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NFCA Coaching Tip of the Week


That word alone conjures differing thoughts in the minds of softball coaches everywhere.

When it comes to catching, I'll take a player who never lets the ball go back to the screen and whom other teams will not run on long before a player whose batting average is what makes her stand out.

Keeping runners off base should be the number one goal of any team. If runners do not get aboard, the opposition has a difficult time scoring. When runners are aboard, keeping them where they are or retiring them at the next base is imperative to winning. Holding runners to the base they have just reached and allowing no advancement is a difficult task. Most of the time, that task falls on the shoulders of the catcher.

The more often she keeps the ball in front of her and in her mitt, the better chance the team has of recording forceouts on succeeding batters. Allowing passed balls, throwing wildly on pick-off attempts and allowing a high percentage of would-be base stealers to actually get safely to the next base puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the pitcher and the rest of your defense.

I prefer a catcher with quick hands to one who depends more on blocking. Combine the two and you have a payer who will put the team in a position to win a lot of games.

The best way to develop a catcher is to have her catch. Using a catcher during batting practice accomplishes several things including hundreds of repetitions for the catcher, a real target for the batting practice pitcher and the opportunity to work on all the specials that the catcher confronts. By having several catchers in full gear, ready to go, practice moves smoothly and all of the catchers get plenty of repetitions.

When listening to coaches talk about some catchers, a person gets the impression that the player's offensive statistics should separate players nominated for postseason awards. In some conferences and states, a catcher's defensive statistics aren't even included on the nomination for postseason awards. Proof that offensive firepower is more important to many than are the defensive skills of catchers.

Statistics and percentages play a huge part in softball. Catching statistics should be compiled and emphasized because they are an important part of winning the game. Knowing your success and failure rates in a given situation should dictate the strategy that a coach uses in a given situation.