If your coach has ever stuck you behind home plate, you know that playing catcher is one of the toughest positions in baseball. It's one thing to be a good catcher, but becoming a great one? That's a whole different ball game. However, with the right drills, you can successfully bridge that gap. 

So, you're probably wondering, what kind of drills will help me become a great catcher? 

The Short Answer: The best catching drills can be sorted into two key areas: pop-time drills and blocking drills. These drills are designed to help improve your hand-eye coordination, speed, agility, and ultimately, help you become a brick wall behind home plate. Stick with us, and we'll dive into each one with steps, tips, and ways to measure your progress. We even threw in a couple more drills that will help you master the other key skills needed to become a great catcher.

Note: While this article is aimed at baseball players, the drills you see here apply to softball catchers as well!

Catching Drills to Improve Pop-Time

Pop-time is defined as the time it takes the ball to go from your glove to the infielder's glove at 2nd base. Simply put, reducing your pop-time is the single most important factor in throwing out base runners. A great pop-time isn't just useful in games; it's one of the key metrics that college recruiters look at. So, if you're dreaming of playing at the next level, these drills are going to be essential to your development.

Now, let's get into it. Here are two effective drills to cut down on your pop-time.

Quick Receiving Drill

This drill can help increase your speed from the moment of catching the ball to throwing it.

Infographic breaks down the quick receiving drill.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Get into your catcher's stance ready to receive the ball.
  2. Have a partner throw balls to you rapidly. Practice catching the ball deep and swiftly transitioning to a throwing position.
  3. Work on moving your feet quickly and efficiently, replacing your right foot just inside of the left foot without unnecessary movement.
  4. Continuously repeat the popping motion to develop speed and accuracy, enhancing your overall quickness and reducing pop time.

Shorten Up Drill

This drill is centered on getting your body ready to throw as quickly as possible after receiving a ball.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Emphasize getting the right foot down quickly after catching the ball to facilitate a rapid throw. This helps decrease pop time significantly.
  2. Practice avoiding large steps, which are common mistakes among catchers. Large steps increase the time the foot is in the air, delaying the throw.
  3. Place an object like a pitcher’s rubber, a weight plate, or a mound of dirt just in front of where the catcher's right foot would normally land. This object should be noticeable enough to provide feedback without causing injury.
  4. Go through the motion of throwing while focusing on stepping just far enough to tap or slightly step on the stride stopper. After each throw, the catcher should look down to check the placement of their foot.

Drill after drill, day after day – repetition is the best way to reduce your pop-time. Consistency is key here!

Catching Drills to Improve Blocking

Another critical skill to master to become a great catcher is blocking. This is your ability to prevent pitches that bounce in the dirt from getting past. Effective blocking can stop runners from advancing and potentially scoring, turning the tide of a game. Here, we introduce two drills designed to enhance your blocking abilities.

Basic Blocking Drill

This is your go-to blocking drill. It focuses on improving your capacity to block pitches in the dirt.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. The coach should be directly in front of the plate, about 15 to 25 feet away, and on one knee.
  2. The coach throws balls directly at the catcher (but bouncing just before him), aiming down the middle of the plate to practice blocking straight shots.
  3. The catcher works on dropping to his knees and absorbing the ball with the body to block effectively.
  4. After practicing with straight throws, have your coach or teammate move to a 45-degree angle to each side of the catcher and bounce the ball to the player's outside knee.

Hockey Goalie Drill

This drill is meant to train you in blocking balls under pressure, ultimately improving your agility and reflexes.

Infographic breaks down the hockey goalie drill.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Use two fence posts to create a makeshift goal behind the catcher.
  2. Have a coach or teammate rapidly fires balls either in the air or in the dirt toward the catcher.
  3. The catcher uses any means necessary to stop the ball, enhancing agility and blocking skills.
  4. Have fun with it! This drill is intensive but will help it become second nature to you to get in front of the ball.

Remember, these drills are meant to be practiced again and again. So, don't be disheartened if you struggle initially.

Other Great Catching Drills 

Being an all-around catcher is about mastering numerous skills. In addition to pop-time and blocking, other catching fundamentals can significantly enhance your performance. Let's explore two more drills that will further refine your catching skills.

Protect the Plate Drill

This drill is all about mastering the quick tag. You'll practice catching the ball and immediately simulating a tag.

Infographic breaks down the protect the plate drill.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. The catcher practices catching the ball and immediately performing a sweeping motion to simulate a tag.
  2. Ensure the left foot is on the front corner of the plate to provide a stable base and accurate tag.
  3. As the catcher catches the ball, they should step across with their left foot to get into an optimal position for tagging.
  4. Repeat the movement to develop a quick and efficient tag technique.

Framing Drill

The Framing Drill helps you work on catching the ball in a way that increases the chances of getting strike calls. 

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. The catcher should practice catching the ball over the left knee and on the outside corner of the plate, letting the ball travel across before catching it.
  2. The glove should appear to be on the plate, but the ball should be caught deeper in the glove, giving the illusion that a ball outside the strike zone is a strike.
  3. Emphasize catching the ball with your fingers pointing towards your chest, using three fingers to guide the ball smoothly.
  4. Continue practicing to effectively extend the perceived strike zone.

Around the Horn: How BRUCE BOLT Can Help

That covers our guide on our favorite catching drills. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to improving your overall baseball or softball catching skills. Regardless of the drill, the real game-changer is constant, repeated practice. This repeated effort helps you go from learning the drills to committing the movements to muscle memory. 

Image shows BRUCE BOLT athlete behind the plate.

As you work toward becoming a great catcher, having high-quality baseball gear will help you become the player you dream of being. Whether you're looking for high-performance batting gloves, protective gear, compression sleeves, or bat grips, our products are designed to improve your gameplay and style on the diamond. 

Browse our various collections today to find the perfect gear and accessories to complement your catching skill. Let BRUCE BOLT help you take your game to the next level!

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