Saturday Morning

Joe Wanderlingh

Easy Like Saturday Morning

On a Saturday morning, everyone at the field is excited to be a part of the team’s doubleheader, even if it takes a few innings for you to wake up. The coaches, parents, and players are all ready for five hours of straight baseball.  Parents have the coolers packed and chairs out, the coaches have coffee in hand and lineup cards written out, and the kids have their eye black on, pants rolled up, and they take the field. There is nothing better than just watching the kids, no matter how old, just go out and play the game they love.
The key word there is PLAY, remember that word. Yes, everyone would like to win and one can certainly argue baseball is more fun when you win, but the reality is that the competitiveness and emotions of the outcome should not go past the field. Once you get in your car, or once you get home at the latest, the W or the L in the standings should be the least of your concern by then. Anyways, not the point of this story. 
This image can be ruined rather quickly by one or a few in attendance.  How is it ruined? “Just throw strikes!” “You have to visualize!” “Get your elbow up, we just worked on this!” I can go on and on. These statements are made by both coaches and parents, and it usually goes on all day long. The intent is always in the best interest of the kid, I get that completely. I am not arguing that in the slightest. But these kids are out there and they want to just play, so let them PLAY.
It doesn’t matter what happened in between the lines, the kids are kids and they want to have fun, so let them! The competitiveness and intensity is a key part of baseball and what makes it so great, but our kids have become more and more frightened that they are going to make mistakes, which just leads to more mistakes followed by a loss of interest in playing the game next week or wanting to play again next season. 

I challenge you as the parent or as the coach to allow and almost encourage mistakes. Mistakes give us coaches something to talk about after the game down the left field line. They give us a focus point in practice the following Tuesday. It helps each and every player LEARN and grow as a player and as a young man, whether they were a direct cause of the mistake or not. It helps them understand how and why this is a team game. These mistakes can be both physical or mental.

It does not matter if the team is eight years old or fourteen years old, let these kids have fun, enjoy their experiences, maybe even watch them figure it out for themselves and adjust right in front of your eyes without you saying a word, and then break everything down after the last out with them.  We all want to be a part of what really is a special Saturday week in and week out, so let’s all play our part and enjoy the piece that makes the day so special, our kids with smiles on their faces competing, learning, and working together as a team.

New School Catching Techniques


New School Catching Techniques

The catching position is widely regarded as the most demanding position in the sport of baseball. It requires both physical & mental focus on every single pitch to be successful. That being said, the evolution of the position has been simultaneously subtle & drastic.  We are going to discuss some of the new school catching techniques that have been taking over.

Let’s start with one obvious new school technique. The one knee down approach to catching pitches.  Let me begin by saying I am open to any new technique that can improve the quality of the catcher, as well as, benefit the team and or pitcher.  I’m an “old school” catcher who used the traditional catching stances (primary & secondary).

With the adaptation of technology and the analytics used to grade catchers, it was only a matter of time before a new approach would be introduced. While we’re calling it “new school” this technique has been modified at the big league level before. With the most well known modification being former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Pena and his “kickstand “split stance used in the 1970’s & 80’s.  Safe to say it wasn’t used by many guys due to its difficulty. 

This stance could only be used by the most agile and limber catchers.

The one knee down approach has multiple benefits.  Firstly, it’s a less physically demanding catching position. I know what you’re thinking…”this stance makes you “lazy” back there.” This opinion is only true if the catcher isn’t being taught the proper use of the stance. The knee down stance should only be used by experienced catchers with the understanding that with runners on base, the traditional secondary stance still works best. 

Secondly, if taught properly, the one knee down stance can benefit the pitcher getting more strikes called. In this stance the catcher is lower to the ground. Therefore the umpire has a better view of the inside and outside corners of the strike zone. Especially with a bigger catcher behind the plate. Also, in this stance it may be easier for the catcher to frame pitches lower in the strike zone. If the glove starts lower to ground it’s easier to work up and make pitches look like strikes when they’re not. 

So, the synopsis here is that although the Major leaguers make the one knee down stance look easy. IT IS NOT.  It takes many reps in practice to perfect this stance.  

Please comment below and let us know what you think of these new school techniques or any others you would like us to discuss!!