We preach and preach about the catcher being the leader of the team. The Captain of the Defense, the Coach on the Field, the person in charge and so on.
What better way to demonstrate that we believe these things to be true than to have the catcher call the game? There is no better way to represent the leadership we want from our catchers than to allow her to call her own game.
Before you start with the arguments about why this isn’t the best way to prepare your team to win, let’s think logically and answer a few questions:
1. Who catches every pitcher on your staff?
2. Who knows every pitcher personally and how her mood is on any given day?
3. Who has a direct view of the batters’ stance, position in the box and potential holes in her swing?
4. Who directly controls the game?
The obvious answer to all these questions is the CATCHER!
Yes, some catchers are less experienced and will sometimes call the wrong pitches. However they are learning from everything that they call. (And what makes you think the coach sitting on the bucket doesn’t screw up, too?) If you give your catcher the opportunity to start recognizing game situations, hitters’ tendencies, and pitchers’ tendencies, they are going to make a much more powerful impact on the game.
What do you gain by allowing your catcher to call her own game? A much more knowledgeable catcher who understands the game better. It also allows them to better lead their team. It requires the catcher to stay in the game, be more attentive, pay more attention to what others players’ roles are in the defense and relay better information to the coaches as they attempt to make adjustments. Thus showcasing their true ability to LEAD!
OK, so you’re not convinced you say? The catcher can’t have all the notes and information that someone in the dugout has, they don’t have the knowledge that a coach might have and on and on the list goes. Good arguments but not enough to convince me that the catcher can’t be more effective than the coach in the dugout.
As a coach you can offset these possible shortcomings by doing a couple very simple things:
1. Share your game plan with the catcher and pitcher. How you want to pitch and why.
2. Monitor your catcher to be sure she isn’t getting onto a pattern that is easily detected.
3. Encourage your catcher to communicate with the pitcher, umpire and coaches as the game unfolds.
4. Demonstrate confidence in her! If your catcher believes you have faith in her she will call pitches with confidence.
5. Do a post-inning or post-game meeting to evaluate how the game developed, what worked and what can be improved.
6. Do not play the blame game if a pitch gets crushed or a pitcher gets hit (even when the pitcher is your daughter).
It’s time to walk the walk! If we want our catchers to really lead our teams, let them lead.
About the Author: Claudia Cooper played at North Carolina State from 2006–10. She had the second highest OBP for the Wolfpack during her Junior season and rounded out that year with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. After graduation, she spent the 2010–11 season as a student assistant at her alma mater. Since leaving NC State, Coop has been a staff instructor at Elite Training Academy, coaching individuals, small groups and teams. Book her here.
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