Knowing your catcher’s touch to touch times is crucial for not only throwing runners out but also in deciding if her throws are getting better.
Learn about touch times and how to improve your catcher’s release times.
As coaches, we want our catchers to throw faster in order to pick off runners or throw them out stealing, but simply throwing faster is a little too vague unless we measure it. The best way to measure a catcher’s throw is to measure what we call her “touch time.” “Touch time” is the time it takes for the ball to touch her glove on catching the pitch to the time it takes her throw to touch the glove of the fielder she’s throwing to.
To time your catcher’s touch times start the stopwatch when the pitch touches your catcher’s glove and stop the watch when the throw touches the fielder’s glove. Be sure to time your catcher at least 4 times so you can get an average time and allow yourself a few attempts to get the hang of it.
Once you get a touch time for your catcher from Home to 2nd you can see where she compares to catchers at various skill levels on the following list:
- EXCELLENT = 1.6 seconds or less
- GOOD = 1.8 seconds
- AVERAGE COLLEGE = 1.9 to 2.1 seconds
- AVERAGE HIGH SCHOOL = 2.3 seconds
Once you get your catcher’s touch times and see where she fits on this list, you can help your catcher improve her times through the following steps:
- Higher Ready Position – with runners on base the catcher should get into a slightly higher ready position to be better prepared to throw runners out. This means her hips should be slightly higher and her chest just a little bit more forward to help her start her throw faster once she receives the pitch
- Expect Runner to Run – don’t be caught by surprise! Expect every runner to run so get into a slightly higher ready position just in case they do.
- Catch First, Throw Second – throwing a runner out is great, but it’s impossible if you don’t catch the ball, so make sure your catcher catches the ball first, and throws the ball second.
- Throwing Speed is in the Feet – it might seem like catchers throw with their arms, but catchers improve the speed of their throws with their feet. The faster a catcher’s feet, the faster their throw.
- Feet Explode Into Throw – since the speed of a catcher’s throw is actually in the speed of her feet, catchers will want to explode their feet into their throws.
- Pop Out, Stay Low – as a catcher begins her throw, she should focus on staying low while popping out forward instead of just standing straight up to throw. Standing straight up will almost eliminate her feet in her throw, which will greatly reduce the speed of her release and her throw.
- Catch, Split, Explode – this is a common statement among catchers and it means to first catch the ball, then split the hands (while staying shoulder high or higher) and then explode the hand and body forward into the throw.
To help your catchers with all of their catching skills, check out the following:
- The Fundamentals of Catching DVD (featuring Stacey Nuveman Deniz, 3-time Olympic Catcher)
- Controlling Pitchers Counts and Pitching and Catching Drillmania DVD
- Catching eSkills
- eDrill: Flip Dives
- Coaching Certification Level 3