A pet peeve of mine is the lack of consideration given to catchers in the pre-game warm-up routine at the youth baseball level.
Watch any youth baseball game and you will find a coach hitting grounders to players in foul territory and likely a coach hitting fly balls to players in the outfield. You will see players hitting soft toss and off tees into nets. And of course, you will see the starting pitcher warming up in preparation for the game.
Why do coaches include this practice as part of warm-up? They recognize the need engage the young player in the movement patterns specific to the skills of the position. These aren’t professionals who engage in these movements every day. These players haven’t perfected the skills and have the room to improve and master the skill. Extra reps in fielding a grounder and making a throw prepares the player’s body and mind for what they will be expected to do in the game.
Professionals, MLB starting catchers, take time in pre-game warm-up to fine tune their skills in preparation for that day’s game. In the video below you will see Yasmani Grandal working with a coach in the bullpen prior to the game to fine tune his catching skills. Additionally, you can see Martin Maldonado working on his receiving with his coach in pre-game.
So, if the best in the world at their respective position take time each day in pre-game to fine-tune their skills, shouldn’t youth players, who are still learning the skills get time in warm-up to practice the skill?
The most difficult position to play in baseball should get as much if not more time than others in pre-game to prepare for the game. This should include both individual work on skills such as receiving, blocking and throw downs as well as time working with the starting pitchers.
It blows my mind every time I see a coach catching the starting pitcher in warm-up. Just as the pitcher gets the time to warm-up and fine tune his pitches before the game, the catcher should get the opportunity to prepare with his battery-mate. This time allows the catcher to work on receiving, gauge the pitcher, his accuracy and which pitches are working for the pitcher that day. By warming up together, pitcher and catcher can get on the same page and even determine how they want to attack batters based upon how the pitcher does in warm-up.
Where catchers get the short end of the bat is that most youth teams don’t have a coach that knows or understands the catching position. They view it as just one player vs. 4 other infielders and 3 outfielders. Most youth coaches don’t understand the complexity of playing the position, so they tend to overlook the need to prepare those playing the position.
I strongly recommend coaches give time and consideration to their catchers during pre-game warm-up. This will both benefit the player and the team