Before we explore today’s tip, first let’s review a few requirements for the successful blocking a wild pitch.
Remember, blocking is really three things combined into one:
- First, the bounced ball must hit the catcher squarely in the chest area.
- Second, the resulting ricochet must stay close to his body.
- And to complete the play, the catcher must have enough athleticism to bounce on the block and throw out an aggressive base runner.
For today’s purposes, let’s take a better look at the second part--keeping the block close. If you recall, the reaction of two things moving towards and colliding with each other is going to be dramatic.
In other words, if a catcher is still moving when the ball strikes his chest, the ricochet is going to bounce too far from his body to be effective. To best control and predict the trajectory of a blocked ball, the catcher must have stopped his forward momentum by the time he and ball meet.
Gotta Get Down
I’ve seen a wide variety of blocking methods, but almost all the good ones share this common trait. That is, good blockers get down quickly and with violent conviction.
I’ve yet to see someone get the job done consistently with slow, soft movements. For some reason when you go at a block lethargically, the body never completes it’s movement and the ricochet becomes impossible to control.
Need for Speed
So to sum it up and to simplify, make all of your blocks one speed...fast. Regardless of the pitch’s velocity, be it a slow breaking ball or a fast ball, your reaction if it’s in the dirt is going to be violent and quick.
With that commitment, it just boils down to timing. Obviously, for an over-the-top curve you’re just going to wait longer than a hard slider to start the whole process.
Once comfortable with the timing, the violent blocking technique ultimately allows a catcher to stop body movement at the right time and control the ricochet of a wild pitch.
And when a catcher can do that, his pitching staff can go for the strike out and stay down in the zone with confidence.
Brent Mayne is a 15-year veteran of the Major Leagues. He ranks 75th in the history of baseball with 1,143 pro games caught, and his .993 career fielding percentage is 4th all-time. Brent is the author of the book "The Art of Catching"--a comprehensive guide to teaching and building defensive catching skills.