The Importance of the Pitcher-Catcher Relationship

Written By: Dave Shinskie

The Silent Language: A Must Learn for Pitchers and Catchers

It's important to start early

The relationship between a pitcher and his catcher should be the foundation on which a successful baseball team is built. The communication between the two should be like clockwork. Being able to read what the other is thinking and feeding off one another's energy makes for better baseball. Building that relationship can be hard but we will go over some simple steps to make it easier to communicate from both sides.

There is a huge difference between a pitchers and catchers relationship from middle school, high school, college, to the pros. Here at Baseball Rebellion, we take pride in teaching young players how to communicate even at the youth level. We try to throw live bullpens with a catcher as much as we can. Live batters are even better to help the pitcher and catcher communication as it forces the "silent language" to occur between the pitcher and catcher even more.

I will be going over some simple signs to help pitchers relay signs to their catcher so that you never have any cross-ups. A cross-up is when your throwing partner whether in practice or a game doesn't know what the pitcher is throwing. Bad things can happen when this occurs such as injury to the receiver or a bad outcome on the pitch (wild pitch/pass ball).

If throwing just four-seam fastballs on every throw, there is no need to tell your partner what is coming. When mixing in other pitches like a two-seam or curveball it is necessary to communicate to the catcher what is coming. Here are the signs a pitcher will use from Little League to the Big Leagues to relay those pitches to the catcher.

Know Your Signs

How to communicate from pitcher to catcher

DO YOU KNOW the silent language between pitcher and catcher? I am talking about the communication between each other to what pitch is coming. The signs are simple and practical in telling the catcher what you are throwing. No need to yell out "Hey here comes a fastball".

It's amazing how many kids don't know these signs and or forget them from week to week. These are the signs form a pitcher to catcher, or their throwing partner when at practice or before a game. Here are some examples of silent signs.

Fastball Sign
Fastball Sign
Change Up SIgn
Change Up Sign
Curveball Sign
Curveball Sign
Slider Sign
Slider Sign
Knuckleball Sign
Knuckleball Sign

Importance Of Knowing The Signs

It is very important to learn and use these signs for a few reasons:
  1. No verbal commands are needed. Both pitcher and catcher on the same page.
  2. It tells the catcher what pitch to expect. No cross-ups occur when done properly.
  3. The way in which you show the sign also helps the catcher know the shape of the pitch.  Big and drastic signs mean the pitches have a bigger break.  Short quick moves let the catcher know the pitches are sharper and will have a later break.
  4. It's important to throw all pitches in warm-ups in the bullpen and on the field in between innings.

Establish The Catcher To Pitcher Signs

No Runners on base

Before the game starts, the pitcher and catcher should go over signs. When there is no one on base the signs be easy for both the catcher and pitcher. The usual signs that most team use are simple and to the point when there are no runners on base.

1 Finger for Four-Seam FB
1 Finger for Four-Seam FB
2 Fingers for Curveball
2 Fingers for Curveball
3 Fingers for Slider or Two-Seam FB
3 Fingers for Slider or Two-Seam FB
4 Fingers for Change-Up
4 Fingers for Change-Up
Runners on Base/Runner on second

The main reason to have a separate set of signs when runners are on base especially second base is so the runner can not relay what pitch is coming to the hitter.  Some examples of what pitchers and catchers use are; second sign, chase the two or any number, and outs plus one. Here is a great video of Gabe Dimock going through the proper way to give signs and why it is important to have a separate set of signs when there are runners on base.

How to implement a separate set of signs or even multiple sets:
  1. Communication:  Before the game starts, talk with your catcher on what signs you possibly will go to at any point in the game.
  2. Comfortability:  The catcher and the pitcher need to be able to have a smooth transition into their separate sets of signs.  If there is a lot of thought process on what pitch is trying to be called, then the signs need to be simplified.
  3. Practice:  During bullpen sessions or flat ground work, have your partner run through some sign sequences to help your process become smooth and seamless.
  4. Pitch calling:  Pitchers need to be on the same page with their catchers.  Catchers need to know what the pitcher likes to throw in every situation.  This will eliminate shaking off pitches and will avoid the confusion of going back through the signs.
  5. Having an audible:  In football, the plays are called off anticipating what the opposing team is trying to do.  The quarterback can audible if he sees something that would work better.  Same for baseball when using different signs.  If you have to shake or want a different pitch, be able to go right back through the signs without any hesitation.  A good example of this would be you are using second sign, shake to the first sign.  Meaning the second sign in the sequence is the pitch that is called, the shake indicates you want a different pitch.  Now, the catcher immediately goes back through a sequence and the first sign is the pitch that is being called.
Never Show Each Other Up

The last thing you want to do as a pitcher or catcher is to show the other one up. What that means is when the other makes a mistake, you visibly show your frustration towards them for everyone to see. This is not only a quick way to ruin the pitcher/catcher relationship you've already built, but a quick way to lose a friendship as well.

We are all human and we are all going to make mistakes throughout our playing career and our lives. If you work hard to build an unbreakable relationship and foundation with your pitcher or catcher, great things can happen.

2 thoughts on "The Importance of the Pitcher-Catcher Relationship"

  1. Clark Six says:

    That was so helpful and fun usually it is boring and when you put the videos

    1. Admin says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting on the article. If you have any ideas or topics you would like us to dive into, please let us know. We are always looking for new things to write about. Thanks again.

      Dave Shinskie

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