About Us

Next Level Catching Academy prides itself on being a grass-roots organization.  Our philosophy and teaching practices vary pending on the ages of our catchers and our instructors have experience with the very foundational levels and specialize in college-prospect catchers.

All of our instructors have played at least at the collegiate level with three having professional playing experience.   NLCA is also very blessed in bringing out guest instructors that bring a different, fresh perspective to the the development of our catchers.

Our Mission

The mission of Next Level Catching Academy is to leave a transformative and empowering impression on our student-athletes by teaching them components of catching (mental, physical, leadership) because catching is the most important and often the most under-coached position on the field.  

We recognize that when your player develops into a great catcher, it will open doors to amazing life experiences in baseball. We serve as a like-minded group of coaches that provide catching instruction to catchers who love the position and who have aspirations of reaching their full potential in this great game of baseball. 

The Spark...

Although the catching academy did not open until a few years later…one of the biggest influences for starting this academy was beloved MLB catcher Stephen Vogt whom Justin Duarte was honored to coach at Azusa Pacific University. 

“Stephen was such a tremendous catalyst for the development and systems for training because he stretched my ability to coach and adjust our college training.  He drove me to create and test a catching curriculum for college catchers which proved to bring some amazing results for Vogt and others taking part in the training.  This initiated the spark and grew a conviction to bring this college-style of training and package it for other passionate catchers.  My vision was to bring the training to other young men and help them experience their greatest goals.”

~Justin Duarte-Founder of Next Level Catching Academy

We have proudly served Southern California catchers since 2010, starting as a small grass-roots organization and growing into an academy that now trains over five hundred catchers per calendar year.  Justin Duarte, Javi Ochoa, and Michael Surina laid the foundations for training in the early years as they set a vision and executed the college-style training principles that remain to this day. This college-style training was planted many years prior when he and fellow APU catchers would train under their position coach, Scott Winterburn (current Univ. of La Verne Head Coach 2002-present).  The training system not only developed a string of nationally recognized catchers but also created a love and creativity of training that is rare to find.  

From 2010 to 2018 the catching academy specialized in training the high school catcher with the aspiration of playing collegiately, but as the word spread the demand to train younger players became too great to ignore.  In 2019, NLCA added an age group and began training catchers between the 5th and 8th grades (pre high school ages) giving more opportunities for younger catchers to prepare for the upcoming high school years.  

The Skills

NLCA trains many unique skills that make catching the most difficult position to perform on the diamond.  Our objectives and drills are challenging to each player’s ability level in many areas, starting with the fundamentals, then progressing through the advanced skills as consistency increases.

NLCA continues to elevate its methods of instruction, demonstration, and correction of movements in all aspects of throwing technique (including picks from knees), Stance/Receiving (all pitches bordering the strike zone), Block and Recover (lateral blocks), Pop-up priority, Wild-Pitches, all Bunt plays, and the most exciting play in baseball, Tag Plays at home plate (footwork, glove work, including communication and anticipating).   These and other sub-skills are what make catching the most difficult defensive position on the field…yet often, it is also the most under-trained. 

We do not limit our instruction to just the physical skills of catchers we will also discuss leadership and other nuances to the position that allows our catchers to grow in their catching IQ and their character.  While we stress the kinesthetic feel of new skills through repetition, we teach anticipation and proper application while at times adding competitive components to stress and test their performance.

All skills are broken down and instructed on with detail and focus using a whole-part-whole approach to teaching  (see previous years’ clinic summary on YouTube).  Each drill/repetition has a purpose that will become a habit, which will lead to consistent action for that particular skill.

Our catching sessions are level and age-appropriate and we work towards teaching and challenging each catcher to his ability and skill.  This is made possible due to our small catcher-to-instructor ratio (at or under 5 to 1).  We feel that our catchers learn best in a smaller group setting with hands-on instruction that allows for maximum repetitions. 

We pride ourselves in being accessible to catchers, parents, and coaches to answer questions and to give clarity to anything pertaining to our partnership.  We specialize in Video-Analysis for those attending our camps and we provide Progression Charts for Pop-times and Block-Times that allow our catchers to track their progress with objectivity as they train with us over time.    

The bottom line is… if you LOVE Catching, you’ll LOVE our training camps.

To contact us, please send an email to nextlevelca@ymail.com