The goal when blocking a baseball is not simply to block the ball. The goal is to control the ball and keep it as close to your body as possible. The reasons for this may be fairly obvious, but when you keep the ball close to you after blocking it you increase your chances of being able to throw out a baserunner trying to advance or batter-runner trying to get to first base on a dropped third strike.
Now, remember that before spending too much time on this drill you should always start with mastering the core fundamental of getting into the proper blocking position and beating the ball to the spot. This drill assumes both of those things are happening, and once you establish that you have good, basic technique blocking then it’s time to take the next step.
One of the simplest, yet most effective drills to learn to control the ball off your chest is called the Torso Adjust Drill. Start in the blocking position with your eyes on the coach/drill partner. Then, as your coach/drill partner bounces the ball in front of you track the ball with your eyes, anticipate where it is going to hit you on your chest protector, and then make the appropriate torso adjustment necessary to keep the ball in front of you and as close to you as possible.
Be careful not to make unnecessary adjustments. If the ball is going to hit you square in the chest then simply maintain your blocking position without any unnecessary movement. But, if the ball is going to bounce around your shoulders or the side of your chest protector, you can practice a few different options:
- Roll a shoulder one way or the other to direct the ball in front of you
- Raise your chest up because the ball is bouncing high and could hit your mask/shoulder and get away from you
- Lean forward slightly more than normal to “smother” the ball and deaden it right in front of you
One concluding point for you before you go practice this yourself to add this to your next catching practice – this whole drill assumes that you Beat the Ball to the Spot in the Proper Blocking Position. In other words, it begins with the end in mind. If the ball beats you and you are late getting to the spot then the torso adjustments this drill teaches will not matter. Make sure you are working to beat the ball to the spot in the proper blocking position before you worry about making torso adjustments.
Again, this drill is incredibly simple but very effective. It helps you train your body so that you can block balls and keep them close, and it also drives home the mindset that your goal is not just to block the ball – you want to control the ball.
Check out the drill video below to see it in action…
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