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Baseball catchers need to be strong and powerful.
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Baseball catchers are to a baseball team what quarterbacks are to a football team. They need to know everything that is happening and could happen on the field before each pitch is thrown. Catchers need to be strong enough to remain in a catcher's stance for nine innings, fast enough to stop wild pitches and powerful enough to throw a runner out at second base. The workout program for a catcher needs to focus on developing strength, agility, speed and power and should predominately take place during the off-season.
Having a strong lower body is imperative for a baseball catcher to be able to stay down in a catcher's stance. Wall sits are an excellent exercise for building up the muscle endurance needed to do this. To perform a wall sit, the catcher should squat close to the wall with his back lightly touching it. Hold that position for several seconds. Gradually increase the time as it becomes easier. Squats are also important for the catcher as they mimic the movement pattern into and out of the catcher's stance. To perform a squat, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and body weight balanced equally between the legs. Lower the hips until the upper legs are nearly parallel to the floor. Use the back of the legs to push back up to standing position. Younger catchers or those new to catching should start by using only body weight. Older or more experienced catchers should add weight.
Catchers need to explode out of their stance to stop a passed ball or throw down a base runner. Plyometric training will develop the power needed to perform those tasks. For box jumps, the catcher stands behind a box that is 24 inches high with legs shoulder-width apart and weight equally balanced between the legs. The athlete should bend the knees, explode out of the legs and land on top of the box. New catchers could modify this by not using the box and instead doing an explosive jump up, followed by a soft landing on the floor.
Agility training will develop fast feet and the ability to change directions quickly. For the 4-Corner drill, place four cones about 5-yards apart in a square shape. The catcher starts behind the first cone, sprints forward to cone 2, turns and sprints to cone 3 and then sprints back to the first cone to finish. Making quarter or half turns is another good way to develop agility. The catcher starts in his catching stance and quickly shifts his feet and hips either 90 or 180 degrees in the direction that the coach points and then quickly returns to starting position.
Ball drills involve plyometric and agility training and help develop hand-eye coordination. One example of a ball drill is Rapid Fire. The catcher starts in catching position and has to quickly block a ball thrown in the dirt and return to catching position. Do this in sets of five, with a brief rest period in between sets. A variation on this is the Hop and Block where the catcher hops in the direction that the coach points before blocking the ball.
Upper Body Considerations
The velocity and power behind a throw is influenced by proper throwing technique and the strength of the lower body and core. Training programs for baseball players in any position should always include strength and flexibility for the upper body to reduce the risk of arm injuries. Development of the lower body, however, should also help produce a more powerful throw. Before starting any baseball conditioning program, always consult your physician and a qualified strength and conditioning professional.