Softball Tips & Advice
6 Softball Catcher Tips to Help Improve Your Game
May 18, 2021
Softball Catcher Tips to Help Improve Your Game
It is difficult to be a softball catcher. If you want to learn about some of our best softball catcher tips, you should click here.
Whether you are the catcher or the coach for a softball team, you must always work to improve your game or your players’ games. There is always room for improvement, even for the best softball catchers. Practicing each day is a great way to stay on top of your game, but there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as well.
Being or coaching a softball catcher isn’t always easy. There’s a lot more involved with this position than simply catching a ball as the name would imply. If you want to keep up with the best in the game, you need to do a bit of research.
If you want to dominate the game and help your team succeed, check out this list of some of our best softball catcher tips!
1. Help the Pitcher
A good catcher helps the pitcher during a game. A great fast-pitch catcher will know how to catch a ball with a form that makes even an average pitch look like a perfect strike! But catching balls with style isn’t the only responsibility that the catcher has.
The catcher also needs to know how to save runs from happening by blocking pitches that are thrown in the dirt. A great catcher should block the corners off as well to prevent runners from stealing a base. Softball catchers need to know how to call a pitch and know how to observe the batters.
Observing the batters helps the catcher know each batter’s tendencies and weaknesses. The catcher will then use this knowledge against the batters.
2. Play the Leadership Role
Sure, the pitcher on the team might be in the spotlight more than the catcher, but this is not to take any glory away from the catcher. The catcher in softball is equivalent to the quarterback in football. Catchers are always facing towards the action of the game.
Catchers are the ones in control of where the ball goes. They are the ones who make that call. Because of this, the catcher has a strong leadership role in the game.
A great catcher shouldn’t be afraid to yell out where the play should be and any other directions concerning the play.
3. Control Base Runners
The catcher also has control over the base runners. Keep in mind that in the catcher position, it’s your job to stop the base runners from stealing bases. You’ll need to be aware of yourself, the game, and a good strategy.
It’s essential to keep in mind that you have to divide your focus into both the runners and the batters. This is one of the main reasons why the catcher position is such a hard one to play. In many cases, the catcher will need to keep the focus on the batter rather than the runner.
This is something that a good catcher will know how to determine. It’s all about understanding the game, where the team stands in the game such as runs and runners on bases, and more. If a speedster is on first and there’s one out in a close game, there’s a good chance the runner will attempt to steal. The catcher will need to keep an eye on this player and call for a pitchout to cut the runner off if they think they’re going to run.
4. Practice Throwing Drills
As a softball player, no matter what position you’re playing, you can never get enough practice. As a catcher, you’ll want to practice throwing drills when possible. The catcher’s footwork needs to be quick and strong to pop up fast and hit the target directly.
The way you throw the ball is your throwing position, and it’s something that you want to have down pat. Performing a throwing drill practice regularly is going to help with muscle memory. Once you build this muscle memory, you’ll be able to quickly stand up and throw with strength.
5. Get Your Body Behind It
Don’t always rely on your glove to catch the ball for you. You should work on getting your body behind the ball and your catches. Set yourself up behind the plate to catch the ball with your entire body, not only your glove.
Use your body to block the ball and stop it from getting behind you. To practice this skill, a coach can use tennis balls and throw them at the catcher. Each throw should become wider and wider.
This forces the catcher to move around and block the ball with their body. If you do this drill enough, blocking will become second nature to you.
6. Know Your Pitcher
If the catcher and pitcher work together during every game and practice, the catcher becomes familiar with the pitcher’s tendencies and will know when there’s a problem. A good catcher will notice any issues and walk out to the pitcher to communicate these issues to him or her.
The pitcher will then be able to correct the problem. The catcher has a front-row seat for each pitch, which makes them a real-time review tape. As a catcher, you should know the pitcher better than any other teammate. The pitcher should be the one that the catcher communicates with the most.
Top 10 Tips for Players at Softball Tryouts
by: Greg Cruthers
April 12, 2021
Tryouts are anxious times for many softball players. While some of these bits of advice may seem like common sense, there's a couple that are often overlooked. #7 is one of them. Parents: After you drop off your daughter, find a place to quietly sit/stand and watch. It's okay to chat with other parents, ask questions, etc. Just know that it is likely at some point that you're trying out too. My best advice for parents is to help your daughter to relax, give her encouragement, ensure she has everything she'll need (equipment & waters) and stay away from her until it's over.
I am confident that you and your daughter will find these tips to be very helpful. Best of luck to all of you!
Here are My Top 10 Tips for Players at Tryouts
Dress like a ball player. Wear softball pants; not shorts. Wear a shirt with your last name on it; not a nickname. If you don't have a shirt with your name, where something bright and/or as unique as possible. Please wear cleats; not tennis shoes.
Smile. Act like there's no place in the world you would rather be.
Talk. Talk with the coaches, other players, on the field and encourage those around you. Look everybody you talk with in the eyes and be a good listener as well.
Hustle. Whether running onto the field, getting ready to hit or going through drills, hustle and give 100% (with a smile and while talking).
Leader. Be up front and center. Don't stand in the back or be the last player in the group to go through your drills/stations.
Take risks. Tryouts are not a place to play it safe. Dive, layout for balls, make off-balanced and hurried throws if you must, swing hard; no wimpy swings. Go big or go home!
Be self-sufficient. Have everything you might need in your bag. Stay away from your parents. Don't talk with or even look at your parents during tryouts. They're being evaluated too and coaches do not want helicopter parents or parent coaches.
Look good failing. When you make an error, strikeout or mental mistake, forget about it immediately. Do not have a pity party. Build a bridge and get over it. Laugh it off if you must. And no matter what, do not have a pity party. Some of the most impressive things I've ever seen have been the effort that some players made while failing.
Ask Questions. If there is something you are unsure of or need clarification on, ask. Do not be quiet and/or shy.
Have fun! Let there be no doubt to all those watching that you're having fun playing a game you love, regardless of the outcome! Breathe, relax and be confident. Know that you're giving it your best effort.
Strengthen Your Middle Infield & Strengthen Your Team
March 29, 2021
Except for your pitcher and catcher, your middle infield has the most influential impact on the outcome of your games. Could yours stand to get better? If so, then you’ll want to check out how.
Make sure you know how to improve your middle infield so you can immediately improve your team.
Beyond simply fielding groundballs, your shortstop and secondbase are involved in tons of plays that directly impact the outcome of your games, and yet too often, we don’t help these players improve these seldom-used but highly impactful skills. Sure, we hit them tons of groundballs, and maybe ask them to turn a few double plays, but beyond that, what more can you do? You either have great middle infielders, or you don’t. Right?!
Not even close. Just like every other position on your softball team your middle infielders can tremendously improve with some very specific work. We’ve seem some incredible middle infield play in this year’s college softball playoffs. From diving stops to glove flips to double plays, the middle infielders have been brilliant!
Here’s a quick look at how you can strengthen your middle infielders and in the process, strengthen your team:
If you need a refresher course on double play footwork for both the shortstop as well as the secondbase player, I go into detail about it in our eSkill 032: Fielding – Level 4.
Get to the Base Early & Balanced – Between the shortstop and secondbase they’ll cover all three bases (except home) on both force and tag plays. That’s a lot of ground to cover and they’ve got to cover it fast! The key for your middle infielders is to get to the base early and get balanced so they can receive the ball. If you look at the Early & Balanced picture to the right, you can see University of Washington’s secondbase player, Sis Bates getting into position early, and on the back side of the base, expecting her shortstop, Ali Aguilar to not only stop the ball from going up the middle, but toss it to her covering 2nd. Because Bates got there early it allows her to stop moving forward and get balanced, with her knees bent, which then allows her to be able to react in any direction if the toss from Aguilar is off the mark (which it was not). “Beat the ball to the base” is another way to help your middle infielders get to the base early and balanced, so they can not only make 1 out, but be heads up in case there’s a follow up play.
Take the Right Angle – Angles are the hidden key to every great infield play. The faster the ball is hit the more back, or away from homeplate the player’s approach angle needs to be. While the slower the ball is hit, the more toward homeplate the angle needs to be. If you look at the Angle picture to the right, the yellow circle shows where the ball is – just passed the pitcher’s circle – and because the ball is hit hard, the shortstop must take an angle away from homeplate, or out toward centerfield, in order to have a prayer of being able to get to the ball (which she does, brilliantly). In order to take the correct angle to the ball, the middle infielder must immediately notice how fast the ball has been hit, and what direction it’s going. This happens almost immediately off the bat, so schedule in practice time for your middle infielders to get angle-predicting practice as well as angle-taking practice.
Toss with Your Glove – Because players are so much faster now, fielders don’t always have time to field a ball and then throw it conventionally, with their throwing hand. Sometimes either the angle to field the ball (in the case of great play of Ali Aguilar from Washington that I’ve been talking about), or the combined fast speed of the runner and slow speed of the ball, will require the player to actually toss the ball with their glove. This happens with your middle infielders, as well as your pitchers and corners for plays at homeplate as well as 1st and 2nd. The key to this play is to keep the glove hand spread open wide and to push the ball with your palm, instead of closing the glove first, and then trying to open and toss it.
Make 2 the New 1 – And finally, the middle infielders that can turn double plays as routinely as they make outs at 1st will not only get out of innings quicker, but will keep runners from getting into scoring position. Once you teach your middle infielders to get into position early and balanced, turning a double play becomes much easier.
While it’s easy to watch the incredible athletes competing in this year’s Women’s College World Series and think there’s no way your players could do those things, when you actually break down the skills, their parts are very doable, and very teachable. Great middle infield play looks incredible, is momentum stopping, and most importantly, is teachable!
Top 10 Tips for Players at Softball Tryouts
by: Greg Cruthers
April 12, 2021