Coaches Corner: Developing the high school catcher, Part III

By: Brian Hucks-February 4, 2007


We work throwing drills everyday, but only throw to bases maybe once a week. You do not need to kill your catcher’s arms to work on throwing. They will be good throwers if they are mechanically sound.


1. Getting rid of the ball quickly and being accurate gives you the opportunity to throw out runners.

2. Our catchers always throw together during our pre-practice throwing program. They will work “catcher specific” drills during this time, just as our infielders, outfielders and pitchers do.

3. Work the high exchange and transfer of the ball from glove to hand every time you receive a ball.

4. Measure off 60’, 90’, 127’ 3 3/8” and 150’, and mark them where your catchers throw. I put a small black line in the outfield where our catchers perform their throwing drills. They will throw these distances everyday. It is important to train your catchers to throw these distances so they will feel comfortable making all the throws during games.


Pre-practice throwing program

1. One knee (30’)–Throwing knee on the ground working high exchanges with partner.

2. 10 toes (45’)–Standing facing partner, continue working high exchange with partner.

3. Standing jab step (60’)–Incorporate jab step (explained later)-receiver will work high exchange.

4. Jab step from squat (90’)–Work from secondary stance, receiver will work framing drills.

5. Jab step from squat (127’)–Same, receiver will work tags at the plate.

6. Jab step form squat (150’)–Same, receiver will work tags at the plate

Footwork to Second Base

  • There are three basic methods that most use. They are the replace, pivot and jab step.
  • All three need to be taught because they all will be used depending upon the location of the pitch.
  • These also need to be done everyday. You cannot make accurate and consistent throws if you have bad feet.

1. Replace–The method most catchers use. However, I hope to convince you there is a better way!

  • In the replace method you basically take your right foot and place it where your left foot is.
  • The problem with this method is you do not gain any ground toward second base and your momentum is going toward third base.
  • This method should only be used when the pitch is off the plate on your glove side.

2. Pivot–You must have an extremely strong arm to use this method.

  • In the pivot method you are going to just pivot on your right foot.
  • 95% of high school catchers do not have the arm strength to do this.
  • This method should only be used when the pitch is off the plate on your arm side

3. Jab–The best method to use. It will take some time to convince your catchers they should do use this method.

  • Most catchers naturally want to step with their left foot as they catch the ball. Whenever they do this it will take three steps to get rid of the ball and that takes too much time!
  • In the jab step you take a six-inch step with your right foot as you are receiving the ball. I tell my catchers it is like a mini crow hop.
  • This allows you to gain ground toward second base and their momentum is also going toward second base.
  • They will be able to make stronger throws and they will be more accurate.
  • The step must only be six inches. If the step is longer, you will take too long to get rid of the ball.
  • You also must emphasize the high exchange because this will allow the shoulders to get lined up toward the target. When I first teach this, most of my catchers leave their chest facing the target and their throws will be short and tail to the right side of the base. They must get their shoulders in alignment and pull violently with their front elbow into their left side to generate arm speed and utilize the entire body rather than just using their arm.


Footwork to 3rd Base

  • I teach my catchers to go behind all right-handed hitters. A lot of coaches teach to go in front of right-handed hitter when the pitch is away, but I personally never felt comfortable doing this. I always felt like the hitter was in the way. You also have to take a 45-degree step toward first base to clear a throwing lane and that is very tough.
  • You want to take a reverse step with your right foot while keeping your shoulders in line with third base.
  • The mistake most make is they do not step toward third base with their lead foot because their momentum going toward the third base dugout. This causes them to change their arm angle to a ¾ arm slot and the ball will sail on them.
  • Quickness is even more important at third because the distance of the throw is not a problem.



1. The pre-practice throwing program is very important. If done correctly, these will work to make a major improvement in their throwing. Again, they need to be coached during this time. I am usually with the catchers while they are throwing. All our position coaches are with their position players during this time. It is also important to have the distances marked off during this time so they are making throws at the correct distance.

2. Line drill–Have your catchers straddle the foul line. They need to get into their secondary stance and, on coaches command, they will work the jab step and make a full arm motion like they are throwing to second base. The foul line gives feedback to the catchers. Their feet should be on the line. 

3. Net drill–Have catchers line up ten feet in front of a net. Have a coach or partner flip a ball to them underhanded from about 4–5 feet away and the catchers will work their jab step and throw to the net. This allows them to work on their throwing without putting a lot of stress on their arms.


1. Make working with your catchers a priority in every practice. There will be times that they will have to work on their own, but try not to make it a habit. Even the most committed players will slack off when they are not being supervised. 

2. Don’t be afraid to move a player. Like I said before, I have moved my shortstop, and this year probably will move my third baseman. You cannot win championships without a solid catcher.

3. Make your catchers accountable in practice for passed balls and wild pitches. They must learn to take pride in keeping the ball away from the backstop.

4. Work receiving and throwing drills everyday.

About the author: Brian Hucks is entering his eighth season as the head baseball coach at Brookland-Cayce. He is a 1991 graduate of Lexington High School. Hucks attended the University of South Carolina after stops at Anderson Junior College and Campbell University. He was a three-year letterman in baseball at USC as well as a tri-captain his senior year. Hucks graduated from USC in 1996 with a B.S. degree in physical education. He was drafted in the 31st round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Cincinnati Reds where he played in the minor league system through 1997. He has one State Championship (2000) under his belt and is well-respected in his profession.

To view Part I, click here.

To view Part II, click here.

For more on Brian Hucks, click here.