In the game of baseball, every player must learn how to catch a ball. Catching is one of the most basic fundamentals in baseball, but it can be a frustrating experience if you’re unsure how to properly catch a baseball. What are the fundamentals of catching a baseball?
The seven fundamentals for catching a baseball include choosing the right glove size, getting into the ready position, making your glove a target, keeping your eye on the ball, moving with the ball, catching the ball with two hands, and finding a four-seam grip.
Playing a game of catch is a great way to warm up before a game and a great way to kill some time with your teammate. But in order to play catch with your teammates, you need to know the fundamentals of catching a baseball. Let’s jump into how to catch a baseball like an All-Star.
This article is one part of a guide on baseball fundamentals. Read my complete guide on breaking down every baseball fundamental for every position.
1) Correct Glove Size
The fit and feel of a glove are paramount, whether you are an All-Star player or just about to face your first few throws. Your glove becomes an extension of your hand and it needs to feel like that too. Factors to consider when choosing a glove include your age, hand size, and the type of position you’ll be playing.
It’s also common for players to have multiple gloves if they play multiple positions on the field. Remember, the ideal glove will assist with the player’s role work on the field. Whatever glove or gloves you choose, make sure you’re comfortable using it.
Baseball Gloves Based On Size
Determining what size glove is suitable for the player is the first step in choosing the right baseball glove based on age and hand size. Parents are often mistaken in selecting a larger mitt for their child as they believe it will “catch” better, but a glove that fits well and is easily controlled will give the child more confidence and yield better results.
Youth mitts are generally used until age thirteen, after which you should look at an adult glove in a smaller size to suit your hand.
Check with leading glove manufacturers to determine what gloves they recommend from their range for each age and field position. Here is a link to a great table with all the sizes and age recommendations.
The average baseball glove sizes per age are:
- Youth aged 5 to 12 years – 10 to 11 inches
- Adult aged 13 years and up – 11 to 13 inches
These are just recommendations based on a player’s age. A player will also need to consider their position before they choose the right glove.
Baseball Gloves Based On Position
Below is an indication of what to look for based on position:
- Infield Gloves: Infielders use a smaller glove with a shallow pocket to transfer a quicker ball from the glove to your throwing hand.
- Outfield Gloves: Outfielders typically prefer a larger glove with a deep pocket. The extra length offers a more extended reach to snag fly balls, while the deeper pocket keeps the ball safe after the catch.
- First Base Gloves: First Baseman spend a lot of their time catching throws or fielding ground balls. Their mitt-style has a deeper pocket for secure catching and scooping up ground balls, and the extended length of the mitt makes plucking throws out the air easier.
- Pitcher’s Gloves: A pitcher will use a glove similar to the size of an infielder but often prefer a closed web pattern to hide the chosen pitch grip to keep the batter guessing.
- Catcher’s Mitts: Correct size is essential for a catcher’s glove, and you should choose which size feels best for your hand. A catcher needs to catch fast and hard balls and transfer to a throw quickly.
2) Get Into The Ready Position
The positioning of your body before you even attempt to catch a ball is essential. We need to prepare our bodies to be able to move explosively in any direction, depending on the ball’s path. The ready position, also known as the athletic position, is the universal stance sportsmen and women adopt as a way to quickly react and move in any direction that’s needed.
Here’s how to stand in the ready position:
- Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Push your hips back (stick your butt out) to lower your center of gravity.
- Bend your knees slightly, and make sure your knees stay behind your toes. Your shins should be close to vertical.
- Lean forward until your shoulders are over your toes with your chest up.
- Keep your head up with your eyes looking straight ahead and your chin parallel to the ground.
- Keep your weight more forward on the balls of your feet instead of digging in your heels. This helps you take off quicker.
- Keep your arms at chest height, and make your glove a target.
3) Make Your Glove A Target
Whether you’re in the middle of a play or you’re playing catch to warm up, put your glove up to give your teammate a target to aim at. As someone who is throwing the ball, it’s much easier to make accurate throws if you’re aiming for a target instead of simply throwing to a teammate.
To make a target with your glove, you need to lift your glove chest-high and position your throwing hand just behind or just off to the side of the glove. Keeping your glove visible to teammates also means you know roughly where your teammate will be aiming while they’re throwing the ball.
4) Keep Your Eye On The Ball
Keeping your eye on the ball may sound simple, but it’s an important concept to remember. Players who don’t watch the ball into their glove are more prone to missing the ball with their glove and getting injured.
Remember, you can only catch something you can see. A baseball is a relatively small ball that is easy to miss if you are not paying attention. Always watch what’s going on and keep your eye keenly trained on the ball to make sure you are ready to move to the correct position to make a catch.
5) Move With The Ball
As you watch the ball soar closer to you, it is a good habit to step into the ball as you catch it. This step helps get your timing right as you judge the distance between you and the ball and can save precious seconds if you need to throw a runner out.
Baseball players need to be agile and flexible, which means they need to move with the game. This could mean players need to run backward or forward to catch a ball or they may need to move right or left.
Players may also need to adjust their glove so they are catching balls below their knees with their palms facing up and anything above the knees will have their palms facing down.
The best-case scenario is that the ball comes directly to you and no movement is needed, but players need to be ready to move if the ball is not thrown directly to them.
6) Catch the Ball With Two Hands
The most rewarding step is catching the ball in your glove. The sweet spot to catch the ball is in the pocket of the glove. Different ways are being taught as to how beginners should hold their hands to make the catch, but one thing that is always true is that players should use two hands when catching the ball.
Using two hands means having your throwing hand nearby your glove. When the ball enters the glove, the throwing hand moves over the glove to conceal the ball. When the ball is secure, the glove can open a bit so the throwing hand can reach inside and grab the baseball.
7) Find a Four-Seam Grip
After the catch has been made, players need to prepare to throw the ball. The way players prepare to throw the ball is by reaching into the glove and grabbing the baseball with a four-seam grip.
The four-seam grip allows players to throw the ball further and more accurately than any other grip so players need to quickly find the four-seam grip and be ready to throw.
Experienced players can find the four-seam grip without looking at the baseball. It may take some time to get used to, but the most efficient way to end the catch is by reaching into the pocket of the glove and finding the four-seam grip without looking at the ball.
If you’re looking to practice your throwing, make sure you know the 3 fundamentals of throwing a baseball.
The art of catching a baseball is a fundamental skill that has been around for ages. The more you throw and catch, the more it feels right, and the better you become. Always keep the fundamentals in mind. Remember, even the pros come back to the fundamentals from time to time.