How to Catch a Baseball – Wall Ball Style
Nothing is more important for youth than learning how to catch a baseball correctly.
One of the first things I tell my students is “Find a wall,” if you are serious about learning how to catch a baseball. There is no better way to learn to catch and to develop quick, soft hands than with a wall. As seen here, I was able to make 17 catches in 24 seconds – many repetitions can be achieved in just a few minutes. This drill may appear easy, but for inexperienced players, it takes much practice flipping balls in a consistent manner and catching them. However, in no time, players improve and enjoy wall flips. Wall ball is good for players of all ages and is a practice I continued, even into my major league years. It is also a great way to teach young players to catch a ball without the fear factor that exists when playing catch with a friend or with mom or dad. Using a softer ball like a tennis ball also allows players to use the garage or basement wall. When parents are around it is a good idea to stand behind players and help them retrieve missed balls as chasing missed balls are what gets tedious for kids.
How to Catch a Baseball – No Glove
As seen in this video, it is good to begin with no glove and a tennis ball. A tennis ball, being smaller and lighter, will not hurt and helps kids, who usually have small hands. Moving to a regulation size softer ball or to a regulation hardball is the next step. Once they become adept at catching with no glove they will find catching with a glove quite easy.
What is important when receiving balls off the wall, as when playing catch correctly, is to have the hands out away from the body with the catching elbow out to the side. A slight give of the hands as the ball reaches the glove is crucial to creating the necessary soft hands.
Until players consistently learn how to catch a baseball correctly with one hand with the elbow out to the side, they should not add the second hand. When adding the two-hand catch idea too soon, young players often bring their elbows in, which is not the correct catching technique. Notice with two-hand catch the throwing hand is out front and slightly under the glove and not behind it or to the side of the glove, often made mistakes by fielders. Also, notice how the glove delivers the ball to the bare hand with a quick downward movement of the wrist.
Fielding ground balls off the wall is done with hands out front and with the throwing hand now slightly above the glove. Two of my most often used statements to young players are “I would rather see you boot the ball in practice trying to be quick than make the play doing it slowly,” and “If you are not dropping balls occasionally you are probably not working fast enough.”
It is hard to notice but important to teach young players to go into the glove with just two fingers in a throwing grip position so they don’t come out with a palm ball. Getting the ball back to the throwing side hip as quickly as possible is important for a quick release.
In future videos, I will show other uses for the wall as well as adding footwork to these catching and fielding drills.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.