Playing catcher in baseball or softball is one of the most physically demanding positions in all of sports. Not only do you face the prospect of getting hit with an errant bat, you have to sacrifice your body to block balls in the dirt and protect the plate against runners attempting to score. Injuries are common for catchers, but keeping yourself in peak shape through the season and off-season can help you stay healthy.
A catcher uses her quadriceps muscles on every pitch. Strong quads help you get down into your crouch and spring up quickly to try to throw out a base runner. Performing squats at the gym is an effective way to build muscle in your quads, but for an added workout, place a box behind you. When you lower yourself, sit briefly on the box before rising again. The box should be tall enough that your legs are at a 90-degree angle when you're seated. To focus on your quad muscles, keep your feet close together during this exercise.
Jumping rope provides a total-body workout and also helps you increase your foot speed, which is crucial for catchers. Standard jumping rope is effective, but if you want to really increase your foot speed and endurance, try sprinting with the rope and jumping on one leg at a time. Having fast feet helps explode out of your crouch to make a throw or field a bunt.
Explosiveness is one of the best traits any catcher can possess, and standing jumps will significantly help you develop this attribute. Keep your feet together and jump to an object at least 24 inches in height, such as a sturdy box or even your porch. Land on top of the object with both your feet, and then jump back down and repeat the exercise in sets of 10 or 20, before resting briefly and starting over. This exercise builds your quad, calf and abdominal muscles.
Being in tip-top shape can keep you healthy for the season, but you'll need some baseball-specific skills to make the team. Practice catching and throwing as much as possible. Focus on accurate throws back to the pitcher and also to first, second and third base with as quick a release as possible. Work with a pitcher who can throw balls that bounce in the dirt; each time, you should drop down to block the ball with your body. Baseball-specific drills improve your hand-eye coordination and reflexes.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.