I know in high school it seems like everyone you talk to throws 87-90, but in reality they’re lucky if they throw 82. When you make the jump to college and everyone is throwing 87-90 you realize wow this is a little different trying to catch, but still not difficult if you have decent hand eye coordination and motor skills. But once you catch a guy throwing 94+ with arm side run and sink you realize you need to be on a whole other level to catch them effectively. What’s the secret? How do big leaguers catch Aroldis Chapman throwing over 100 and make it look like they’re having a picnic behind the plate? The secret is anticipation.
One of my biggest pet peeves is watching skittish catchers. Everyone knows what I’m talking about. The guys that flinch just before every pitch comes in. It’s like they don’t know what pitch is coming. It looks like they’re getting crossed up every pitch. But why? Are you not calling the pitches? You should know your pitcher and how all his pitches move so what’s the problem?
By anticipating the pitch you can react before the pitcher even releases the baseball. For example, if your pitcher has a wipe out slider and its an 0-2 count he is probably going to bounce it. Don’t be surprised. Be in a good position to block the baseball. If you call for a two seam fastball beat the pitch to the spot and work it back over the plate, don’t let the force of impact carry your glove off the plate. Little things like this make you look better behind the plate which in turn gets you more confidence from the pitching staff, your coach, and the umpire thus getting you more strike calls.