Blocking is arguably the most difficult aspect of catching. It’s also where you truly find out how bad you want to be a catcher.
At Catcher University we always say, your attitude towards blocking is your attitude towards catching. If you don’t like or want to block the ball you should find another position.
Blocking is irrational in many ways – you are using your body to stop a hard object that is moving very fast. It hurts when you get hit with the ball, and yet as a catcher are you throwing your body in front the ball rather than getting out of the way.
Without the proper mindset towards blocking you’ll never be a great blocker. Before worrying about the physical aspects of blocking, check yourself to make sure you have the right mindset.
Now, assuming you have the right mindset, your blocking position is a huge factor in your success blocking pitches. What follows are the 6 Keys to a Great Blocking Position.
THE 6 KEYS TO A GREAT BLOCKING POSITION
Using the picture below as your reference, here at the physical points of emphasis in the blocking position:
- Knees at least shoulder width part. Even though you are on your knees, you still need to be athletic. Many catchers have a tendency to land with their knees too narrow. Be sure that your knees are at least shoulder width apart and your weight is on the inside part of your knees.
- Glove covering 5-hole with right hand behind your glove. Your glove should be in the dirt, covering your 5-hole, with your right hand behind your glove for protection. Most balls will bounce up and hit you in the chest, but you have to be prepared for the rare ball that skips and stays low. If the ball gets through you, it is your fault, so be sure that you cover your 5-hole with your glove.
- Elbows tucked into sides, not in front. In addition to the 5-hole, another potential way for the ball to get through is if your elbows are not tucked into your sides and you leave a gap between your elbow and the side of your body. You also want to make sure your arms are tucked into your sides, and not in front. The more your arms are in front, the easier it is for them to get hit with the ball.
- Upper body tilted forward slightly. You want to keep your back straight but angle your upper body so that it is tilted forward slightly, just like the picture above. This will help you keep the ball in front of you, and ideally, close enough to you so that you can retrieve the ball quickly after blocking it.
- Shoulders rounded. For the same reasons that you want to tilt your body forward, you want to round your shoulders forward. If your shoulders are back (or your scaps are pinched), then your chest will be out and rounded and it will be more difficult to control the ball as you are blocking it.
- Chin down. It is essential that you keep your chin down for two main reasons: 1) You protect your neck. It is not fun to block a ball and wear it in the throat, so keeping your chin down helps you protect your neck. 2) You can see the ball all the way into your chest. We teach our catchers to track the ball with their nose because that bring their chin down every time.
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