As we mentioned in our last post about receiving HERE, receiving is the most important skill in catching. It’s what the position is named after. Specifically with receiving, there are three keys that we teach at Catcher University to help catchers win pitches for their pitches effectively:
- Quiet Glove + Thumb Under
- Beat the Ball to the Spot + Stay Below the Ball
- Don’t Frame!
In today’s post, we are going to focus on key #1: Quiet Glove + Thumb Under.
A quiet glove is one that has as little movement as possible. There is no extra “noise” with the glove. Smooth, efficient, and firm movements are the qualities that create a quiet glove. The analogy we often use with our catchers is that we want their receiving to be like offensive linemen in football – the better you are, the less you are noticed.
Have you ever wondered how MLB catchers catch 100 mph fastballs like it’s nothing? Of course we have to note that MLB catchers are the best catchers in the world so their skills are clearly world-class, but seriously, why does a MLB catcher look so effortless catching 100 mph fastballs?
If you focus on their glove, you’ll see that it is extremely quiet. There is no wasted movement whatsoever. They present their target, stay relaxed, and then make ONE smooth, efficient, firm movement directly to the spot where the ball will be when they receive the pitch.
Receiving pitches with a quiet glove is important at any level, but it grows in importance as the pitching gets faster and the pitches start to have more and more movement.
Having your thumb under the ball ensures that your hand is in the proper position when receiving the ball. Another way to describe the hand position is “point your index finger towards 1:00 (the #1 on a face clock).” If you place your glove as a target right in front of your chest, this is the natural hand position. You want your glove in the same position for every pitch that you present to the umpire, and you want to use this natural position every time to send the message to the umpire that the pitcher threw the ball where it was intended to be thrown. Changing your glove position for different pitch locations draws attention to the fact that the pitch is somewhere other than on target. Catchers should be able to catch the ball with their hand in the thumb under position on all pitches in the strike zone. If you have to move your glove so much that you cannot keep the thumb under position, the chances of that pitch being a strike are slim to none (assuming a good umpire). If the pitch has no chance of being called a strike, then you don’t need to worry about how you receive the pitch and present it to the umpire.
The picture above shows a catcher catching a pitch in eight different areas of the strike zone, all with his thumb under the ball. Notice that he has some slight body sway or movement on pitches inside or outside, but the movement is minimal and the glove is in the same position for every pitch.
Stay tuned for posts about our second and third receiving keys in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, practice receiving pitches with a Quiet Glove + Thumb Under and you’ll be on your way to winning pitches for your pitcher!
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