I wanted to write a quick post to detail some of the important aspects of giving signs as a catcher. Giving signs is relatively easy but small mistakes can lead to the other team stealing signs and the pitcher becoming frustrated. Signs also encourage pitchers and catchers to think through counts and situations for themselves. In this post I’ll discuss the importance of learning to give signs even at a young age and some key components to being a great signal caller.
All Catchers Should Give Signs!
At our weekly Catchers Class, two of the first things we cover are the signals stance and how to give signs. I am shocked at the number of kids under twelve years old who do not give signs in their games. When asked why, most of them respond by saying “Our pitchers only throw fastballs.” I usually respond with a “So what?” This means a couple of things for youth baseball. First, many youth pitchers are not learning to locate their fastball because the catcher just gives a target right down the middle regardless of count or situation. Secondly, catchers are not being encouraged to communicate with their pitchers or think through counts and situations by giving signs and moving to various locations. If you are a coach of young catchers, I encourage you to have them give signs to the pitcher and to guide them in understanding their role in the success of the pitching staff.
The Signals Stance
The goal of the signals stance is to communicate a clear plan to the pitcher while disallowing any opposing players or coaches from stealing the signs. There are a few simple keys to giving quality signs. Refer to the video below for a visual.
- Make sure that the knees and feet are close together with the midline of the catcher slightly turned to the left of the pitcher. This ensures that the signs will be hidden from the 1st base coach.
- Place the glove just outside the left knee in order to shield the view of the 3rd base coach.
- Keep signs high and tight to the body in order to keep the fingers hidden.
- Give clear and deliberate signs to avoid being crossed up
- Use multiple signs with runners on 2nd base to prevent the stealing of signs and stolen bases on off-speed pitches.
Moving From Signals Stance to Receiving Stance
After the pitcher has received the sign from the catcher, it is important that the catcher move to the proper position in a fashion that helps the pitcher as much as possible. This can mean different things depending on the pitcher. Some pitchers prefer to have the catcher set up early so that they can get a clear look at the mitt as they begin their delivery. Other pitchers want to reduce the risk of hitters and coaches knowing the location so they prefer to have their catchers move to the spot later. Below is a video explaining this concept and showing the two most common ways of moving into the receiving stance.
Thank you for reading!
Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Catching Instructor