We had another great fabulous clinic down in Orange County and we continue to be grateful to those at Capistrano Valley High School that make this possible and for those catchers from Orange County that continue to pull us to that region.
“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 be effective in slowing down the opponent running game. Many of our catchers who are growing into a stronger arm have proven to be very successful with this training method, and those who have plus feet with plus carry, will shut down the opponents running game altogether.
Other areas of work for this clinic included Tag-plays at the plate (Left-Rt-Lt footwork, tag posture and working low to high to field the ball). We also got into some good bunt plays and bunt pops with the focus of being explosive as we implement sound technique with our foot path and low center of gravity.