What are the defining characteristics of great catchers? We have all seen great catchers. We know that they have “it.” But, what is “it” exactly? The Catcher’s Creed explores the nine characteristics that define great catchers. 

In our last post we started with CHARACTER. While these characteristics are not necessarily in priority order, we did start with character for a reason. Character is in many ways it is the glue that holds everything together. You can read that post HERE.

The next characteristic that makes a great catcher is COMMITMENT. Great catchers are committed. Just like character, commitment is a word that we are all very familiar with but rarely define specifically. According to The Catcher’s Creed, great catchers are committed in three big ways:

  1. 100% Effort, 100% of the Time
  2. Disciplined is the Difference
  3. All In

100% EFFORT, 100% OF THE TIME

Great catchers know that their effort is always 100% within their control. They know that regardless of how good or bad they are playing, or how good or bad they feel, they can always control their effort. The best catchers – the ones that have “it” – give 100% effort, 100% of the time. 

What does that look like practically? Here are some examples:

  • Hustling to back up first base on a ground ball EVERY time… especially in a scenario like the 7th inning of game two of a doubleheader when your team is winning by 8 runs.
  • Throwing the ball 100% down to second base in between every inning. “Saving” your throws so you don’t give away a scouting report is nothing more than an excuse. Throw the ball to second base 100% in between every inning. Those are valuable practice reps for you and your middle infielder and until you make the MLB you are not good enough to take throws off.
  • Block every baseball… including in between innings and in bullpens. Are your legs tired sometimes? Absolutely. Block every ball anyway. Until you are getting paid to catch 140+ games in a season you have no excuse to not block every pitch in the dirt. Those are invaluable practice reps.

That is by no means an exhaustive list but those are three very good examples of what 100% Effort, 100% of the Time looks like. Want to be a great catcher? Make the commitment to give 100% Effort, 100% of the Time. You will stand out, and just as important, you will get better. 

DISCIPLINE IS THE DIFFERENCE 

In many ways disciple is considered a dirty word. Properly understood, Discipline is the Difference between the best catchers and the rest. Great catchers are committed to discipline because they understand the difference that discipline makes in their game. 

What is discipline?

Again, we come to a word that is very familiar but can have many different meanings. For our purposes, discipline means the following:

  • Willingness to do what you know you’re supposed to do, regardless of what you feel like doing
  • Ability to focus on the little details of your game that add up to make a big difference
  • Bringing your best effort consistently, regardless of external circumstances

There are many players who can “bring their A game” for a championship game or when there are scouts in the stands. The truly great catchers are the ones who know that Discipline is the Difference between the best and the rest. They display their commitment through their discipline day in, day out.

ALL IN 

Great catchers are ALL IN. That seems self-explanatory, but what does that really mean?

Bruce Brown of Proactive Coaching wrote a little booklet called “Compete: Traits of an Elite Competitor.” It is an excellent book that we would highly recommend for all coaches, players, and parents. In his booklet he describes five different levels of commitment that will help us understand what ALL IN truly means:

Level 1 – I don’t care. Very few athletes actually fall into this category. For those that do, they have lost any love or passion for the game. Their reasons for not caring could be anything from being forced to participate by a parent against their will to burn out to extreme discouragement from losing all the time. Regardless, players at this level will only do but they are forced to do. 

Level 2 – OK if that is what it takes. Athletes that fall into this category are willing but hesitant. Often times their hesitation comes from inexperience, uncertainty, or the simple fact that no one has ever pushed them to commit completely to their sport and their team. 

Level 3 – OK, but… These athletes are like cancer to a team. They represent the worst kind of commitment. Essentially, these athletes are only committed if their conditions are met to their satisfaction. Examples of this are athletes that are only committed when the team is winning, when things are easy, or when they are playing the starting position they want. Everything revolves around their selfish agendas. 

Level 4 – Obsession. Athletes in the Level 4 – Obsession category are the ones that are literally willing to do anything that it takes to win. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but this is also the category of people that are willing to cheat with performance enhancing drugs, illegal bats, or cutting any other corner possible to get an edge and win. 

Level 5 – All In. This is the ideal. Athletes that are ALL IN are willing to do whatever it takes to help their team and their teammates succeed. They are motivated intrinsically to bring their very best every day. These are the players that coaches and teammates can count on no matter what – absolutely and unconditionally. 

Great catchers fall into the Level 5 – All In category. What’s more, they encourage their teammates to join them in their Level 5 commitment. 

GREAT CATCHERS ARE COMMITTED 

Great catchers are committed, and they show their commitment in three big ways:

  •  100% Effort, 100% of the Time
  • Discipline is the Difference
  • All In

Want to help the catcher you care about be a great catcher? All great catchers are committed and they don’t know any other way to play. 

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