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NFCA Coaching Tip Of The Week: Catching

One of the most exciting moments in a softball game is the play at the plate. One of a catcher's greatest assets to catch a thrown ball and tag the runner as she slides into home plate. Three types of plays can be made at the plate: the force out, the double play and the tag out.

Force Out: The catcher executes a force out the same way a first baseman does. The catcher positions herself in front of the plate and aligns herself facing the fielder throwing the ball. The catcher squares her shoulders, shows a target and calls for the ball. When the ball is thrown, the catcher strides toward the ball with her glove foot while keeping her other foot on the plate.

Double Play: One of the best rally stoppers is a home-to-first (or home- to-third) double play. The quickest and safest way for a catcher to execute a double play is the "drag and throw" method. Many catchers receive the ball as explained above, but are vulnerable to the sliding runner. The drag and throw method allows for the catcher to be clear of home plate and away from the base line for the throw.

Just as she does for the force out, the catcher faces the fielder throwing the ball, squares her shoulders, shows a target and calls for the ball. Unlike the force out, the catcher positions herself behind the plate. As the ball is thrown home, the catcher begins to move toward the ball, stepping over the plate with her glove foot. As the catcher's momentum continues forward, she drags her other foot across the plate.

After the catcher receives the ball and has gotten the out at home, she then turns her hips and shoulder toward the base she intends to throw to.

Tag Out: The tag play at the plate is perhaps the most exciting play in diamond sports. The catcher sets up with her left foot on the third base oul line. She positions herself with her shoulders squared toward the fielding player, showing a target and calling for the ball. The left foot is used as a pivot, while the right foot is positioned toward the spot the ball is being thrown from.

As the ball approaches the catcher, she gets low in her position. Once she receives the ball, she should cover it with both hands. As she covers the ball, she places her left shin on the ground. This allows for a safe position for her leg. If the catcher has contact with the base runner, the body positioning will allow the catcher's leg to give with contact.