Blocking Tips


I have gotten many requests to write a piece on blocking. So here is a little professional information on the topic. Rather than getting into too much detail here, I am going to touch on just a few things. You will be able to find greater detail and instruction in my upcoming catching book that will focus more on the instructional and technique sides of the catching position. The first thing I want to discuss regarding blocking is the word "attitude".

From the online Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Attitude-noun

1. the way you think and feel about somone or something

2. a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person's behavior.

You might be asking yourself why I just gave you the definition of attitude in an article regarding the blocking of a baseball. The answer is fairly simple. Blocking a baseball is an attitude. Yes, blocking a baseball is a physical act, but it takes more of an attitude than any physical skill or aptitude. Blocking requires a mental skill that we must train ourselves to have.

I want you to think for a second about the natural human reaction to something barreling towards them at a high speed while that person has no idea where the flying object is going to end up. What do most people do? They move out of the way to protect themselves. Well, now imagine that object is a round baseball coming at you at 75-95 mph. What do most people do? They flinch or they move out of the way of the ball. We see this with kids early on in their careers as catchers. They are not blocking the high speeds but they are still blocking a moving object that is threatening their safety. In order to be successful at blocking a pitch, a catcher must be mentally prepared to do so. They must have an attitude that says, "I am 100% determined to block any pitch that comes at me in the dirt." This attitude will affect their ability or inability to block a baseball. A catcher who lacks a "blocking attitude" will struggle with blocks while a catcher who has a blocking attitude will have much more success, even if the kid with the right attitude has less physical ability. The mental ability can make up for a few physical short comings.

That brings me to my next word: Anticipation. Or, Anticipate.

From the online Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Anticipation-noun

1. a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen

2. the act of preparing for something

Anticipate-verb

1. to think of (something that will or might happen in the future)

2. to expect or look ahead to (something) with pleasure: to look forward to (something)

Anticipation is a huge part of blocking a baseball effectively. If someone asks me the most important aspect of blocking I always make sure I tell them to anticipate the ball in the dirt. What does that look like? There are 3 situations in a game that demand for us to block the ball in the dirt. Those include any time a runner is on base, any count with 2 strikes, and any count with 3 balls. In all of these situations it is absolutely imperative that we block the ball in the dirt because of the consequences if we fail to block the ball. With 2 strikes if the batter swings at a ball in the dirt he can run to first. With 3 balls if the ball bounces for ball 4 and gets away from us that gives the batter the ability to attempt to take second base. And all base runners are looking to advance on every pitch in the dirt so we need to block with men on as well. That being said, anytime we are in one of those 3 game situations it is absolutely imperative that we remind ourselves to be ready to block the ball. We must tell ourselves on every single pitch to be ready to block in one of those situations, without fail. As soon as we let our guard down and forget to remind ourselves to block then we lose our anticipation and we are not as ready to block as we need to be in order to be at our best. So, be sure to anticipate each ball being in the dirt, which will get your body in a state of readiness, and will give you the best chance of being a successful blocker.

To wrap up this short post on blocking, remember these two important words: Attitude and Anticipate. We must have a blocking attitude and we must be in anticipation to block in order to be the most successful blockers that we can be.

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Benji Johnson Catching®