Blocking The Throat
It's been brought to my attention that young players need to tuck their chin when they block.
Ok, who am I kidding, I've known this for years, from experience.
Yes, I was hit in the throat my fair share of times as a young catcher, but, it wasn't because I forgot to tuck my chin, and many of the kids today who still get hit in the throat are not getting hit because they forgot to tuck their chin either.
You see, many coaches only diagnose the symptom. The see a kid get hit in the throat and then automatically and emphatically yell "TUCK YOUR CHIN!"
But, what many of those coaches don't understand, even though they mean well, is that tucking your chin is not just about tucking your chin.
Yes, if that sounds confusing, it is. I'll explain.
Tucking your chin, or, rather, not tucking your chin, is typically a result of a few different things.
I'm only going to focus on one thing, the spine.
When a kid goes down to block the ball, they need to have a proper spine angle, which will help their chin naturally tuck.
Go ahead and try it yourself right now as you read this article.
Where you're sitting, I want you to push your chest out as far as you possibly can, effectively extending your back.
Seriously, don't just sit there and act like you did it and keep reading, do it.
Push your chest out.
As far as you can go.
Ok, so what happened to your chin? Did it go up at all? Or did you at least notice it was hard to keep it down?
This is what many young catchers experience when they block pitches in the dirt.
They shoot their chest forward which in turn shoots the chin up.
If catchers focus on absorbing the ball with their upper body, rounding over top of the ball, and watching the ball all the way into the body, the chin will naturally tuck and round.
It doesn't really work the other way around. Telling a kid to tuck their chin who is thrusting the chest out won't fix the issue.
So next time you see a kid blocking with their chin up, instead of telling them to tuck their chin, try telling them to round over top of the ball instead and instruct them to watch the ball all the way in to their body.
I think that might do the trick for you.