How to Teach Youth Baseball Catching
Learn how to teach youth Baseball catching in this video with Brandon Smith.
Casey: It is finally baseball season here at Clubhouse Gas. We’ve been spending a lot of time on the course. I will get back to the diamond. It’s a beautiful sunny day and we spend a lot of time with pitcher’s well today we’re going to talk about with Brandon Smith. He’s a catching expert. He’s played at every level all the way up to triple A and he’s going to talk with us about how to start preparing your young catchers at each individual level 9 and 10, 11, and 12 and 13 and 14. It’s a very informative episode of Clubhouse Gas so stay tuned.
We’re fortunate enough now to be joined by friend of the show Brandon Smith, Brandon thank you so much for joining us.
Brandon: My pleasure.
Casey: We talk a lot and we’ve had some different pitching coaches on from the beginning all the way to highest level about how to prepare your pitchers, what’s the highest pitches to throw or especially what age. We don’t talk a lot about catching and especially how to develop a catcher from the young age up. What I want to talk today about is you know when do you start working on what?
Casey: So I guess we can start at, if I have a kid who’s a 9 or 10-year-old catcher what’s the number one thing we need to focus on with that kid?
Brandon: The big thing at the 9 and 10 year old age group is that the guys are able to receive the ball. They are able to catch the ball, give pitchers a good target and to be a good receiver back behind the plate. Now 9 and 10 it’s also going to be important that they are able to block the ball and keep the ball in front because that’s is such a big part of that game being able to control the running game and most of the running game at that age is when we have fastballs or wild pitches.
Casey: The fundamental thing if you’re going to try to do an over or under on a 9 and 10 year old game was how far is the backstop from player.
Brandon: Exactly, exactly, exactly so we’re able to keep that ball in front of the catcher then we’re able to do it to manage the base running game a little bit so there’s are the 2 primary things of that age is being able to catch the ball and block the ball. A kid that you look for to do that as far as their mentality or make up is a good athlete. The guy who can play a little bit, he doesn’t necessarily have to be the best athlete on the field but a guy that can move a little bit. If you have a big guy that’s great but I think even more important than the physical make up is the heart or the mind of this kid. This kid has got to be aggressive and he’s got to really want to get back because not everybody wants to get hit by the ball.
Brandon: Right so to be a good catcher and being able to block you got to have that toughness or a little bit craziness that you may find in some 9 and 10 year olds.
Casey: As far as thanking the one with the 9 and 10 year old level you really want them to set up in the middle of the plate and just provide a target. They’re not going to be going pitches or handle the pitchers or anything like that.
Brandon: Exactly, exactly. We want to make sure they give a good target. The coaches for the most part will call pitches if there are even pitches to be called. A lot of pitchers may just have a fastball certainly they’ll need that. They may have a change up but for the most part yeah we want to give them a big wide target and put themselves in a position to receive the ball.
Casey: So receiving the baseball and making sure it stays in the front of you?
Casey: And then we move to the next level that get to 11 and 12 year old and in this area at least we have 2 different levels of 11 and 12 year old ball. There’s a level where they’re leaving off and stealing.
Brandon: Right, right.
Casey: There’s a level where their not. Where does that change as far as moving up a little and started teaching them a little bit more?
Brandon: Well sure again, in that aspect then we’ve got a running game becoming more predominant so at that level it’s very important that the catcher back here can throw to the bases. To throw the runners out at second and to throw them out at 3rd and that a lot of times the technique. The footwork that is taught there will help catchers improve their overall arm strength, improve their overall success when their trying to control this running game.
Casey: So it’s not just arm strength and arm accuracy but footwork?
Brandon: Exactly, yeah. What I want to try and teach my guys when I work with them is efficiency. You can have a kid with a great arm but if he’s slow coming out the overall time is going to be slower than possibly a kid who has less of an arm but is quicker and he’s more efficient in the way that he receives the ball on the way that he transitions into the throwing position.
Casey: It always amazes me how different sports translate into each other. I’ve had the same exact problem with my quarterbacks when I’m coaching football. You know get the strongest arm in the world and most accurate arm in the world but their footwork is terrible.
Casey: I find myself just working on footwork, working on footwork, working on footwork so we’ve got footwork and throwing and then we get to the 13 and 14 year old age.
Brandon: No 13, 14 year old age. We’re preparing for high school and by that time they need to be pretty well versed at the whole package, they got to be good receivers. They got to know how to frame pitches which is a little bit of a higher level of just catching the ball. They’ve got to be outstanding in blocking the ball and there’s some technique at the higher levels that they can just get to where they lights out behind the plate. Throwing the ball and want them to be a dominant force controlling the running game and then there’s other place such as block and home plate.
On this plate, the plate where the guys get big enough to really get hurt, I want my catcher in a safe position so he doesn’t get hurt but I also want him in a position where he can block home plate to where we save this run and pick up and out. So there’s some more defensive aspect to that as well.
Casey: And what about the handling pitchers?
Brandon: At that age it’s vital. If you get a guy back here who has a good rapport with that pitcher— not just with the pitcher but the entire defense then you’ve got a leader, you got a guy who can continue to play. What happens in baseball it’s often said that 8 guys have their eyes in on 1 guy. So if my catcher back here who all eyes are on a given plate is hustling, if he’s giving max effort, if he’s doing what he needs to do now he’s leading by example.
Brandon: He’s going to be calling plays as far as at that age he’s going be handling the pitcher for the most part. He’s going to be setting matters up. He’s going to be helping pitchers out in order to what his most effective pitch that day. He’s also going to be calling bunt place. You know if there’s a bunt and then player is going to first easy element, first, first, first or one, one, one.
Plays at the play he’s going cut off plays. He’s doing the whole deal so at that age it’s important that your 13, 14 and on up that those catchers have a good head on their shoulder they got a great attitude and they work hard for you.
Casey: Brandon we really appreciate it, thank you so much. We really hope that you’ll come back and maybe take us through some of the more practical applications of how to start instilling these different traits in your young catchers.
Brandon: Absolutely, I would love to thanks Casey.
Casey: That’s going to do it for us today. He’s Bryan and I’m Casey and we’ll see you right back here next time for another great edition of Clubhouse Gas.
How to Teach Youth Baseball Catching
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