There are few things more important to the team than the quality relationship between a pitcher and catcher.
The ability to read each other’s moods, and movements, understand each other’s quirks and style, these things can only happen with a large amount of mutual respect and an even larger amount of practice. But how exactly does a Catcher go about building this relationship? Great question, I am so glad you asked.
The number one, be all, end all, of the pitcher and catcher relationship is practice. The bonding of two people on an friendly level happens over time, regardless of the quality of the players. The bonding of two people in a more emotional and deeper way is made up over mutual respect, admiration, and similar goals. A catcher and pitcher that practice together, know how driven each other really is, and can push each other harder and further, will develop a deeper relationship that allows them to almost think as one. This camaraderie and mutual respect will forge the focal point of the team, and will make the difference between an average team and a great one.
Seeing the signs of a slump
Pitcher’s are the focal point of the game, and as such have a huge amount of stress on their shoulders. Any great catcher knows when their pitcher is starting to slump, whether it’s in the seventh inning and you are trailing by six runs or if it’s simply been a rough week and their head isn’t in the game. Knowing how to snap them out of it with a quick comment, joke or by switching up the plays, is something that a catcher can do, even if the emotional level of the pitcher is outside their ability to deal with. If the pitcher and catcher aren’t perfectly synchronized to execute the game plan, then it all falls apart. Helping the pitcher remain focused is the job of the catcher.
Now while we all know by seeing the amount of cash flowing to quality pitchers, that they are the main focus of the game, it has been said that having a quality pitcher and a poor catcher is like having an amazing race horse and no jockey. Making sure you are at your peak all the time is also a huge part of the pitcher catcher combo. If the pitcher can’t rely on the catcher, then what’s the point? This takes us back to point number one, practice, practice, practice.
Reading Game situations
The ability for the catcher to be able to read and call the game for the pitcher is even more important than the catcher’s ability to hit. If the pitcher doesn’t feel sure in your ability to call and read what’s going on around him, he can’t focus on his pitching. Even if you are the best batter of all the catchers in the world, it still won’t make up for a pitcher who is uneasy in the overall sum of the game.
A simple thought, but a big one. If you can’t be professional, show up on time, respect your fellow team mates and do your job to the best of your ability, there will be no respect returned to you. Even the best players need the respect of their teammates to make the dynamic work. That being said, catchers and pitchers don’t have to be best friends to work well together, as long as they are both professional and work with purpose towards the same goal.
Knowing how to motivate your pitcher
This is the last point I want to make, because each of these items is so big, they really could have their own article for them. But motivating your pitcher and learning what works and doesn’t work to push him and get the best play out of him every time is nearly an art form, and only the very best catchers know how to do this. How do you learn? By knowing your pitcher. How do you get to know your pitcher well enough? You guessed it, by practicing together. Like breaking in a new glove, the only way to get the best possible performance is by practice, practice, practice.