Though good pitching is essential in baseball, it is the catcher who forms the anchor of the team on the field. The catcher calls pitches and frames the pitch. He also blocks wild pitches, protects home plate from runners, throws out runners attempting to steal bases and manages the defense of the infield during the game. The position demands strength, agility, leadership and mental quickness. These are some basic drills designed to build the strength and agility needed to be a successful catcher.
While wearing catcher’s gear, take scissor steps along the foul line, alternating left leg and right leg. Do three sets of 20 repetitions. Follow with a bunny hop--two feet together hopping front to back. Again do three sets of 20. Follow with a side slide drill as though you were cross-country skiing. Do three sets of 20 repetitions. Finish with three sets of 10 repetitions, one foot at a time stretching first front to back, and then back to front.
From a squat, hop a quarter turn and repeat. Complete three sets of 10 turns (four per complete rotation). Add straight squats from squat to standing. Add weights in five-pound increments each workout, performing three sets of 10 squats each time. Next start on your knees and hop to a squat position. Do three sets of 10 knee-to-squat hops. Finally, start from one knee and stand. Alternate knees and do three sets of 10.
Do three, two-minute sets of rope jumping: two minutes on both feet, then one minute on each foot separately, then two minutes alternating feet.
Lie on your stomach on a weight bench. Extend your left arm and bend your elbow. Rotate downward and grasp a two-pound weight. Rotate your forearm and hand upward until they form a 90-degree angle at your elbow, your forearm level with the bench. Repeat until your arm tires, and then repeat with the other arm.
Lie on your side with a towel rolled up under your lower armpit. Extend the lower arm over your head. Place the weight in your other hand and push your upper arm out, palm down, level with your shoulder. Repeat until you are tired, and then switch sides.
Next lie on your side and lift the weight from straight in front of you across your body, straight up. When your arm tires, switch sides.
Finish this workout standing up. Hold the weights in your hands at your sides, with the knuckles forward. Raise one arm forward and one arm backward to about a 45-degree angle of elevation. Alternate till you tire.
Set up two boxes about a foot high and about shoulder width apart. Stand in the center and step from the ground onto the right box, then back to the ground in the center, and then up onto the left box. Do three sets of 20 repetitions. Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Weiters recommends this exercise for stretching the hip muscles and maintaining flexibility.
Off Season Training
Perform abdominal crunches and twists, basic upper body work, calf and quad exercises, leg curls and hamstring stretches during the offseason. Emphasize stretching and flexibility exercises for the lower body to keep you flexible for the baseball season. Save your knees in catching practice by sitting on an upside-down bucket, wearing knee braces or pads. Ice your knees after workouts to prevent inflammation.
- Photo Credit fast swing image by Stormy Ward from Fotolia.com
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