Calling pitches from the dugout

Consultant posted:

It is the Coach's responsibility to teach the catcher to "call the game". Recently Carl Nichols former MLB catcher and our American Team Coach offers this comment/

Carl Nichols If a coach is calling pitches for me, I don't have to pay attention to what the hitter is doing. I only need to turn my head to the dugout for the next sign. I don't pay attention to what adjustments the hitter is making. I don't pay attention to the pitcher's stuff or the effectiveness of his pitches. I don't pay attention to the umpire's strike zone. I don't pay attention to the score, the situation, who's on deck and more. All those are factors that go into calling pitches. If someone else is doing the thinking, how am I learning?

Bob

Bob, Carl had a lifetime batting average of .204.  Maybe he should have let the coaches call the games so he could have focused more on other things  

Sorry Bob, totally kidding.  There is much merit to both sides of this argument.  We are talking HS.  In your world with the better events you are involved in, many of the catchers are fundamentally sound, know the game well enough and have played hundreds or thousands of games at a competitive level so they have experienced enough that they could theoretically be effective in calling games.  If you are talking about most average HS catchers, they are working plenty hard just to become proficient at the basic fundamentals.  It takes years of competitive game experience and good perspective from all angles of the game to come close to maximizing effectiveness of calling pitches.  That said, some young catchers are great game awareness guys and thinkers.  Others are not (most, in my experience).  So, it is case by case.  Of course, it also depends on the quality of coaches you have available to potentially fill that role.  And, yes, pitcher ability factors in as well but if you don't have your HS pitchers at least making an effort to execute the pitches/locations being called, you have much bigger issues and have no business coaching HS players. 

I got a chuckle from the post that talked about HS catchers wanting to call all fastballs, all the time.  Because my experience is exactly the opposite.  Kids fall in love with the breaking stuff. 

Want proof?  Next time your pitcher gets to an 0-2 count, call a fastball right down the middle and watch as the batter freezes and strike 3 is called.  You could do it again against the same hitter later in the game and get the same result.

Somewhere along the line, kids got taught that you throw a curve out of the zone on 0-2, period.  But if it's predictable, what good is it?

BTW, who is teaching kids that every curve should be a chase pitch?  When you do that, batters soon figure out that they can leave the bat on their shoulders for anything with spin, and sit dead red.

Midlo Dad posted:

I got a chuckle from the post that talked about HS catchers wanting to call all fastballs, all the time.  Because my experience is exactly the opposite.  Kids fall in love with the breaking stuff. 

Want proof?  Next time your pitcher gets to an 0-2 count, call a fastball right down the middle and watch as the batter freezes and strike 3 is called.  You could do it again against the same hitter later in the game and get the same result.

Somewhere along the line, kids got taught that you throw a curve out of the zone on 0-2, period.  But if it's predictable, what good is it?

BTW, who is teaching kids that every curve should be a chase pitch?  When you do that, batters soon figure out that they can leave the bat on their shoulders for anything with spin, and sit dead red.

So true. Good stuff Middy.

Midlo Dad posted:

I got a chuckle from the post that talked about HS catchers wanting to call all fastballs, all the time.  Because my experience is exactly the opposite.  Kids fall in love with the breaking stuff. 

Want proof?  Next time your pitcher gets to an 0-2 count, call a fastball right down the middle and watch as the batter freezes and strike 3 is called.  You could do it again against the same hitter later in the game and get the same result.

Somewhere along the line, kids got taught that you throw a curve out of the zone on 0-2, period.  But if it's predictable, what good is it?

BTW, who is teaching kids that every curve should be a chase pitch?  When you do that, batters soon figure out that they can leave the bat on their shoulders for anything with spin, and sit dead red.

Chuckle all you want, but my experience with catchers calling pitches is the opposite of yours.  They have been way too fastball dependent - and it has been consistent across the board. Maybe you have coached more ambitious catchers than I have.  Agree with everything else you said.  

This might be a long post so skip it if you don't have the time.

A good coach does both.  He calls pitches to teach his catcher the way he thinks and his philosophy while at the same time, he makes sure that the catcher is evolving to a point where they will take over calling pitches.  

First, the system I used was to use the face and tell the catcher that my face was like his face when he faced the pitcher.  The location would be the same regardless of which side the hitter hit from. First touch was always location.  So, right cheek would be outside and left cheek would be inside.  Forehead would be up and in while chin would be low and away.  Both of them would be borderline out of zone.  Now, no matter what I touch, nothing matters until I touch the indicator which is the nose.  The first touch after the nose was the pitch.  Nose-right cheek is fastball.  Nose-chin is curve.  Nose-left cheek is slider or 3rd pitch if pitcher has an option and the pitcher catcher work that out.  Finally, nose-forehead is change up.  

This is pretty simple and so, anyone should be able to do it.  Naturally, I have not accounted for pitch outs and pick offs.  I did a lot of that verbally.  However, if I gave a series and ended it with touching my nose, I wanted a pick off.  

Even with this, you need deception.  If I tapped the top of my hat, the catcher is calling the next pitch regardless of what I signaled.  That would be the in place until I tapped the top of my head again.  So, if my opponent had a runner on 1st and they were "on to my system" and would signal a pick off is coming when I ended a series by touching my nose, I tapped the top of my hat and then gave the pick off signal.  I loved it when we had runners diving back in while the ball was being delivered to the plate.  

When the catcher was calling a game, he could tap his head for me to call a pitch in a key time in the game.  If the catcher looked at me when I was signalling and wanted to call the pitch because he saw something, he could tap the top of his head.  

Finally, a lot of coaches don't let their catchers call games because they don't practice having their catcher call games.  We rotated our pitching staff to the mound in just about every bp session.  They would finish their bull pen work by throwing to three or four hitters.  This is the perfect time to teach a catcher how to call a game.  Typically, we staggered the bull pen sessions so that our #2 would start about 5 minutes after our #1 and on and on.  When #1 ran to the field, #2 was finishing.  #2 to the field while #3 was finishing.  In that way, my catcher could do a lot of work learning how to call a game while at the same time learn a lot about the pitching staff. 

I hope this post hasn't been too long and that someone got something out of it.  

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