Blocking… oh heck yeah!

Blocking is one of the “Big 3” catching skills that every catcher should be spending lots of time on. While all the skills in catching are important and fun to teach, all of us at Catcher University especially enjoy teaching blocking.

Why?

Because blocking shows us who really wants to be a catcher.

One of our sayings is that “your attitude towards blocking is your attitude towards catching.” If you don’t like to block, you either need to change your mindset or change your position. 

In this post we are sharing the No-Hands Blocking Drill. This is an amazing drill for catchers of any age/ability level and we find it particularly effective for three main reasons.

Mindset = #1!

When it comes to blocking it’s essential for every catcher to understand that your mindset is the #1 most important thing in blocking. If you don’t want to block then you won’t be an effective blocker. If you’re not an effective blocker, you can never be an effective catcher.

Why is mindset so important?

Because blocking is inherently irrational. As a catcher your job is to use your body to block a hard object traveling at a high rate of speed. The natural human reaction when a hard object comes flying at you is to move out of the way… blocking is literally the opposite!

Taking away the hands when blocking takes away a major “safety net” and trains the necessary fearless mindset that a catcher must have towards blocking.

No-Hands = Better Body Control 

The second big reason why we love the No-Hands Blocking Drill is because it trains better body control when catchers are blocking. Catchers can appear to be in the <Proper Blocking Position> and yet still be off balance and/or out of control because their hands can anchor to the ground like a crutch to stabilize and balance. When you take away the hands from the <Proper Blocking Position>, you force the catcher to have much better body control.

Body control is very important to train in catchers because the goal is not simply to block the ball… it’s to control the ball. You want to be able to block the ball so that the ball stays as close to you as possible. The closer the ball stays to you after you block it, the quicker you can retrieve the ball and the better you can control runners from advancing on balls in the dirt. 

Focus = Block with the Chest 

The third big reason why we love the No-Hands Blocking Drill is because it puts the emphasis on using your chest to block the ball. One thing we talk about a lot as catchers become more advanced, especially our older high school/college catchers, is that they should be “athletes on their knees.” Another way to phrase it is that we want catchers to be as dynamic as possible when they are blocking. We don’t want rigid statues that drop into their Proper Blocking Position but then don’t make athletic adjustments to their body position as they block. 

Now, all that being said, the core foundational skill of blocking is always the ability to use your chest to block and control the ball. The No-Hands Blocking Drill trains catchers to focus on using their chest to block and control the ball first and foremost. Then, once catchers have a a firm foundation of being able to use their chest effectively, they will be able to build on that skill with athletic body adjustment to block more difficult pitches with greater control. 

Conclusion + Drill Notes 

In sum, the No-Hands Blocking Drill is a fantastic drill for catchers of any age/ability level. This drill can train any catcher from beginner to professional because of its focus on the fundamentals and ability to scale the difficulty level with increases in velocity and variety in toss locations. 

One quick drill note is that it is probably best to use tennis balls with this drill for almost every catcher. The hands protect the groin area of a catcher so removing the hands exposes that area, and using tennis balls will help alleviate any issues with the ball hitting a catcher in the legs, groin, or cup. The video above uses baseballs because that is a college level catcher, I (Matt) am very good at bouncing the ball high enough to avoid the groin, and the toss speed for the drill demo was not very fast. Regardless of ability level, though, tennis balls should be used any time the toss speed is challenging for the catcher or the bounces are inconsistent. 

FREE Daily Drill Series Practice Plan

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Each drill includes a full explanation for the purpose, setup, execution and includes a full demo video.

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