LESSON #3 – BLOCKING
Dugout Captain’s How to Coach – Catching #3 is led by Brent Mayne. Coach Mayne is a 15-year MLB veteran, former 1st round draft pick, author of the book The Art of Catching, and an advanced scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. This how-to-coach series is designed to provide an instructional foundation that you can use to work with your own athletes. Coach Mayne packs loads of instruction into the videos, and Dugout Captain has worked hard to break it down to teachable chunks. It is included here in outline format:
PART I – CATCH PLAY & RECEIVING REPS
Review (5 mins) – While playing catch, review the following bullet points. Then, drop into a comfort stance and practice receiving the baseball.
- Four-Seam Grip
- Target = Head
- Sign-Giving Stance – Narrow base, drop straight down, glove to side, hand to cup.
- Comfort – Relaxed and tension free. Tall posture to present pleasing target.
- Blocking/Throwing – From the comfort stance, raise the butt several inches and move to the balls of the feet. Hand moves from behind body to behind glove.
PART II – DISCUSSION
Dugout Captain pulled three main themes for blocking that should be understood by the athlete:
- Results – A catcher’s goal is to keep the ball close, so that a throw can be made.
- Physicality – Blocking is violent. Blocking is explosive. Blocking isn’t fluid, pretty, or soft. Strike like a snake!
- Anticipate – The best tool to prepare a catcher to block is mental. Anticipate what type of pitch is being thrown and where it might miss.
PART III – DETAIL
With an understanding of blocking goals in place, move discussion into the fundamentals of moving from the blocking/throwing stance into a proper blocking position:
- Knees Drop – Rather than roll forward to fall onto the knees, Coach Mayne teaches the knees to drop straight down. This stops any forward momentum. Athletes will have to athletically get the feet out of the way!
- Upper Body – Arms stay outside the body with the glove blocking the hole between the knees.
- Eyes – Follow the baseball into the chest. This keeps the upper body athletic, tucks the chin, and creates a forward posture tilt without thinking.
PART IV – REPETITIONS
Practice moving into the blocking position without a baseball. When ready, move into repetitions with a baseball and focus on results: keep the ball close!
- No Baseball (5 pitches) – Pay special attention to the knees – are they getting straight down to the dirt?
- Live Blocking (10 pitches) – Give a sign, position the glove, and move to the blocking/throwing stance. Throw the pitch in the dirt and practice the art of blocking.
- Block & Pounce (5 pitches) – Sign, target, stance. Block the baseball and pounce into the throwing position.
- Judge Results – If the ball is close to you, you’ve done well. Get ‘er dun!
- Stop Forward Momentum – Can’t roll forward or move into the baseball. Must be still. Some of the best pros actually give with the pitch, almost recoiling and softening the impact.
Multi-Block – Five balls thrown successively from 25-feet away. Block –> Feet –> Block –> Feet etc. Goals are quickness, strength, athleticism.
Either/Or – Strike vs. ball in dirt. Tests reaction!
Ball Behind Line – A competition to keep the blocked baseball inside of a 4-foot ring.
- CATCH PLAY - REVIEW & RECEIVING
- DISCUSSION - BLOCKING
- DETAIL - BLOCKING
- REPETITIONS - LIVE BLOCKING
- JUDGE RESULTS - KEEP IT CLOSE
- STOP FORWARD MOMENTUM
- Baseball Buckets1
- Catcher's Gear1