By: Cindy Bristow
Provided by: Softball Excellence
As a catcher, you're working on blocking and throwing and framing and all the fundamentals, but do you know the 8 ways you can make your pitcher better without ever throwing more runners out!
Pitchers get all the attention, but every good pitcher has a good catcher.
Catching involves a lot of skills, from balance, to agility, to glove work, to strategic thinking to hand and foot-speed, to toughness. But none is more important than the catcher's ability to mentally help their pitcher.
I know, I was a pitcher and my sister was my catcher. She had a very cut-and dry way about her and wasn't one to tell me I was doing great, when in fact I wasn't. But, she could also recognize when I was struggling and would say that one thing that would help me mentally when I needed it the most.
She didn't have the best arm, wasn't the strongest hitter, nobody would say she was fast, but she made All-American as a catcher because she had tremendous skills when it came to getting the most out of her pitchers. Yet pitching to her made ME better! And, me excluded, she caught some of the very best pitchers in the game!
So catchers, what are those skills you have that can help improve your pitchers, help calm them down, and ultimately help them pitch like they are capable of?
1. Have a Zombie-Free Bullpen - Instead of just sticking the glove in the middle of the strike zone and going through the motions in practice, actually work during practice like it's a game. That goes for you and your pitcher.
2. Catch Them All - Every catcher has a favorite pitcher and vice versa, but that doesn't mean you should only catch for her.
3. Tell Her How She Needs to Hear It - Not all pitchers are emotionally equal.
4. Tell Her What She Needs to Hear - While pitchers have different emotional makeups and some need softness while others can handle toughness, all pitchers need to know the truth.
5. Help Your Defense Play Their Best - Pitchers can easily fall apart if their defense starts to struggle.
6. Call Her Best Chance for Good - I realize that most coaches call pitches, but that doesn't mean they have the best view, or even all the information once the game starts.
7. Be the Umps Almost-BFF - The thing about BFF's is they know tons about each other. They care about each other and take care of each other. Basically, this is how you want to treat the home plate umpire.
8. Go See Her - And finally, go out and see your pitcher.
I still remember something my sister said to me in her very matter-of-fact-way, during a tight ballgame, against a very good hitter. She could see I was maybe getting a little tense or freaked out, so she calmly walked out to see me, told me "she can't hit your riseball, so make it good" and went back behind the plate. She was calm and confident, firm and certain. All things I needed at that point. She called the riseball, I threw it and we got her out...just like Sue said we would! I'm telling you - a great catcher makes a HUGE difference to a pitcher!