers are able to recognize when pitches are clearly not strikes. If a pitch is clearly low out of the zone, the pitch should be caught palm up. If the pitch is clearly wide, the catcher should jab his foot and move laterally so that his body stays behind his glove. These early reactions will facilitate good blocking technique and make it easier to throw with good form.
Watch the following videos for a variety of receiving drills: