Calling pitches is significantly more than just putting fingers down in between your legs to confirm that you and your pitcher are on the same page so you don't get crossed up. Those fingers have meaning, and you should have some reasoning as to why you're calling certain pitches. In this quick guide, we will highlight the different aspects that go into calling a game, including preparation, understanding your pitcher's strengths and weaknesses, and assessing the situation.
Who are we playing? It's important to understand the identity of our opponents as a team. Do they hit for power? Do they get on base frequently? Do they strike out often? By studying our opponents' statistics, we can gain valuable insights into their tendencies and adjust our pitch calling accordingly.
Each lineup we face is composed of different individuals with varying strengths and weaknesses. As a catcher, it is your job to learn these strengths and exploit the weaknesses. Utilize statistics as a tool to understand the opposing hitters. If no statistics are available, consult with teammates and coaches who may have valuable insights.
Enter the game with a plan of attack. How do you and your pitcher plan to get outs? It's important to have a game plan in place, but also be open to adjusting and changing strategies if the initial plan isn't effective. Flexibility and adaptation are key.
Constantly communicate with your pitcher. Talk before the game, during the game, and after the game. A pitcher and catcher who are on the same page can be a powerful combination. Understand your pitcher's strengths, both in terms of specific pitches and intangible attributes, and rely on them in crucial game situations.
Equally important is knowing your pitcher's weaknesses. Understand what to avoid relying on in certain situations. Learn your pitcher's mistakes and corrections. Some pitchers respond to mechanical cues when they are struggling, while others may need more encouragement to regain focus. Find out what motivates and helps your pitcher perform at their best.
Consider the current situation at hand. What's the count? What outcome do we need? If a double play ball is necessary, calling a pitch that can be elevated might not be the best choice. Opt for a pitch that is more likely to induce a ground ball.
In critical, game-saving situations, lean on your pitcher's strengths. Avoid relying on their worst pitch to either win or lose the game. Reflect on what has been effective against the current hitter. What pitches have led to outs? What approaches have resulted in hits? Consider location and adjust accordingly.
The more preparation and analysis you do on the front end, the less you'll need to rely on in-the-moment decision-making during the game. Finally, it's crucial to have logical reasoning behind your pitch calls. If the opposing team hasn't hit a fastball hard yet, use it as your out pitch. This doesn't mean throwing fastballs every pitch, but rather using them strategically when the count allows. Remember, as a catcher, you are working with your pitcher to maximize their potential and get the most out of their abilities.
At VeloU, we understand the importance of effective pitch calling and its impact on overall game performance.