March 9 Quicken Footwork, Tag Plays, Pop-ups


“Speed up your footwork (and release), by being on time with your foot replacement.”  You want to get the ball down to second base quicker, and with more accuracy and carry?  Let’s talk about speeding up the action and timing of your feet.  Now, it’s not quite that simple, but this is an integral part to throwing and it was our main focus for the days’  work. 

The terms, “pre-pitch” and “step to catch” were used quite a bit on this day because those two elements must work together to quicken a catchers release time.  “Pre-pitch” leads catchers to create rhythm that is aggressive and on-plane with the incoming pitch, while “step to catch” involves the timing of bringing our post-foot to meet the timing of the catch, or to come as close as possible to it.  Just as a good middle-infielder will, when he turns a double play.

Our drill work combined these two elements to create a better Pop-to Plant time.  The concept of Pop-to-Plant is the idea that if catchers can limit the time difference between the pop of the mitt and the planting of the post-foot, the catcher will get to his launch position quicker, release point quicker and will have created better rhythm through the release.  This will correlate to better extension, leading to added carry with more efficiency.  It’s all a cause-and-effect process that works best when the upper and lower halves are in sync, therefore, our practice on hand speed (transfers) and release must also take place so that the feet don’t out-speed our upper extremities. 

This philosophy of throwing is more about the timing of the footwork to the pop of the mitt, than it is about how quick a catcher’s feet replace after the pop of the mitt.  You see many catchers that we coach and scout may have quick feet, but they are tardy to foot-action in relation to the pop of the mitt (or the arrival of the pitch).   Think of how much quicker a catchers release will be if his foot-speed to replace were on time with the incoming pitch?  This is what we seek to teach our catchers and this is the philosophy that gives all other catchers -who may not have lightning quick feet- the opportunity to still throw a sub 2.10 or 2.00 pop-time.  Yes, arm strength matters….but if a catcher has an average arm with good timing in his feet, 2.00-2.10 is possible, which makes this concept much more important when the catcher has average carry.  A varsity level high school catcher who is late with foot replacement timing and who has average carry, will hang out in the 2.24 pop-time range and will labor to reach second base with accuracy.  In most competitive programs, this will not cut it and opportunities may be slim.  This concept allows all catchers, even those who have average feet and an average arm to still effective in slowing down the opponent running game.  And as some of our catchers have proven, when this training method is applied with a catcher that has good feet and good arm strength….the opponent running game will have serious limitations.

Other aspects of footwork that are taught at our clinics lead catchers to be on track with pitches left, right or middle (important for balance and power), which we instructed on in our previous clinic (Feb. 9th).   The nuances of having good-to-great “step to catch” must be practiced consistently and is rather easy to rep.  All that is needed is an incoming throw and a catcher in a half squat, to a full squat.

 Other areas of work for this clinic included Tag-plays at the plate (Foot-work, communication, body positioning and glove-skills) and Pop-ups.

 Join us next clinic for more detailed instruction, a great learning environment and high volume reps that lead to a developing catcher.

 JD

 

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