Baseball Catcher Tips: How to Properly Block a Ball
When a pitch comes your way, you need the toughness to stand your ground and the agility to stop the ball from rolling out of reach.
Blocking is a true mindset. You need to be a bulldog at home plate to smother the baseball and keep it in front of you. Your pitchers need to trust that they can throw any pitch and you are going to keep it from getting to the backstop. It all starts with getting into the right position.
To take proper blocking position, drop from your receiving stance to your knees and keep a wide base. Sit up on your toes rather than back on your heels. Place your mitt in between your legs, touching the ground to keep balls from going through the “five hole.” Tuck your arms in tight to your body to keep baseballs from sneaking between your torso and arms. Angle your chest forward towards the plate with your chin down and keep your eyes on the ball, following it into the dirt. The goal is to deaden the ball, keeping it close to your body so you can recover and stop runners from advancing.
You can practice blocking with the following two drills:
First, get into your blocking stance. Have a coach or teammate get about 10 feet in front of you and flip baseballs towards your body, landing them in the dirt as you track the ball all the way towards your belly button. This drill gives coaches an opportunity to correct your body position while you become more comfortable with the ball coming towards you. For younger catchers just starting out, you can start this drill with tennis balls and work towards using actual game balls.
Second, have the coach move back toward the mound and throw with more velocity. As the receiving player, you should start in a standard secondary stance so that, after the coach pitches, you can quickly drop into blocking position. Keeping a soft chest and body will help deaden the ball and keep it in front of you. Practicing this way replicates in-game blocking.
You should have the mentality that you’re going to block every ball into the dirt. Practice this technique and gain the trust of your pitchers.