The position of the baseball catcher in a baseball team is a very important one. On thrown balls to his right, the catcher should slide the right foot toward 1st base and close with the left. On thrown balls to the left, it’s slide left, close right. When teaching the catcher these two steps, the coach or manager should toss the ball on one side then the other.
Once the move seems to be mastered, it should be pointed out that it takes only a second for a pitched ball to reach the plate. This means the slide-close to right and left must be done quickly and smoothly. It would be well then for the manager to back off about 60 feet and deliberately throw the ball to left and right of the catcher and to throw it fairly fast.
Shifting the feet enables the catcher to both catch the ball and throw. With runners on base, the proper shift becomes more important than ever. Assume the batter is right-handed and the pitch is directly over the plate. What’s the fastest foot-move one can make? Simple. Leave the right foot where it is in the Receiving Position, step forward left and throw. (In the Receiving Position, your feet are wide apart, your tail low. Your glove hand makes the target. The bare hand is loose, with the thumb tucked under the other fingers.)
Assume you have the same situation with the pitch going to the right, or “outside”. Step right with the right foot. Instead of closing left, step diagonally right and forward with the left foot and throw.
On pitches that are “inside” to the right-handed hitter, the baseball catcher steps left for the catch and instead of closing right, steps diagonally right with the right foot, plants it, steps left and throws. It’s to-the-left, to-the-right, forward-and-throw. If the pitch is far inside, causing the batter to jump back, a slight variation will help. Step left, bring the right foot left and plant it directly in back of the left, step forward with the left foot and throw. Use this step, too, if the runner is going from 2nd to 3rd, but throw in back of the batter if he’s in the way.
For left hand hitters:
on outside pitches-step left, bring the right foot in back of the left, plant it, step forward left and throw. On inside pitches-step right, hop diagonally left and forward on the right foot, step forward left and throw. If the catcher wants to throw to 1st with a left hand hitter at the dish, he can throw behind the batter on inside pitches, from in front on outside pitches.
If a manager has two or three catchers on the squad, he can drill them as follows:
have the catchers line up side-by-side with plenty of room between each catcher. Have them face the coach and assume the Receiving Position. The coach can yell out the pitch, then “shift”, the signal for the catchers to go through the steps. “All right boys” the manager, or coach could say. “It’s a right-hand hitter. Get ready for the pitch. Here it comes, low and inside . . . Ready? SHIFT!”
He can repeat that line with all the variations. The teacher cannot spend too much time on this exercise. If a boy is having trouble with the steps, his Dad can help him in the back yard, cellar or attic.
After the Receiving Position has been taught, it’s time to think about working behind the plate.
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