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"Instructing" the catcher

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A good catcher can help his pitcher get strikes. But, more importantly, from our perspective a good catcher can help us call strikes.

So, how much do you "instruct" catchers? And, how? For example: "Scoot up...stick it...don't pull it...try not to point the glove down when catching the low pitch, if you can", or more elaborate instructions. I've worked with a well respected umpire who will actually give elaborate instructions to the catcher, including holding his left hand in various positions, as he takes a look at a few pitches during the initial warmup by F1. He does this in HS varsity games.

On the other hand, some will say instructing F2 is coaching, and we should not do it. Or, if you scoot up F2 and there is a catcher's interference, you've got a problem.

So, what do you do?

I also realize your answer may depend on the level of play, so please specify.

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I'll sometimes tell an F2 "Stick it, don't pull it" at at the "early teens" levels if we've had some dialog during the game and I feel he might be receptive. Varsity, or anything 18u and up...nothing.

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For lower levels sometimes I'll say "When you pull it way back like that it makes my job easier," typically given after a ball. 

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Regular season, it's rare unless I get asked questions by the catcher regarding his ability to help receive strikes. Mostly my instructions concern my ability to see the whole plate, usually accompanied by an apology to them for being stuck with the midget umpire.

Fall ball under 13, a good portion of the game is spent instructing catchers. We're considered part of the teaching team, coaches will ask for help if you don't offer it and often apologize in advance for a new catchers lack of ability. I was told by a fall coach once "the more you help us by helping them, the less often you'll get hit" , so true that was.

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I will tell younger catchers to not pull the ball (framing in their minds). I NEVER tell them where to set up.

HS usually know how to receive the ball, or their coaches do.

College - you can't tell those guys nuthin' :) , but he know their jobs.

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*F2 Name* If you pull the pitch, you didn't think it was a strike so why should I?  Stick it and hold it for a second.

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I'll never tell a catcher to scoot up.  If I ever did, I'm sure there'd be a CI coming soon after and then it's going to be perceived as all on me.

Otherwise, for the ones that like to frame EVERYTHING.  "The more you move your glove after the catch, the less it's going to be a strike."

For 12s and below, I'll be trying to get them to stick pitches and dig the low ones if possible.  I make it a point to be talking with both teams catchers when I do this so there's no perception of bias.  13s and 14s I'll talk to some depending on the level.  Two weeks ago I had a 13AAA catcher that was letting his glove recoil back beside his helmet on pitches in the upper right quadrant of the zone.  I "ball" one of them and say, "stick those out if front of you and there's a lot better chance of that being a strike".  Sure enough, next pitch is roughly the same and he sticks it out in front, "Strike!"

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I usually wait and let the coaches do their jobs.  Most halfway decent coach will tell their F2 all the things I would tell them (stay down longer, stick the pitch, etc.).  If however I see F1 or F2 getting frustrated and the coach not doing their jobs then I will offer "Stay down longer and I can see the zone better" or "If you move your glove that much you didn't think it was a strike either".

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I don't do much JV high school ball, but was doing a game this spring and the catcher was trying to frame pitches that were way out of the zone.  I said to him calmly, "Just a tip, I do a lot of college ball and you never see catchers do that."  He didn't say much but kind of quit doing it - at the younger levels they just don't know any better.  

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At my level, I dont even coach, talk, or do anything else.. not my job... I will only tell them " don't pull it".. i will answer questions to where i had a pitch " "outside, inside, high or low"

 

 

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I'm with Haid and I'm just a HS and D3 umpire. I don't even tell them about pulling pitches. I just ignore the pulling and call every strike I can get.

But I'm in a place where the pitching and catching isn't that great, too.

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I'll sometimes make observations to youth catchers on pitches or situations. For HS Varsity, or the college catchers and higher level men's league catchers I work with I try and give them my perspective on certain pitches so they can understand what works for their pitcher.

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I find that I have to pull catchers back more than tell them to scoot up.  They get very close to the batter and then when they put their glove up, it is a total eclipse of the plate.  

I do make a point of telling the coach what I told their F2 and why it is better for them to move back a bit.

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8 minutes ago, conbo61 said:

They get very close to the batter and then when they put their glove up, it is a total eclipse of the plate.  

If they are close to the plate it would seem that tracking the ball would be no more difficult than if they were not. Experiences have shown me that it is usually easier, especially if I am working with a fairly decent catcher, as there is no misconception from any of the participants about where the ball actually went through the zone due to the F2 butchering how the pitch is received.

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