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This is the second of a two-part series on conditioning catchers. Part I outlined specific exercises to help ensure that catchers warm-up properly for safe, effective performance. Part II will outline specific exercises and procedures to help ensure that catchers are able to recover between games, maintain personal health,

reduce the risk of injury and play at a high level throughout the season.

As stated in Part I, catchers have the greatest workload of all the players on the team. Not only do they call and receive every pitch, but they do it on average more than 130-150 times per game and 140-150 games per season while wearing equipment that can add up to five extra pounds of weight. Given their workload, extra equipment, risk of injury from errant balls, foul tips, flying bats and collisions with the surroundings and other players catchers must rank among the most highly conditioned players on the field. In this article, we will look at some of the position-specific, dynamic, strength training exercises used to help keep White Sox catchers in-the game.

Multi-planner Movement Patterns

  1. Front Spoke
  • Set Up: Place five cones or front spokes in a semi-circle in front of the catcher at a distance that can be reached in one step. The distance from the catcher to the cones will be shorter for younger players
    and slightly longer for adult players. Regardless of the distance, players should be able to reach each cone in one step without taking a false step.

 

 

 

 

  • Action: The movement in this drill consists of three

    Cones are numbered 1-5 moving from reader’s left to right (or as the athlete #1 is on their right side).

    steps with the left foot and three steps with the right foot. The drill starts with the catcher in a ready or jockey position with his left foot forward and
    right foot back and his hands in a blocking position. The first series of movements is with the left foot and starts with the athlete stepping forward and slightly outside cone #3 directly in front of him with the left foot, pausing as if he is blocking a ball in the dirt and then returning to the starting position. He then repeats the drill by stepping forward and slightly outside cone #4 with his left foot. Movement with the left foot ends with the player stepping laterally to cone #5 with his left foot, pausing and returning to the starting position.

Cones are numbered 1-5 moving from reader’s left to right (or as the athlete #1 is on their right side).

Movement with the right foot starts from the same ready position with the player stepping forward and outside cone #3 with his right foot, pausing to block a ball and then returning to the starting position. He
then repeats the drill stepping to cone #2 with his right foot and ends by stepping to cone #1 with his right foot. Taking 3 steps with the left and right foot is one set. Perform 5-8 sets. Rest between sets is based on the overall condition of the athlete.

 

 

 

Movement Patterns with Resistance

Throw to Bases

  • Set Up: These exercises are done against the resistance of bungee cords and a core harness. It’s important that the harness has movement capabilities and that the safety recommendations provided with the cord be followed. The drill starts with the catcher in a ready or jockey position with his left foot forward and right foot back and his hands in a receiving position. Proper foot work is essential in this drill.
  • Action: The movement starts with 3 throws to second base followed by 3 throws to first base using a drop step with the right foot and cross-over step with the left foot to clear a left handed batter. It ends with 3 throws to third base with a lateral step with the left foot and a step behind with the right foot to clear a right handed batter. One set is 9 throws, 3 to each base. Perform 3-4 sets. Rest between sets is based on the overall condition of the athlete. This drill combines the foot taps used in the warm-up exercises and the front spokes movement patterns used in the previous drill. Upon competition of the drill, players repeat the drill without resistance to give them a feel for what they are working on. They are amazed that they got quick in the short amount of time we do the exercises.

Cross-over Step with Backhand and Forehand

  • Set Up: The drill starts with the catcher in a ready or jockey position with his left foot forward and right foot back and his hands in a receiving position. Proper foot work is essential in this drill.

    Cones are numbered 1-5 moving from reader’s left to right (or as the athlete #1 is on their right side).

  • Movement: The drill has two parts. The first part consists of 3 backhand blocking movements to the right using a crossover step with the left foot. The second part consists of 3 forward spoke movements to the left. The drill starts with the player using a cross-over step with his left foot toward cone #2. As he makes his cross-over step, the players reaches out across his body and puts his glove hand behind cone #2 to simulate blocking a ball. The movement ends with the player quickly returning to the starting position. The drill ends with the player repeating the movements while using a cross-over step with his left foot and simulating blocking a ball behind cone #1. Upon completion of the backhand portion of this drill, the player will repeat the front spoke drill by performing 3 movements to his left. Taking 2 cross-over steps to the right with the left foot and 3 forward spoke movements to the right is one set. Perform 3-4 sets. Rest between sets is based on the overall condition of the athlete.

Back Spoke

  • Set Up: This exercise is designed to help catchers develop the proper foot work needed to field pop-ups. Five cones are placed in a semi-circle behind the athlete with cones #1 and #2 to his right side, cone #3 directly behind him and cones #4 and #5 to his left or glove side. The drill starts with the catcher in a ready or jockey position with his left foot forward and right foot back and his hands in a receiving position. Proper foot work is essential in this drill.
  • Movement: All movements involve the catcher stepping back rather than forward. The catcher will make two movements to his left (glove hand) and two movements to his right. This is one set. Do 5-8 sets. Rest between sets is based on the overall condition of the athlete. From the ready or jockey position, the player takes a drop step with his left foot and moves to cone #4 to field a pop up over his left shoulder while looking upward to find the ball. After returning to the starting position, the player pivots on his right foot, turns 900 and takes a drop step straight back with his left food to cone #3 to field a popup directly behind him. When moving to the right, the player takes a drop step with his right foot to cone #2 followed by a pivot on the left foot and drop step with the right foot to cone #3.                               __

Alan Thomas, RSCC, is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago White Sox.

 

 

 

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