What are the defining characteristics of great catchers? This is the question that begins every post in this series called The Catcher’s Creed: The Defining Characteristics of Great Catchers.

We have all seen great catchers. We know that they have “it.” But, what is “it” exactly? 

So far we have covered CHARACTER and COMMITMENT as the first two defining characteristics of great catchers. 

The next characteristic that is present in all great catchers is COURAGE.

Courage, like many of the characteristics we are exploring in The Catcher’s Creed, is a characteristic that many people are familiar with. Like the others, though, that familiarity can betray a true understanding of what courage actually means. 

Courage, according to the dictionary, is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one.” 

Another way to put it would be the ability to do what should be done even when it’s uncomfortable. 

In the baseball context, all great catchers display courage in two big ways:

  1. Do What’s Right
  2. Lead By Example

DO WHAT’S RIGHT

Is this not the most basic advice there is? Do what’s right. But, we all know that there many examples every day of people doing what’s not right. So what does it look like for a catcher to do what’s right? 

Here are some examples:

  • Treat umpires with respect.
  • Don’t take shortcuts in workouts.
  • Don’t gossip about teammates or your coach behind their back.
  • Follow the rules of your age/league/tournament (e.g. use bats that are legal).
  • Pick up the dugout after your game.
  • Always hustle and give your best effort.
  • Don’t show up the other team.
  • Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
  • Don’t give in, even when the odds of winning are low.
  • Never call a pitch to hit a batter intentionally.
  • Play for the team, not just yourself.
  • Listen to your coach.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good one to get your brain juices flowing.

Great catchers have the courage to do what is right all the time, especially when it’s uncomfortable.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

The basic definition of courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one.” The other definition offered above is the ability to do what should be done even when it’s uncomfortable. 

When are things often frightening or uncomfortable? 

When you’re alone.

We’ve all been there… something is happening that you (and probably everyone else) knows is wrong, but “everyone” is doing it so you go along with it. This happens in many ways in all different contexts of life. 

Great catchers have the courage to lead by example. They are willing to be first. They step up and lead from the front, not relying on someone else to set the example for them.

Whether its playing the game fairly, competing against an opponent, or communicating to a teammate, the best catchers are willing to lead by example even if it makes them unpopular with people who care more about following the crowd than doing what’s right. Every team is going to have players who are lazy, unmotivated, selfish, or just simply bad teammates. Great catchers don’t let those bad apples bring the team down to their level. They lead by example with courage and bring the team up towards its potential. 

GREAT CATCHERS HAVE COURAGE

Want to be a great catcher? You must have the courage to do what’s right and lead by example. Greatness behind the plate is about far more than just your skills. The “IT” factor in great catchers includes proving your greatness with the courage to do what should be done even when it’s uncomfortable

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