Improving Baseball Pop Time
One of the hardest things for a catcher besides not letting the ball get past you, is catching speedsters who attempt to steal second base. This is because it involves the deception of the pitcher to keep the runner as close to the bag as possible since every step matters when stealing a base. Pitchers must keep the runners close on by occasionally utilizing pick-off moves to let the runner know that we see them and will make them very nervous to take any additional steps.
The pitcher must also be aware of getting the ball quickly to the plate so that the catcher has the extra second of time to launch a throw towards second. To have any respectable chance of getting any stealer out, the catcher should focus their attention to catching fundamentals and absorb any baseball coaching tips that are thrown their way.
One of the ways catchers are evaluated and measured in today’s baseball recruiting world is their “pop time”. This is the amount of time that it takes the instant it hits the catchers glove to the moment it strikes the middle infielder’s glove at second base. A time that is considered “good” by the big leagues is two seconds, while a great time would be 1.8 seconds. This extra .2 seconds is literally the difference of a blink and of winning a championship game. As the old saying goes, “Life is just a game of inches.”
The value of getting a runner out of second is significant because if the runner does get on, it leads to scoring opportunities with a single in the outfield. In this article, I want to emphasize three important tips for catchers to improve their pop times because of the value college coaches and other professionals hold on this specific skillset. As we know with many sports, defense wins championships and any sort of advantage that a team can have can be the difference maker in winning tight ball games.
Top 3 Tips for Enhancing Pop Time
- Improving Hip Flexibility/Mobility: Our hips and the surrounding muscles are the foundation for our movement. Because catchers spend a majority of their time in low squat positions to frame and catch pitchers, hips can begin to stiffen and grow weaker from the prolonged sitting. Bad hip mobility makes it difficult to remained balance in low squat positions, which puts stress upon the leg muscles, causing fatigue and reduce load in the arm. In order to reduce this issue, you should do hip adductor stretches , leg swings, and hip flexor stretches as it will create optimal hip mobility that will allow the athlete to perform at a high level throughout an entire game.
- Improving Effective Footwork: An essential to an accurate and powerful throw to second is having the proper footwork that will allow the player to be in the correct throwing position to get the out at second base. When you start, you want your right foot staggered, in order to have the hips open for the throw and the needed leg power that can work in unison with your arm. To prevent bad footwork, do not give the sign to early because this can cause muscle tightness in the middle of the pitch, and instead begin to transform into the position during the pitch, so as the ball hits your glove, you are ready to explode and pop. Another consideration for footwork is to make sure that you are planted right into the dirt when you are making the throw because if you do take a step forward towards the plate and drag your foot across it, there is a high likelihood that you may slip and lose power production and accuracy.
- Learn to have perfect hip to shoulder separation: Once the optimal footwork and hip rotation timing are mastered, it is time to have seamless hip to shoulder separation. This entails have the back hip separated from the back shoulder as far as possible, which then puts the load on the arm. As a result, this allows the arm to rear back and explode at a rapid rate towards the target. If there is too much separation, the catcher can make the adjustments to find his comfort zone and proper release point to gain that strong pop time.
More Video Pop Time Tips Below:
Pourciao, Brent. “Top 10 Tips For Catchers to Improve Pop Times.” Increase Pitching Velocity. N.p.,03 Jan 2017. Web 20 June 2017.