Precision Over Force
Precision Over Force
Precision: (n) the quality, condition, or fact of being exact and accurate.
Force: (n) strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement.
Most people think of catchers as being tough, hard nosed, gritty, and strong. While this may be the case, these should not be the only adjectives that describe a catcher. Not only do catchers need to possess these attributes in order to perform the grueling duties of the position, catchers must also possess some of the same qualities of a skilled surgeon. Lets take a look at some of the skills catchers have to perform during every game and then take a look at how the words precision and force can be applied to each skill, focusing on which word best suits each skill and why.
Probably the most obvious skill that does not demand a great amount of force, receiving. I have seen too many catchers with what we call “hard hands”. Meaning, they are too forceful with the hand rather than allowing the hand to be soft and absorb the ball at impact. Guys with hard hands are being too forceful. Being precise with receiving is extremely important especially as catchers move up to higher levels. As pitchers start to throw much faster and nastier pitches. The pocket of a catcher’s mitt is fairly small, so without precision, catchers will struggle to handle higher level pitchers. Precision wins over force with regard to receiving a baseball.
Possibly the least obvious skill that demands precision, blocking pitches in the dirt. It seems counterintuitive to be precise rather than forceful when there is an object throwing itself into your body. Many people think that being forceful on a block is the best way to block the ball successfully as well as protect yourself form injury. This is not necessarily the case. Being precise is important with blocking because no matter how forceful you are, if you are slightly off with your positioning there is a great chance for the ball to kick off and allow runners to advance. The goal with blocking is keeping runners from advancing. In order to do this catchers need to be able to keep the ball close enough to grab it after a block to stop the advancement of the runners. If catchers are too forceful they risk knocking the ball further away. It takes precision, not so much force, to block a baseball and to do it effectively.
Throwing to bases:
Again, precision is important to perform this skill properly. We are talking about throwing a baseball, on a high school and above sized field, 127.3 feet to a window that is about a 2’x2’ box sitting just above the ground. This is no easy task for a person to undertake. How many average people do you think could walk off the street, set up behind the plate, and fire a strike to that spot? Very few. And then to add the effectiveness of speed? We run into an even bigger issue. Could that person hit that target in 2 seconds or less? Absolutely not. They can force all they want but they will never be able to do it. It takes practice to do it. It takes a lot of moving parts working together to accomplish a good throw. So precision plays a huge role. Yes, you need to be extremely explosive, but explosive and forceful are two different things. Precision on the other hand described the skills like making a clean, fast exchange, getting the first step down in a fraction of a second and in the right direction, having the upper body pointed in the direction of the target, being directional with the lead foot, and being consistent with release point. Any small mistake at the plate turns into a huge mistake 127.3 feet away.
Working with pitchers:
Here is a skill that many overlook, working with a pitching staff. You may wonder how skill and precision matter in this arena. When working with people, force is typically not a good approach. Especially competitive baseball players. Yes, there are a few guys who need a forceful voice or forceful encouragement but not everyone. When working with people it is important to be precise with your word choice and with your movements behind the plate. Using the wrong words could have a negative affect on the pitcher. Think for instance about the coach who yells at his pitcher to “throw strikes!” What do you think the pitcher’s response is in his head? Positive or negative? Probably negative. I imagine the pitcher probable just said in his head “no $#&^” in response. Or the catcher who tells a pitcher not to walk someone or don’t throw it in the dirt. These are no good. It is important to use proper directives in the way you communicate. Saying things like, “throw the ball through me” or “work this hitter away” or “trust your stuff” are all better directives. There is no negative used in those statements. And remember, you cannot force a pitcher to do anything but you can encourage them to do what you want by being precise in the words you choose.