Conquer the Plate: 15 Dynamic Drills for Youth Softball Catchers

Last updated on August 22, 2023

As a catcher, you play a vital role in your team’s success, requiring a combination of skill, agility, and strength. In this article, we’ve curated a list of fifteen youth softball catcher drills that will elevate your game. The focus is on ten drills tailored to skill development, but we’ll also explore five strength and conditioning exercises to help you become a standout catcher. So, let’s gear up and get ready to ace these drills!

Catcher Skills Drills:

Blocking Drill

For the blocking drill, the catcher should wear full gear, including shin guards, chest protector, and mask. The coach or teammate will stand at a short distance and throw balls in the dirt, making them bounce just in front of the catcher. The catcher’s goal is to react quickly, get in front of the ball with proper body positioning, and use their gear to block the ball and keep it in front of them. They should focus on getting their body low and centered, with their glove hand positioned to prevent any potential rebounds. Repetition is key to developing muscle memory and reflexes for successful blocking during games.

Pop-up Drill

In the pop-up drill, catchers work on tracking and catching pop-ups with their mask off. The coach or teammate can use a fungo bat to hit pop-ups to different areas of the field. The catcher starts in their gear, excluding the mask, and focuses on tracking the ball as it goes up into the air. Once they locate the ball, they should discard the mask, position themselves under the ball, and use their glove to secure the catch. The drill helps catchers improve their ability to gauge the trajectory of the ball and handle pop-ups without the obstruction of the mask.

Throwing Accuracy Drill

To work on throwing accuracy, set up targets at various distances from the catcher. The targets can be buckets, cones, or any clearly marked area. The catcher should start in their catching position and receive balls from a coach or teammate. After catching the ball, they must quickly transition into their throwing stance and aim to hit the targets with accurate throws. Focus should be on using proper throwing mechanics and transferring the ball quickly from the glove to the throwing hand. As the catcher’s accuracy improves, they can increase the distance and challenge themselves. Hitting smaller targets to further enhance their throwing precision.

Framing Drill

The framing drill focuses on improving a catcher’s hand-eye coordination and framing skills. The catcher positions themselves behind home plate, and a pitcher or pitching machine delivers pitches to different locations. The catcher’s objective is to receive each pitch cleanly and subtly move their glove to present the ball in a way that encourages umpires to call borderline pitches as strikes. Emphasis should be on soft hands, minimal movement, and making the pitch look as good as possible. The catcher and the pitcher should communicate effectively to work on framing pitches consistently throughout the drill.

Quick Release Drill

The quick release drill aims to enhance a catcher’s ability to make fast and efficient throws to second base to catch stealing runners. A coach or teammate stands near second base as the runner. The catcher starts in their crouched position behind the plate. When the coach or teammate yells “go,” the runner breaks for second base, and the catcher must quickly transfer the ball from their glove to their throwing hand and make an accurate throw to second base. The focus is on minimizing the time between receiving the ball and releasing it while maintaining accuracy and a strong throw.

Catcher and umpire solo

Blocking and Recovery Drill

This drill simulates game situations where a ball gets away from the catcher after blocking it. The catcher starts in their catching stance, and a coach or teammate throws balls in the dirt in different directions. The catcher must demonstrate proper blocking technique to keep the ball in front of them. Immediately after blocking, the catcher practices quick and agile recovery by locating the ball, retrieving it, and making a swift throw to the appropriate base to prevent advancing runners. This drill helps catchers develop both blocking skills and efficient recovery techniques.

Wild Pitch/Passed Ball Drill

The wild pitch/passed ball drill focuses on a catcher’s ability to react quickly to erratic pitches or passed balls and make swift plays to prevent runners from advancing. A coach or teammate pitches to the catcher, deliberately throwing balls in various locations, forcing the catcher to react to unexpected pitches. The catcher must keep their body in front of the ball, prevent it from getting past them, and quickly retrieve it to make a throw to the appropriate base if necessary. This drill enhances a catcher’s instincts and reflexes in handling unpredictable situations during a game.

One-Knee Throwing Drill

The one-knee throwing drill is designed to develop a catcher’s arm strength, accuracy, stability, and technique. The catcher starts by kneeling on one knee, with the other leg extended in front of them for balance. From this position, a coach or teammate will roll or toss balls to the catcher, who must quickly transition from the kneeling stance to a standing position while making an accurate throw to a base. This drill forces the catcher to use their core and upper body strength to generate power from a less conventional throwing position, improving their overall arm strength and throwing mechanics.

Blocking on the Move

Blocking on the move is a drill that enhances a catcher’s agility and reaction skills. The catcher starts in their regular catching stance, and a coach or teammate throws balls in different directions. The catcher must quickly move laterally or forward, adjusting their body position to block the incoming balls effectively. This drill simulates game scenarios where catchers need to move to block pitches in the dirt or redirect pitches that change direction unexpectedly. It helps catchers become more versatile in handling various pitch locations while maintaining their balance and control during dynamic movements.

Reaction Time Drill

The reaction time drill focuses on improving a catcher’s ability to react quickly to unpredictable pitches. To perform this drill, a pitching machine or a coach throws a mix of different pitches (e.g., fastballs, curveballs, changeups) randomly and at varying speeds. The catcher must be prepared to receive any type of pitch and react swiftly to catch it in the proper location. This drill hones a catcher’s hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and overall ability to read and anticipate pitches effectively. Regular practice with this drill can significantly improve a catcher’s reaction time and catching accuracy in game situations.

Close-up of youth softball catcher in blue gear

Strength and Conditioning Drills for Youth Softball Catchers

Reaction and Throw

The reaction and throw drill aim to improve a catcher’s decision-making and quick throws. A coach or teammate can use a reaction ball, which bounces unpredictably, or randomly call out different bases. The catcher starts in their crouched position behind the plate. Upon seeing the ball’s movement or hearing the base call, they must quickly react, retrieve the ball, and make an accurate throw to the designated base. This drill helps catchers sharpen their reflexes and develop faster reaction times. Additionally, they improve their ability to make precise throws under pressure during game situations.

Long-Toss Throws

Long-toss throwing sessions are designed to strengthen a catcher’s arm, increase their throwing distance, and enhance throwing accuracy. The catcher stands in the outfield or a large open space with a partner, and they gradually increase the distance between them as they make throws back and forth. The focus is on using proper throwing mechanics. Transferring weight from the back foot to the front foot, and using the whole body to generate power for longer throws. Long-toss sessions help build arm strength, improve arm endurance, and develop the muscle memory necessary for accurate and powerful throws during games.

Explosive Starts

The explosive starts drill emphasizes improving a catcher’s quickness and ability to get into a good throwing position rapidly. The catcher starts in their crouched position behind the plate, and a coach or teammate calls out “Go!” The catcher must explode out of their crouch, sprint a short distance, and then quickly get into a throwing stance. This drill helps catchers become more efficient in their movements, allowing them to react swiftly to stolen base attempts and other quick plays during games.

Functional Core Exercises

Functional core exercises are essential for catchers to develop the necessary stability and power for throwing and blocking. Incorporate exercises such as planks, where the catcher supports their body weight on their forearms and toes, engaging the core muscles for a set amount of time. Russian twists, involving twisting the torso while holding a medicine ball or weight, challenge the oblique muscles. Leg raises, performed by lying on the back and lifting the legs, target the lower abdominal muscles. These exercises strengthen the core, helping catchers generate power in their throws and maintain balance and control while blocking and receiving pitches.

Plyometric Drills

Plyometric drills are dynamic exercises that enhance power and explosiveness in the legs and upper body. Box jumps involve jumping onto and off a sturdy box, engaging the lower body muscles. Lateral jumps, where the catcher jumps side-to-side, improve lateral movement and agility. Medicine ball slams, where the catcher forcefully throws a medicine ball to the ground, work on explosive upper body power. Plyometric exercises are excellent for developing quick and powerful movements, which are beneficial for catchers in various aspects of their gameplay, such as blocking, throwing, and making quick plays on the field.

Catcher making a throw.


At what age should youth catchers start specialized training?

It’s a good idea to start specialized catcher training around 10 to 12 years old, once you’ve built a solid foundation in basic softball skills and athleticism. That way, you can focus on learning fundamental catching techniques, proper positioning, and the basics of working with pitchers.

Can smaller catchers be successful behind the plate?

Absolutely! Your success as a catcher isn’t determined by your size. Instead, focus on developing your catching skills, agility, and communication abilities. With the right training and mindset, you can excel behind the plate, no matter your size.

What are some common challenges for catchers, and how can they overcome them?

Catchers face various challenges, including managing a pitching staff, staying focused during long games, and dealing with pressure situations. To overcome these challenges, communication is vital. Work on effectively communicating with your pitchers to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Staying engaged throughout the game and employing mental toughness techniques can help you remain composed in high-pressure moments.


Congratulations, young catchers! You now have essential drills and skills to elevate your softball catching abilities. By practicing diligently and focusing on mental toughness, you’ll become a standout catcher in your league. Embrace the challenges and enjoy the journey, knowing that hard work pays off on the softball field. With technical proficiency, agility, and mental fortitude, you’ll become a force to be reckoned with behind the plate. Step onto the field with confidence, determination, and a never-give-up attitude, knowing you have what it takes to excel. Play your heart out, push yourself to improve, and let the world see what youth catchers can achieve. Gear up and showcase your exceptional catching abilities with pride!

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