At Catcher University, we do not frame pitches. The concept of framing pitches comes from good intentions and is taught by many good catching coaches, but it is a classic example of something that looks good on paper but is not effective in a game. The bottom line is this: it is the pitcher’s job to throw strikes, not the catcher’s. We are about to go over ways that the catcher can and should try to win pitches for the pitcher, but at the end of the day it is always the pitcher’s job to throw strikes.

Instead of framing pitches, we talk about presenting pitches to the umpire and specifically receiving the ball in one of three ways at CatcherU:

1. Catch Strikes.

One of my favorite questions to ask catchers is, “how do you frame a strike?” Catchers almost always begin responding with varying techniques or framing strategies that involve manipulating the glove. These are good thoughts, but they are all wrong because we do not frame pitches. How do you frame a strike? You don’t. It’s a strike. If a pitch is a definite strike, just catch the ball with a Quiet Glove + Thumb Under and do not mess it up or draw any unnecessary attention. Remember: the best catchers are like offensive lineman – nobody notices the good ones. 

2. Present Borderline Pitches. 

If the pitch is borderline, there is an art to presenting the ball to the umpire to win the pitch for your pitcher. First, stay quiet and consistent just like you do on every pitch with your thumb under the ball. Getting crazy with twisting or turning your glove only draws attention to the fact that you don’t think it’s a strike.

Next, Beat the Ball to the Spot + Stay Below the Ball and draw the pitch towards your chest slightly as you are catching the ball. This is only possible is if you beat the ball to the spot. If you’re late getting to the spot with your glove, simply do you best to stick the pitch right where you catch it. You are always better off just sticking the pitch where it is pitched than trying to make up for being late by moving your glove too much after you have already caught the ball. Subtlety is key when drawing the ball towards your chest, and “less is more” is always the best approach.

When presenting borderline pitches to the umpire, the goal is to earn the umpire’s trust by proving that you know the strike zone that day. If the umpire trusts the catcher, then the ump is more likely to be influenced by the catcher presenting borderline pitches as if they are strikes. 

3. Get Rid of Obvious Balls.

If the pitch is an obvious ball, catch it and get it back to the pitcher as quickly as possible. Do not waste any time with a pitch that is an obvious ball. The catcher’s goal is to preserve credibility with the umpire at all times. Remember: it is the pitcher’s job to throw strikes, not the catcher’s. 

 Again, framing pitches is a concept that makes sense on paper and one that is taught by many catching coaches, but it is not effective. It is the pitcher’s job to throw strikes, no the catcher’s, so the catcher needs to focus on 1) Catching Strikes, 2) Presenting Borderline Pitches, and 3) Getting Rid of Obvious Balls. Doing too much will discredit you with the umpire and ultimately work against your efforts to win pitches for your pitcher.

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