Catching on: Learning how to dig pitches out of the dirt

In baseball, the catcher's position is usually thought of as the "quarterback" of the team. In addition to managing pitchers, a catcher defends the most important of all four bases, so teams that have a solid catcher wearing high-quality youth catchers gear, may have a valuable advantage over opponents.

The catcher's position is arguably the most difficult position to learn though, meaning that coaches may need to spend more time with their youth catchers as they learn to play the position.

One of the first skills youth catchers must learn is how to keep balls in front of them if a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt. Youth pitchers may be even more prone to doing this, as they may not have yet mastered their fundamentals.

To help catchers learn how to block wild pitches, coaches should stand on the pitchers mound and throw balls into the dirt just in front of the catcher. You may want to occasionally bounce a ball to the left or right of the catcher in order to simulate a pitch that a pitcher really lost control of.

Encourage the catcher to block the ball in whatever way he wants, as long as the ball is kept in front of the plate. A ball that skitters away during a game could mean extra bases or an additional run if a catcher cannot control it quickly.

During the drill, coaches might also ask catchers to quickly throw a ball to the different bases to simulate a runner attempting a steal. Coaches may even stack several cardboard boxes on top of different bases and encourage catchers to aim for the bottom box of the pile, as this is where fielders will need to retrieve a ball to more easily tag a runner.

Young baseball players still learning the game can also benefit from a youth catchers mitt that helps them learn the fundamentals of playing the position. For more youth baseball coaching tips, check out