HS catchers backing up infielder's throws at first base

Guys,

(Assuming there's  isn't a good reason for your catcher to remain at home plate)

Do you expect/require your catcher to bust a gut to back up all infield throws to first base?

Or,  bust a gut  only on infield throws from up-the-middle and the right-side?

Thanks.

Original Post

Some coaches may feel differently, but I know my son (when he catches) and other catchers in his program are expected to back all throws from the infield.

I've never really questioned it.  It may be seen as overkill by some, but I guess the flip side is that you never know where the ball is going to ricochet if it ends up in the dirt.  Also it's probably a better habit to have the catcher moving on all ground balls, rather than trying to calculate the angle and whether or not he should go.

It may also be dependent on how your field is set up.  Closed dugout, positioning of dugout openings, amount of foul territory, etc. are also considerations.

Rob T posted:

I know my son (when he catches) and other catchers in his program are expected to back all throws from the infield.

.

Rob,

Question:  Busting a gut on ALL throws?  Sprinting like their hair is on fire?

Btw, I'm a coach....not a disgruntled parent.

When I set an expectation, I enforce it. 

Thanks.

My 2017 catcher backs-up all infield throws to 1B when there are no runners on. I'm not sure if he does it if there is a runner only at 1B (I don't think so, but I could be wrong).

As for "busting a gut." I'd say, no, he never full-tilt sprints to 1B. It tends to vary. If it is a slow runner or the runner is not hustling to 1B (it still happens, should not but it does) than he might take it easier. In general I'd say that if my son has fresh legs than he does a slow run/fast jog to 1B. Also, if it is hugely hot and humid and he needs to conserve his energy and legs a bit, he might go a little slower.

The point is to shag a throw that gets by the 1B to prevent the ball from leaving play (not an issue at his HS) and either make a play at 2b, or much more likely--keep the runner from trying to take the extra base. In the hundreds of times my son has done this, I'd say he had to get an errant throw/catch maybe 8-10 times since he started on the big diamond. I'd say the runner stayed put at 1B most of the time but tried to stretch it to 2B 2-3 times. I clearly recall my son throwing out one person who tried and I suppose 1-2 that got to 2B safely.

freddy77 posted:
Rob T posted:

I know my son (when he catches) and other catchers in his program are expected to back all throws from the infield.

.

Rob,

Question:  Busting a gut on ALL throws?  Sprinting like their hair is on fire?

Btw, I'm a coach....not a disgruntled parent.

When I set an expectation, I enforce it. 

Thanks.

Had to text the kid to see what the standard is on busting a guttedness.

He says, "Depends.  Just need to be able to beat the ball to the dugout. Some guys have to run harder than others."

I think it's probably better to set the expectation that they get there as fast as possible, but back it off when the situations warrant it.  You can't really get mad at the catcher for not getting there to make the play if you have set the expectation that jogging down is okay.

Also as has been mentioned - it's not really all that common that the catcher does any good on the bad throws.  I think the only hope is that he gets there in time to keep it from rebounding out of play.  Of course those times where he makes a good backup and nails the runner trying to advance make it worthwhile.

You win games by scoring more runs.  You score more runs by winning more bases.  Defensively, do everything possible to not allow bases.  

Before seeing other posts, my first three thoughts were same as Rob T comments...

- you never know which way the ball will kick

- habit to instantly bust when no one on is way better than allowing for decision time

- know the field and what holes in the dugout need protected

To me, this all adds up to "bust".  

For those commenting that it is rare that a play develops or a catcher does any good, I think we are ignoring the fact that when the catcher does his job and is there in the vicinity of the ball, the runner stays put and there is no play.   That is the objective.  So, we don't always register that a base was just won by the defense.  

 

Our HS catchers typically stand and watch until they get yelled at by the coaches (last year).  I can remember a game last year where one of them was just standing and watching. After about the 5th inning of being yelled at by the coaches, he started his first run, straight down the baseline behind the runner (completely unaware of how it's supposed to be done). 

cabbagedad posted:

You win games by scoring more runs.  You score more runs by winning more bases.  Defensively, do everything possible to not allow bases.  

Before seeing other posts, my first three thoughts were same as Rob T comments...

- you never know which way the ball will kick

- habit to instantly bust when no one on is way better than allowing for decision time

- know the field and what holes in the dugout need protected

To me, this all adds up to "bust".  

For those commenting that it is rare that a play develops or a catcher does any good, I think we are ignoring the fact that when the catcher does his job and is there in the vicinity of the ball, the runner stays put and there is no play.   That is the objective.  So, we don't always register that a base was just won by the defense.  

 

Per my original (slightly edited) post, I agree with you. The only quibble is the subjective "bust a gut" to back-up the throw to 1b. If that means full-tilt sprint every time, instinctively, than I'd say that burns more energy than it is worth given the rarity of the need to back-up the throw and prevent the runner from advancing (=the main point). Of course, on a beautiful day with few runners and pitches in the dirt, I suppose an instinctive full-tilt sprint to 1B for a well-conditioned catcher is a non-issue. But the vast majority of the time, an instinctive move toward 1B in a slow run/quick jog will suffice to address the main point and a full-out sprint every time is not warranted.

The catcher should keep pace with the runner so as to discourage his thought of advancing to second.  The catcher has to be near enough to make that happen.  Running speed will depend on the base runner, but the effort needs to be there. 

Batty67 posted:
cabbagedad posted:

You win games by scoring more runs.  You score more runs by winning more bases.  Defensively, do everything possible to not allow bases.  

Before seeing other posts, my first three thoughts were same as Rob T comments...

- you never know which way the ball will kick

- habit to instantly bust when no one on is way better than allowing for decision time

- know the field and what holes in the dugout need protected

To me, this all adds up to "bust".  

For those commenting that it is rare that a play develops or a catcher does any good, I think we are ignoring the fact that when the catcher does his job and is there in the vicinity of the ball, the runner stays put and there is no play.   That is the objective.  So, we don't always register that a base was just won by the defense.  

 

Per my original (slightly edited) post, I agree with you. The only quibble is the subjective "bust a gut" to back-up the throw to 1b. If that means full-tilt sprint every time, instinctively, than I'd say that burns more energy than it is worth given the rarity of the need to back-up the throw and prevent the runner from advancing (=the main point). Of course, on a beautiful day with few runners and pitches in the dirt, I suppose an instinctive full-tilt sprint to 1B for a well-conditioned catcher is a non-issue. But the vast majority of the time, an instinctive move toward 1B in a slow run/quick jog will suffice to address the main point and a full-out sprint every time is not warranted.

I hear ya but I'm gonna hold my ground and here's why...

One of our primary objectives is to prevent the throw from finding that open dugout or opening/s in the dugout.  So I don't just want the C to be there to pick up the rebound off the fence, I want him to beat the ball.  So, he has roughly 4 seconds to go from squat to protecting the dugout hole.  My math says he better get after it.

Catcher trailing is all about the angle of the throw.  Assuming no runners on, a ground ball hit to 2nd the catcher needs to get in line with the throw, which will be a little more than half way up the line. A ball up the middle or to short, the angle of the throw is heading toward most dugouts so the catcher is basically moving towards the dugout.  Can't say it's a dead on sprint but its not a casual jog either.  A ball hit deep into the hole at short or to 3rd baseman, it's really the RF's job to be the primary back up but the catcher still works towards first in the event the ball takes a funny hop in his direction. 

Catch1721 posted:

Catcher trailing is all about the angle of the throw.  Assuming no runners on, a ground ball hit to 2nd the catcher needs to get in line with the throw, which will be a little more than half way up the line. A ball up the middle or to short, the angle of the throw is heading toward most dugouts so the catcher is basically moving towards the dugout.  Can't say it's a dead on sprint but its not a casual jog either.  A ball hit deep into the hole at short or to 3rd baseman, it's really the RF's job to be the primary back up but the catcher still works towards first in the event the ball takes a funny hop in his direction. 

More good points. Thanks.

cabbagedad posted:
Batty67 posted:
cabbagedad posted:

You win games by scoring more runs.  You score more runs by winning more bases.  Defensively, do everything possible to not allow bases.  

Before seeing other posts, my first three thoughts were same as Rob T comments...

- you never know which way the ball will kick

- habit to instantly bust when no one on is way better than allowing for decision time

- know the field and what holes in the dugout need protected

To me, this all adds up to "bust".  

For those commenting that it is rare that a play develops or a catcher does any good, I think we are ignoring the fact that when the catcher does his job and is there in the vicinity of the ball, the runner stays put and there is no play.   That is the objective.  So, we don't always register that a base was just won by the defense.  

 

Per my original (slightly edited) post, I agree with you. The only quibble is the subjective "bust a gut" to back-up the throw to 1b. If that means full-tilt sprint every time, instinctively, than I'd say that burns more energy than it is worth given the rarity of the need to back-up the throw and prevent the runner from advancing (=the main point). Of course, on a beautiful day with few runners and pitches in the dirt, I suppose an instinctive full-tilt sprint to 1B for a well-conditioned catcher is a non-issue. But the vast majority of the time, an instinctive move toward 1B in a slow run/quick jog will suffice to address the main point and a full-out sprint every time is not warranted.

I hear ya but I'm gonna hold my ground and here's why...

One of our primary objectives is to prevent the throw from finding that open dugout or opening/s in the dugout.  So I don't just want the C to be there to pick up the rebound off the fence, I want him to beat the ball.  So, he has roughly 4 seconds to go from squat to protecting the dugout hole.  My math says he better get after it.

Fair enough. I guess we'll have to disagree on the extremes. I agree with your premise.

Again, on a nice day with good pitching, no "extra outs," and a well-conditioned catcher, a full-tilt sprint to cover 1B on every ground ball with no runners on probably does not make a difference and could conceivably be a game-changer. But when it is 95F, humid, pitchers are bouncing pitches, and defenders are missing some routine plays, all that sprinting (when a slow to moderate run will suffice the great majority of the time) might have a cost. My son's wisest catching instructor (who moved too far away to make continued instruction viable) loved to say "more close games are lost by tired catchers than any other position" by not sticking that marginal 2-2 pitch followed by base-emptying double, critical passed ball, errant throw, etc.

My son is a great catcher for 14 but he is hesitant to jog down to first and its a big issue with me.  Im dad so I dont count.  No coach has made it a rule so.....

Another time to think about is when its a line shot one hopper to the rt fielder.  His travel team will gun out a guy if given the opportunity.  He needs to be lining himself up with that throw (not at first but maybe halfway?) in case that hurried throw is offline.  Be proactive instead of reactive.

 

Batty67 posted:
cabbagedad posted:
Batty67 posted:
cabbagedad posted:

You win games by scoring more runs.  You score more runs by winning more bases.  Defensively, do everything possible to not allow bases.  

Before seeing other posts, my first three thoughts were same as Rob T comments...

- you never know which way the ball will kick

- habit to instantly bust when no one on is way better than allowing for decision time

- know the field and what holes in the dugout need protected

To me, this all adds up to "bust".  

For those commenting that it is rare that a play develops or a catcher does any good, I think we are ignoring the fact that when the catcher does his job and is there in the vicinity of the ball, the runner stays put and there is no play.   That is the objective.  So, we don't always register that a base was just won by the defense.  

 

Per my original (slightly edited) post, I agree with you. The only quibble is the subjective "bust a gut" to back-up the throw to 1b. If that means full-tilt sprint every time, instinctively, than I'd say that burns more energy than it is worth given the rarity of the need to back-up the throw and prevent the runner from advancing (=the main point). Of course, on a beautiful day with few runners and pitches in the dirt, I suppose an instinctive full-tilt sprint to 1B for a well-conditioned catcher is a non-issue. But the vast majority of the time, an instinctive move toward 1B in a slow run/quick jog will suffice to address the main point and a full-out sprint every time is not warranted.

I hear ya but I'm gonna hold my ground and here's why...

One of our primary objectives is to prevent the throw from finding that open dugout or opening/s in the dugout.  So I don't just want the C to be there to pick up the rebound off the fence, I want him to beat the ball.  So, he has roughly 4 seconds to go from squat to protecting the dugout hole.  My math says he better get after it.

Fair enough. I guess we'll have to disagree on the extremes. I agree with your premise.

Again, on a nice day with good pitching, no "extra outs," and a well-conditioned catcher, a full-tilt sprint to cover 1B on every ground ball with no runners on probably does not make a difference and could conceivably be a game-changer. But when it is 95F, humid, pitchers are bouncing pitches, and defenders are missing some routine plays, all that sprinting (when a slow to moderate run will suffice the great majority of the time) might have a cost. My son's wisest catching instructor (who moved too far away to make continued instruction viable) loved to say "more close games are lost by tired catchers than any other position" by not sticking that marginal 2-2 pitch followed by base-emptying double, critical passed ball, errant throw, etc.

One issue growing up with "big catchers" who threw flatter was it looked soooo good.  But they would give up 2-3 or more runs when they couldn't, wouldn't or were too tired to try and block.

My son may not have thrown out every runner, but if they got to third they didn't get home on past balls.  He left em stranded if no hits.

2forU posted:

Our HS catchers typically stand and watch until they get yelled at by the coaches (last year).  I can remember a game last year where one of them was just standing and watching. After about the 5th inning of being yelled at by the coaches, he started his first run, straight down the baseline behind the runner (completely unaware of how it's supposed to be done). 

Which means it's the coach's fault -- never been taught. 

Batty67 posted:
cabbagedad posted:
Batty67 posted:
cabbagedad posted:

You win games by scoring more runs.  You score more runs by winning more bases.  Defensively, do everything possible to not allow bases.  

Before seeing other posts, my first three thoughts were same as Rob T comments...

- you never know which way the ball will kick

- habit to instantly bust when no one on is way better than allowing for decision time

- know the field and what holes in the dugout need protected

To me, this all adds up to "bust".  

For those commenting that it is rare that a play develops or a catcher does any good, I think we are ignoring the fact that when the catcher does his job and is there in the vicinity of the ball, the runner stays put and there is no play.   That is the objective.  So, we don't always register that a base was just won by the defense.  

 

Per my original (slightly edited) post, I agree with you. The only quibble is the subjective "bust a gut" to back-up the throw to 1b. If that means full-tilt sprint every time, instinctively, than I'd say that burns more energy than it is worth given the rarity of the need to back-up the throw and prevent the runner from advancing (=the main point). Of course, on a beautiful day with few runners and pitches in the dirt, I suppose an instinctive full-tilt sprint to 1B for a well-conditioned catcher is a non-issue. But the vast majority of the time, an instinctive move toward 1B in a slow run/quick jog will suffice to address the main point and a full-out sprint every time is not warranted.

I hear ya but I'm gonna hold my ground and here's why...

One of our primary objectives is to prevent the throw from finding that open dugout or opening/s in the dugout.  So I don't just want the C to be there to pick up the rebound off the fence, I want him to beat the ball.  So, he has roughly 4 seconds to go from squat to protecting the dugout hole.  My math says he better get after it.

Fair enough. I guess we'll have to disagree on the extremes. I agree with your premise.

Again, on a nice day with good pitching, no "extra outs," and a well-conditioned catcher, a full-tilt sprint to cover 1B on every ground ball with no runners on probably does not make a difference and could conceivably be a game-changer. But when it is 95F, humid, pitchers are bouncing pitches, and defenders are missing some routine plays, all that sprinting (when a slow to moderate run will suffice the great majority of the time) might have a cost. My son's wisest catching instructor (who moved too far away to make continued instruction viable) loved to say "more close games are lost by tired catchers than any other position" by not sticking that marginal 2-2 pitch followed by base-emptying double, critical passed ball, errant throw, etc.

I have to agree with cabbagedad.  It's the catchers job (when the bases are empty) to be in position to prevent an error from allowing a batter to get into scoring position. 

There are two other potential outcomes:

1. The runner attempts take second base and is thrown out by the catcher.  The first time a catcher does this, he won't ever have to be told to do it again.  As 2forU indicated, the catcher doesn't run down the line, he runs toward the dugout/fence.

2. If the runner makes an attempt at 2nd, even if it's just a step toward 2nd.  The catcher needs to get the ball to the first baseman to tag the runner.  If the umpires are paying attention, you might get that out despite the error.  Of course the runner has to make an attempt at second, but it does happen, especially with aggressive running teams.

jdb posted:

That changes the equation.  Catcher stays home, directs traffic, and protects against runner advancing on - lord forbid- another throwing error. 

Heaven forfend! I always told my son in LL, don't make a fielding error WORSE by following up with a throwing error. Still see that unfold on the big diamond from time-to-time...

I wouldn't say it was a full-out sprint, but yes there were plenty of times I'd almost make a game out of it. I wanted to beat the runner to my location (wherever that was on a particular ball) before he made it to first base. Did it always work? Probably not. And people talk about how it does do this and it doesn't do that, whatever. But I read this recently with regards to something else, but it makes sense here too... "You can't quantify on prevention." 

My catcher son -- going to a D3 college in fall -- tells me that he backs up all throws to first when no one is on base. Stays home when there are runners because home plate then is his primary responsibility. Anecdote from a showcase. My son sprints alongside the runner to back up throw to first base. Throw is a bit offline and tips off the glove of the first baseman. My son catches the ball in the air and prevents the runner from advancing to second. The coaches noticed.

One of the best 15u/16u catchers I ever saw (also coached)....busted his butt down the line on EVERY play. Obviously not with runners on 2nd or 3rd.  We never brought it up...he just did it.  We also played him in HS my son's junior and senior years....same thing...EVERY play.   Probably helped that he was a WR in football and one of the most athletic kids I have seen for a kid his size.  In 2 years of travel ball (60-ish games) I don't know if I ever saw him take it easy.  The pitchers loved him.....other coaches commented on him almost every game (heck, a couple tried to steal him from us lol) and to this day I think he would have made a great college catcher.  He decided to enter the Marines and has steadily moved up in rank in the 2 years he's been there.....would have loved to see what he could do on a baseball field in college, but also very proud to know that he decided to serve our country. 

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