One of the most important positions on the field is the catcher. As it says in the name, the catcher catches the ball, but also, the catcher fields bunts, goes after foul tips and takes throws from others on the field. The softball catcher characteristics include a good level of confidence, knowledge of the game and readiness to make decisions. This is important because she will need to be the one to direct the defense for many of the plays. She has the whole field in view so is in the best position to direct the team on the field.
Softball Catcher Characteristics
The catcher will also benefit from many physical characteristics such as strength, agility, coordination and a good reaction time. It is a good idea for her to train as much as the pitchers train, because stamina is also required due to the number of throws that she will make in a game. She needs to have strong legs because she will be crouched down on them for much of the game. The ready position needs to allow for the ability to quickly get up from her position if required and to move quickly to block a ball or to get a passed ball. The regularity of some of these tasks of course can also depend on the abilities of the pitcher.
The catcher also needs to be a fielder in a sense, because throws from the outfield will often come as a short hop in front of the plate. Not only does she need to be able to “field” throws, she also needs to be able to field and throw a bunt if it lands within her fielding zone. Fly balls near home plate are also part of the fielding duties of the catcher which like the rest of the team, require communication skills.
Although mechanics and strength are the most important qualities for throwing effectiveness and making plays at the plate, some still believe that size is one of the main criteria that should be considered when selecting a catcher at the competitive levels. The truth is that a small catcher who knows the game, makes good decisions and has the physical qualities that are needed to be the most effective, is just as and sometimes more valuable than a bigger player. When it comes down to it, a big catcher is not going to make up for the abilities of a good solid catcher. She may be able to get the balls that are thrown high and be a better target for an outfielder but she still needs to be able to make the play once she gets the ball.
A strong and accurate throw is one of the most important assets for a catcher. A catcher who can throw to 2nd base without getting up from the plate is definitely something special. At the younger and less experienced ages, a catcher will often get up and actually walk towards 2nd base because she is not strong enough yet to get the ball there from the plate. This is why good throwing mechanics are critical for catchers because the better the mechanics are, the less effort is required to get the ball to the target. A right handed catcher is most common which can be beneficial because most hitters are right handed. This does not mean however that a left handed catcher is any less efficient. It is essential though that both catchers practice throwing with a left and right handed batter.
The pitcher is sort of the catcher’s responsibility aside from receiving the signals from the coaches which most of them do. A good catcher will get to know her pitcher so that she can tell if she is having difficulty or if a specific pitch is not working for her on that day. By helping her to keep a positive mind set, the pitcher will be able to get through difficult hitters much easier. Studying the hitters and talking with the coaches will help to devise a plan for teams that the team meets more than once.