Spring is mostly here and teams from MLB all the way down to little league teams are getting ready for the upcoming season. Our high school team is no exception and we've been spending quite a bit of time working through bunt defense drills and 1st and 3rd drills. One of the big things I've been working with our catchers is communication!
Communicating from home plate is a big deal for many reasons, the biggest one is that you consistently have the best view of everything going on. You are the eyes of the team and since you are able to see what's going on, you need to get really good at communicating with your team. This becomes even more important during bunt defense because all the guys coming in to field the baseball have their backs turned away from what's going on and the guys not fielding the ball are going to cover a base. While we still have a job of trying to recover the baseball ourselves if it's close to us, a lot of times we need to be directing our infielders where the ball needs to be thrown.
Lack of communication and poor communication is a killer in these types of situations! No communication and the guy fielding is likely to make a bad choice. Poor communication or hesitating during communication can cause hesitation or lack of confidence in the fielder throwing the ball.
Some of the biggest issues I see with communication during bunt defense are:
1. Lack of confidence in decision making: If you aren't confident in the call you're making, the fielders might second guess that call as well and make their own decision. Be confident and that will translate to your fielders committing to your call.
2. Too Quiet!: You can wrap this in confidence as well, but you can't be quiet when communicating on the baseball field. I was a quiet guy off the field but when it came to baseball and communicating to my teammates I made sure they knew what needed to be done.
3. Late calls: I'd rather have a catcher make an early call for the fielders to throw to 1st base than a late call to try and get the lead runner. When in doubt, go to 1st base.
There are other things but these are what I've seen a lot of. And I really think that poor communication comes down to lack of confidence and lack of understanding the situations. The more exposure catchers get to needing to make these calls the more confidence and understanding they're going to get.
These same issues occur for cuts and relays and communicating with baseballs hit in the gaps. And again, the more experience a catcher can get with reading these plays the more confidence they are going to have in communicating to their teammates where the play needs to take place.
What's something else you've seen from catchers in regards to catchers communicating with fielders?
Hope you enjoyed the article! Please feel free to share this with your team or catchers!