“A Functional Relationship, By Our Standards”


A Functional Relationship, By Our Standards

By: Michael Surina/ Next Level Catching Academy

            If you believe your catcher is intelligent and you know that he has considerable experience, it is a good thing to leave the game almost entirely in his hands.

-Bob Feller

The dialogue between a pitcher and a catcher is an aspect of the game that is only known between a pitcher and a catcher. It is an un-fairy tale romance that we would not have any other way.

We bicker like a married couple and love each other like brothers. We always remember that it is ok for us to make fun of our brother, but if you do, we’ll knock you out.

It is the same relationship that brings those together, and tears others apart. The marriage counselor would have a headache over this one.

In the midst of a battle, it is our job to aid our brother through the turmoil of the game and what is going on within his mind. We will never understand the turmoil in the midst of our pitcher’s mind as he stands alone on that mountain of an island we call a pitcher’s mound.

The pulse of the game beats upon the tempo he allows the game to live with. It is alive this game.

He lives with a lot of pressure and he needs his counselor, brother, husband, teammate and friend to help him through it.

Know Your Own Personality

Do not try to be someone you are not. There are many occasions throughout the game you, as a catcher, are going to interact verbally with your pitcher. When thinking about these occasions, we often times think of a moment within the game where we are “firing” him up. The truth is, this occasion occurs only once in a great while. The majority of the game is spent on talking about pitch calling, their opposing line-up, and on some occasions, the girl in the stands.

We need to remember that we must always be ourselves. Within ourselves is a light-hearted personality, a tough personality and a joking personality. We cannot be someone we are not because our pitcher will pick up on that right away as we are first and foremost his friend. As a friend, he knows us as well as we do. It is the confidence in him that our pitcher needs to see from us to allow him to build his own confidence level no matter the situation of the game.

During specific moments of the game, we have the ability to tap into those personalities in attempts to bring the best out in our pitcher. He cannot do it on his own and we have the ability to aid him on his journey. If we are attempting to be something or someone we are not, there is not truth or valor behind our words. They are just words. We cannot put our emotion into an action that is not truly us. Our pitcher will see through our fake words and will not identify with who we are. We will be as clear as mud to him as words will be that and our presence will not be known to him. We will be a stranger in the midst of the confusion in the game giving advice to which is not recognized and not related with.

We need to be ourselves and use our personality to help us on our journey as well.

Assess the Game

Too many times we sit by as coaches and see our catchers filled with too much emotion when talking to their pitcher when up by 8 runs and your pitcher is cruising. At the same time, we all too often see our catchers become passive in conversations when it is a two-run ball game with bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh when his pitcher needs him the most. It is up to us, as catchers, to understand the game, its energy and what the game calls on us at the moment we are in.

Once we understand and identify the moment in the game we are in, we can then know how to communicate with our pitcher. We cannot give him a “ra-ra” speech up by eight in the fifth. He will mentally call us a joke and ask us politely -in his mind- to go back behind the plate, catch the pitch, win the ball game, and go get a burger.

Emotion is a strong response action we must use lightly and carefully to allow it to achieve its full potential. Emotion and energy are like a shiny toy. The more we use it, the less that toy shines and it is not as special. We are ready to move on and get a new toy as the old one no longer has its spark. We lose our spark as catchers if we are too emotional too often. We become just a voice to our teammates in the background of the game as a noise is heard and words are no longer present. We cannot be that guy! We are the brains behind the operation and use our emotions/knowledge wisely when called upon. It will make our pitcher/catcher team better.

Once we have understood the game, we must now understand our pitcher.

A lop-sided score. Late in the game. Let your pitcher(s) do his thing.

A lop-sided score. Late in the game. Let your pitcher(s) do his thing.

Who Are You Catching?

This may be the most important question to ask yourself. Who are you catching? When asking yourself this, you are assessing their personality and their make-up. Everyone has different personalities in terms of what makes them who they are. Some people prefer to be coddled and guided through life. Other people like to be challenged in a situation and rise to that challenge. Others are a little bit of a mix between both of them. Having a primary friendship with our pitcher first allows us to know who our pitchers are. From that point, he is in our hands.

FInd the best method to handle his psyche...

Find the best method to handle his psyche…

Once you have assessed who your pitcher is on the mound, use that in your favor to get what you need out of him. Do not try and turn someone into who they are not. If he needs to be coddled, coddle him. You are not trying to change someone’s life in the process of a game as a player. You are trying to support him through his personality traits

On the adverse side of that, if you have a bulldog on the mound, feed his ego! Stand eye-to-eye with him and challenge him. Individuals like that enjoy feeling the pressure of a challenge in a tough situation. Individuals like that enjoy feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders. Allow them to succeed by engaging their personality.

The eyeball test!

The eyeball test!

If I Had A Magic Pill, I Wouldn’t Give it to You

It's not meant for us CATCHERS!

It’s not meant for us CATCHERS!

This may sound like a lot to take into account when playing baseball. Some of you may be thinking, “What happened to the care free easy game I played when I was nine and ten?” The truth is, it is still there, the game has just grown since your adolescence.

The journey through this game is what makes a person grow. As you can tell, a catcher needs to wear different “hats” throughout the course of a game in handling others; especially pitchers. We are the captains of the field and deal with everyone on a personal account. The only way a person can grow is by putting themselves out there, being vulnerable, and allowing them to be better themselves.

We urge you to experiment with your personality as a catcher in how you relate and communicate with your pitchers and others. We also urge you to instill your personality into the game itself. There is not one way to become the catcher you wish to be. It must be sought after.

If I had the recipe to make my players an All-American, every one of them would be; but it is not that simple. You will understand who you are as a player and a man while you discover new things about yourself. By getting outside of your comfort level within this game, you will start the view the game in an entirely new light. Colors will be crisper, the ball will come slower and the game will become clearer.  It is the journey that sparks new growth within in you. It is being uncomfortable for just a moment to become who you want to be as a leader on the field and with your pitcher.

Catcher's are the x-factor of the thriving pitching staff.

Catcher’s are the x-factor of the thriving pitching staff.

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