I’ve always considered catchers as the one of the hardest working players on the field. These players have a different mentality to the game than typical field players and I truly believe they are one of the most athletic players on the field. As incredible as these players are, I find little true catcher specific performance training designed for their needs. I am aware, as is everyone on the softball planet, in certain companies that specify in catcher’s skills and mechanics. I’m so grateful that people are taking notice and sharing their expertise within the catching community. But I still see a bit of a gaping hole in the specific performance training for catchers. I’m going to share with you some of the performance training methods I use to focus on developing skills that are inherent to catchers. I like to divide up their skills into what I see is necessary to perform behind the plate and what makes a catcher extraordinary behind the plate. Please remember we are talking about simply training your catcher in performance skills.
Here’s some necessary movement skills
The ability to move easily behind the plate in a natural primary position, blocking, running after a pass ball or moving towards a bunt.
Strength skills-Catchers need some basic leg strength, mobility in the ankles, knees and hips, lower back and core strength and arm strength.
Let’s not forget endurance. Some catchers can catch up to 5 or 6 games a day in90 plus degree weather. They need the endurance to withstand that type of playing time with a smoldering hot helmet and their suit of armor.
Ok these are basic attributes that a catcher must possess just to perform. How does that sound? So, if your catcher is a beginner or let’s be honest, not in the tip top physical condition start with these skills. As a catcher, you are most likely not getting any work specific to your position unless you’re doing it on your own.
Here’s a good starting program
I like to start off with timed workouts. It gives me a chance to see what kind of shape players are in. Each exercise is a minute long with 20-30 seconds’ rest in between each exercise. If a player need a longer rest period, please give it to them. I usually determine the number of rounds by the time I have with players and the type of shape they are in. Be aware of finding a good balance between keeping the routine challenging and your players passing out.
-walk out push ups
-some kind of jumping movement-box hops, leap frogs, jumping knee tucks
I choose all five of these because they contain skills essential for athletic development, are specific to the skills I mentioned above and it’s a tough workout.
Here’s a more advanced workout for catchers that are in advanced shape and really need to step it up to the next level;
We’re going to keep time again. Each exercise is performed for 1 minute with 20 seconds rest and no exceptions.